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Over £25m of rare whisky sold at auction


A record £25 million of rare whisky was sold at auction in the UK last year as older liquid continues to command higher prices.

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Old and Rare: The UK’s whisky auction market is the largest in the world

During 2017 the volume and value of Scotch whisky sold at auction is reported to have increased by record amounts.

The value of collectable bottles of Scotch sold reached £25.06m ­– an increase of 76% on 2016 when £14.2m sold. The number of bottles sold, meanwhile, increased by 42% to 83,713.

Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, which compiled the findings, said: ‘We were fully expecting to break £20m for the first time. However, £25m shows the level of pure demand in the market at the moment.

‘The volume of bottles on the open market is at record highs, but demand for the right bottles, for now at least, continues to exceed these record levels of supply.’

The most expensive bottle to sell during the year was a 62-year-old Dalmore – one of only 12 bottles released – which fetched £91,650.

The amount fell short of the S$250,000 (£125,000) paid by a traveller at Singapore’s Changi Airport for another of the 12 bottles in 2011, highlighting the boom in demand for luxury whiskies in the Far East at the time.

David Robertson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said interest in old and rare Scotch whiskies from Asian buyers will fuel growth in the rare whisky auction market in future.

‘We are experiencing increasing demand from almost all parts of the globe. From a rare whisky perspective, approaching on the horizon are the dynamic economies and the burgeoning middle classes of mainland China and India; neither have got to the starting blocks yet, let alone begun to try and win the rare whisky acquisition race.

‘When and indeed if they do, we’re expecting demand to hit levels unlike anything we’ve ever seen.’

Chart toppers: The most expensive bottles of Scotch sold in 2017 per distillery, led by Dalmore 62 Year Old

While the 62-year-old Dalmore was the most expensive bottle sold at auction in 2017, it was closely followed by bottles from Macallan (£65,000) and Bowmore (£61,000).

The UK’s whisky auction market is the largest in the world, supported by a growth in the number of specialist auction houses in the past few years.

Simpson said: ‘As a category, Scotch is appealing to more and more buyers, and the pinnacle product, single malt, is becoming ever more popular with connoisseurs, collectors and investors.

‘Older spirit is still very challenging to come by in the cask and is commanding ever higher prices. We don’t see that changing.’

He added: ‘The rare whisky acquisition landscape has changed forever as the consumer, rather than the retailer, now decides what price they will pay for a bottle of rare and collectable whisky.’

Only last week a buyer paid £3,400 for a previously priceless miniature containing whisky purportedly from the lost Malt Mill distillery.

The amount is thought to have been the most yet paid for a miniature at auction.

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