Scotch whisky auction market soared in 2018

The UK’s rare whisky auction market saw sales rise 62.7% to a record £40.7 million in 2018 as collectors snapped up more than 100,000 bottles.

The number of bottles sold increased 28.9%, while the average price per bottle was up 26.2% to a record £337.91.

That tally was boosted by 265 bottles being sold above the £10,000 mark, a 191% rise from the 91 sold in 2017.

Andy Simpson, co-founder and director at Rare Whisky 101, which crunched the numbers, said: “The secondary market for rare whisky continues to outperform our expectations. With the average bottle price increasing by around 15% from the half-year stage to year-end, we saw a rapid acceleration of activity within the last few months of the year.

“In fact, more than £15.5 million of value was sold in the final quarter of 2018, more than double 2014’s full year performance of £7.6 million. The value increase, in particular, is due in part to the two record-breaking 1926 Macallan bottles selling in December.

“While these two bottles were among the stand-out items for sale, they were by no means the exception. Across the board, we’re seeing an increased number of valuable bottles selling for greater value than ever before resulting in phenomenal growth within the market for over £1,000 bottles.”

A cool £1 million was paid for single bottle of 1926 Macallan in 2018 and that massively boosted overall sales in this channel.

David Robertson, also director and co-founder at Rare Whisky 101, added: “While demand for rare and vintage whisky shows no signs of slowing, the fundamentals of investing in the rare whisky market remains strong.

“The UK auction market remains the biggest and most active market worldwide, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. As consumption continues to increase, driven by connoisseurs, collectors and investors, the stocks of rare whisky will continue to diminish, creating the ideal conditions for escalating hammer prices.

“However, with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us, it is extremely difficult to second guess what will happen with cross border trade and access to bottles. From both a volume and value perspective, 2019 is very difficult to predict.”