Whisky Auctions

We are rather fond of a small tipple of whisky and so we're really pleased to find another reason to enjoy this drink!

Towards the end of 2018, there were rumours circulating that a bottle of Scotch whisky deemed as “the holy grail” (a Macallan Valerio Adami distilled in 1926 and bottled 60 years later) was going to be auctioned.

Even though the auction drew a large crowd, the final winning bid was made via phone. The price? £848,750. A new world record, beating the previous price of £814,000 set in May 2018 in Hong Kong. Perhaps the most interesting take away from all of this is that neither of these record breaking purchases will be drunk, or even opened, any time soon.

An unprecedented boom is being fuelled by these millionaire spectators, who have the tendency to never uncork their liquid gold – they simply buy the rare whiskies and hoard them for resale.

This, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on the market – last year, the value of rare scotch whiskies rose by more than 40%, making it (by numbers at least) a better investment than gold bullion.

Such practice has drawn fierce criticism from lifelong whisky fans. A common complaint is that in their quest to find and try as many types of whisky as possible, they are coming up short against wealthy investors who are willing to pay way above the list price.

Speculators are not the only parties behind this surge. Rising demand for whisky in the Far East, notably in Japan, China and India, is also squeezing supplies and driving prices up.

The distilleries were quick to cotton on to the demand, servicing it with lavish marketing campaigns with the aim of turning their drinks into a luxury brand in the eyes of a new generation of enthusiasts, who may have previously seen whisky as something you simply drank in a bar.

Macallan, in particular, have been very prevalent in such luxury settings – they were endorsed in the James Bond film “Skyfall”, as well as being featured as the US President’s tipple of choice in the Netflix drama “House of Cards” and also being the only visible scotch behind the bar in Sky Atlantic’s “Westworld.”

Distilleries are increasingly sponsoring art shows and working with famous photographers and models, hoping this nod to the luxury lifestyle will lead to their whiskies being viewed in a similar way to how collectors view watches.

The tactic appears to be paying off, in the last year it was estimated that Macallan whisky now accounts for around £300 of every £1,000 spent on the liquor at auction in the UK, leading individual producers to up their prices of premium age stock.

Add in the increased global demand and declining stocks of discontinued bottles, and a perfect storm is created for the 'right' bottles to continue soaring in value.

As always, we would suggest that investments in liquor along with art and antiques should be driven by the individual’s personal interest in the valuable rather than the potential investment, as with all things, the values can go up or down depending on the market at that time, but with values as they are at the moment, it may be worth saving a bottle for a special occasion!

three whisky glasses being clinked together




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