Private whisky collections worth an estimated £75million, and with an average value of £50,000, have been identified by new research carried out by Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) in partnership with Whisky Auctioneer.
The survey of 1,542 rare whisky connoisseurs, collectors and investors from across the world has revealed some startling new insights into the booming passion pursuit of rare whisky acquisition.
As well as uncovering the estimated values of individual collections which totaled some £74.547m and 326,000 bottles, the research reveals that whisky lovers are each spending, on average, more than £10,000 every year to indulge their passion for rare whisky. A small proportion (1%) are spending more than £100,000 per annum on their treasure hunting.
The average whisky collection comprises more than 200 bottles with an average bottle value of £228.
One in ten report to be in possession of collections valued at over £100,000.
The Macallan comes out on top as the most popular brand for acquisition, closely followed by Ardbeg, Highland Park and Springbank.
Just as the market has continued to thrive in recent years, so it appears that the majority of whisky collectors, connoisseurs and investors are beginning to realize the financial potential of their liquid assets. More than half (56%) are looking to make a positive financial return on their rare whisky collection. In fact, financial value is only deemed unimportant to just 18% of respondents.
For many of these whisky lovers, investing in rare Scotch is carried out alongside a small group of other passion pursuits. One in five also collect wine (19%), one in six watches (17%), one in eight art (13%), one in sixteen Classic Cars (7%), one in twenty five stamps (4%) and one in forty coins (2%).
Despite the big valuations placed on whisky collections, it seems that most buyers are still basing their estimates on how much they originally paid to purchase their bottles, recent auction prices or media research. Less than one in ten (9%) have actually sought out a recent professional full valuation of their collections. Only one in four (24%) seek professional help with their interest in whisky.
David Robertson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said: “We’ve known for many years that the secondary market for rare whisky has been growing at an exceptional rate. However, we don’t know a great deal about the worldwide community of connoisseurs, collector and investors. This research is a real eye opener for us. It’s very clear that whisky enthusiasts are prepared to invest serious sums in growing their rare whisky portfolios and many are looking to make a financial return on their investment. We anticipate that brand owners and distillers and retailers will need to develop intelligent strategies to ensure they can release and market new products to excite this dynamic new buyer.
“However, what’s more concerning is that, unlike many other passion pursuits, buyers are still not seeking professional advice on either the purchase or valuation of rare whisky. One thing this past year has taught us, brought in to sharp focus with The Macallan 1878 fake story, is that the rare whisky market is just as exposed to the problem of forgery as many other alternative assets – wine being the most adjacent. The untrained eye would not necessarily be able to spot a fake, but a professional can help to differentiate between fakes and the genuine article. An objective valuation could provide a real wake-up call for many investors and we would urge they seek expert support”
Sean McGlone, Director of Whisky Auctioneer commented:
“We’ve seen first-hand how the market for buying and selling rare whisky has boomed in recent years. However, this research provides us with some brand new insights into how our customers are collecting and investing in whisky. Since Whisky Auctioneer was founded back in 2013 we have seen a trend of record breaking values, and this is being reflected in the valuations which people are placing on their collections. I suspect that this may just be the tip of the iceberg as I’m sure there are plenty of amazing malts hiding in people’s collections around the world. The upwards trend of the average bottle price is very encouraging to see as it shows effectiveness of whisky collecting for financial return. We have built and grown Whisky Auctioneer out of our love of whisky and we take great pleasure in seeing the continued growth of our most loved passion.”
The value of rare Scotch whisky sales in the UK’s secondary market is set to top £20M for the first time this Full Year. Rare Whisky 101’s 2017 Half Year Report revealed that both the volume and value of rare Scotch whisky sold at auction had increased by record amounts during the reporting period. The £ value of collectable bottles of Single Malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK rose by 93.66% to an all-time half-year high of £11.176m (H1 2016 £5.771m). The number of bottles of Single Malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK increased by 47.25% to 39,061 (H1 2016 26,527). The Full Year 2017 RW101 report will be published in late January 2018.
For more information on rare whisky market performance and activity visit www.rarewhisky101.com
For more information about Whisky Auctioneer, please visit www.whiskyauctioneer.com.
Photo: Iain McClune, founder and owner of Whisky Auctioneer, with the collection of 296 Karuizawa whisky bottles which sold for £770,000 earlier this year. Photographer: Fraser Band, 07984 163 256, www.fraserband.co.uk