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Rare whisky value declines

A new report has claimed that the value of rare whisky at auction has declined, despite the overall volume bought to market increasing by 10%.

The new analysis by finance firm Noble & Co in its annual whisky intelligence report found that the macro-climate in the past year “has definitely taken a turn for the worse”, including inflation and price rises. As a result, it was “no surprise the auction market feels the pain”.

According to Noble & Co, the auctions for luxury goods has seen “significant weakness” recently, and fine art, wine, watches and other luxury goods have “all fallen from their peaks”.


Focusing on whisky bottles over £100, the secondary market value rose by 2% in the year to September, which was a slowdown on the 6% at the end of July, with the firm reporting “a significant disconnect seen between volume and price”. Looking at Q3 alone, values transacted are down 9% on the year before, it said.

Growth in volume is mainly at the cheaper end of the market in bottles less than £1,000, at around 18%, which it postulates could be due to flippers “keen to trade and make a short-term profit”.

In addition, the previous year has seen a growth in value for Campbeltown and Speyside, with “sharp falls” in Islay, Highlands and Lowlands. The latter growth is mainly due to Springbank and The Macallan which “dominate” the secondary market.

In the £1,000 to £10,000 category, volume was up 11% but value was down 5%. It said reserve prices “play a bigger part” at the higher end, and sellers are “still reluctant to sell at any price”.

Selling less

At the highest end, the firm also reported than bottles above £100,000 were “selling less”, but those that do sell are still capturing high prices.

The report said: “There is a clear division between the high volume, low price segment of the auction market, and the high price, low volume segment where sellers are more likely to hold onto their bottles until value recovers.”

“In conclusion, the market for whisky at auction is tough — a reflection on the macroclimate. With little signs of a positive upturn in the wider world, it is unlikely the fine and rare whisky market at auction will make significant positive progress anytime soon.”

Duncan McFadzean, head of food and drink at Noble & Co, added that it had been “a difficult year” for fine and rare whisky investment.


He said: “While general interest in the category continues to drive overall volume growth in secondary whisky sales, at the top end investors are more cautious about price and value.

“While the rarest bottles are still breaking records, our analysis shows that even lower-value transactions are susceptible to price sensitivity. We expect this trend to continue into 2024 as weak global economic conditions prevail.”

Earlier this month a bottle of rare Macallan 1926 became one of the most expensive whiskies ever sold at auction, breaking the £2m barrier. Indeed, Macallan remained the most popular distillery on the secondary market, with more than 26,500 bottles sold in the previous year.

Last month, an empty box for the Macallan 1926 was valued at £138,000 alone, despite being purchased on eBay for £200.


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