Andy Simpson gives us this weeks whisky investment news…
From the surreal to the sublime! Last weeks update was among the shortest I’ve written to date….. Then along came three significant auctions in one week!
Mulberry Bank and Bonhams closed out quarter two, with Scotch Whisky Auctions opening the bidding for quarter three. As suspected, there were plenty of new record prices seen at each of the auctions; and a few bargains to be snapped up by canny buyers too.
Mulberry Bank Auctions (Glasgow) saw an impressive selection of bottles with some exceptionally rare lots generating plenty of interest.
One of the highlights was a Springbank 175th Anniversary set selling for £3,600. Nothing like the far more common 175th Anniversary bottle, this is a set of 6 x 20 cl bottles containing whisky at 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 years old. Only 50 of these presentation sets were released which explains why these sold for the same price as the Springbank Millennium set (same aged whisky but full sized bottles)…. The old (very male!) saying “it’s not size that matters” certainly applies here.
Campbeltown featured heavily in other highlights from Mulberry Bank; a bottle of 1973 Longrow “First Distillation, Last Cask” set a new record of £1,600 and a ‘green’ Springbank 1973 sold for £820. It’s my opinion that older vintage Springbanks will start to experience something of a resurgence in coming months/years following a relatively fallow period of flat prices.
A bottle of 2008 Macallan Easter Elchies (the first annual release of what is currently 4 bottles) hit £360 which is just over three times its original retail release price.
A huge selection of Managers dram bottles experienced a real polarity in sale prices. On one side of the coin, a bottle of Oban 200th Anniversary Managers Dram hit a new record of £380; on the flip side, a number of bundled lots were seeing as little as £80 per bottle.
My final featured bottle from Mulberry Bank Auctions is the 1985 Glenburgie “Distillery Re-Opening” bottle which sold for a record low of just £85….. I’ll come back to this particular bottle later on.
Bonhams (Edinburgh) had its usual selection of high end Macallan bottles scattered among a whole raft of both investment grade Scotch and good drinking whisky.
A bottle of Macallan 1928 50 year old sold for a new record of £14,000. This really does demonstrate that high end whisky from the right distillery can increase in value rapidly. This bottle sold in 2008 for £4,400!
Another high end trophy bottle to see a new record was the Dalmore 1926 50 year old (dumpy black decanter) which saw £7,000 bid before the hammer fell. The previous record for this bottle was £5,500 in December 2011: That represents a 27% increase in 6 months.
One of the first releases of 1966 Springbank Local Barley (these were released in 1990 and are known as the ‘West Highland Malt’ label bottles) hit a new high of £1,300. These bottles achieve roughly £500 – £700 more than the slightly more common later releases.
Port Ellen featured heavily: A 6th release achieved £420 in what’s rapidly turning out to be the collectable/investment grade set of the decade. I daren’t even think about what could happen to prices for the official Port Ellen releases when stocks eventually run dry.
Now, back to that bottle of Glenburgie I spoke of earlier. As mentioned, on the 26th of June at Mulberry Bank auctions it sold for a record low of £85. At Bonhams on the 27th of June it sold for a record high of £420! More frequently this bottle has been selling for around £300 but it just shows bargains are still there if you know the market.
Scotch Whisky Auctions saw their largest auction to date open the bidding for what promises to be an interesting quarter three. An impressive sale saw many records tumble under Glasgows finest electronic hammer.
The auction highlight for me was a new record for the 1963 Bowmore which sold for £1450. That represents a gain in excess of 100% on prices just two years ago.
Those sellers who were quick off the mark and got their “Ardbeg Day” bottles into auction were justly rewarded (there were four in total). Three sold for £145 with the final bottle achieving a new record of £155 for this recent release. These figures represent an increase in value of more than 100% in one month!
If you’re an Arran collector, SWA is the place to go. Each month sees an increasing volume of rare and collectable bottles from this relatively new but very popular distillery. A new record high was achieved, not just for one bottle, but for the whole distillery when a 15th Anniversary commemorative bottle sold for an impressive £250 (the dumpy broad shouldered one in the black box at 51.4% ABV, 600 bottles released).
There were some superb prices seen for buyers too; a bottle of Bruichladdich 20 year old, second release, “Flirtation” sold for just £45. These retailed for almost £70 when they were released years ago. Great drinking whisky for a great price!
Looking to quarter three, I see no slowing in the volume of whisky hitting the secondary (auction) market. I haven’t seen the expected slowing of growth either, which really surprises me. With the increasing supply I’m still being relatively cautious in my outlook. Broadly speaking values have increased over the course of quarter two and the market looks very bullish….. I do still find myself asking if it’s sustainable?….. As usual, only time will tell!