Weekly Auction Watch 1st Oct 2014

This week marks the end of another whisky auctioneer, this time it’s the relative newcomer Whiskyauction.co.uk. The UK franchise of longstanding Whiskyauction.com has closed its doors for good.

Why?

Simply put, it has to be price. Price and, I suspect, an element of overcrowding in the online auctioneer market.

Take a look at the pricing for Whisky Auctioneer and it’s great news from a buyers perspective; like a British entrant in Eurovision it’s nil points… or nil pounds in this case. But it’s not so great if you’re a seller and right now it’s a sellers’ market.

If you look at an average priced bottle of say £200; Whiskyauction.co.uk charges 20.89% commission – Net £158.22 to the seller. Then take a look at Whiskyauctioneer.com, just 30 miles up the road and it looks far more attractive. 5% sellers fee, £3 listing fee and £1.80 reserve fee (assuming a reserve of 10% under the hammer price at 1% of the reserve price). In this instance the seller would receive £185.20…. some £30, or 15%, more than Whiskyauction.

Are the hammer prices for these two neighbouring auctioneers vastly different (ie does Whisky auction justify the additional fees because it gets 15% more on the hammer price)? No, not really. Whisky auction have indeed had some strong results but Whiskyauctioneer hold the UK record for Port Ellen 1st release among others. So buyers are not paying significantly more at Whiskyauction.com just because there are no fees.

It may be significantly different with parent company Whiskyauction.com, however, in the UK there’s just too much competition… in this case virtually next door.

So while this may be the end of Whiskyauction.co.uk for the foreseeable future they certainly went out on a high with their best auction to date closing on the 20th of September.

The main highlight was a superb and extensive collection of the old Silent Stills bottles from Signatory. Just by the virtue of the name – Silent Stills – it looked like there would be some fierce bidding from the start.

I remember bidding a bottle of the 18 year old Silent Stills Brora up to £320 at a smaller independent auction in 2011. I then quit and lost the bottle for £330 (my rival bidder had a look of pure madness in his eyes so I politely ‘allowed’ him the bottle…. But kept my life!). It looks like my lost bottle would have been a good investment as one sold at Whiskyauction for £615.

Until relatively recently Banff has been something of a silent under-dog with the main interest going to Port Ellen and Brora. Current demand for anything from a closed distillery saw the 1966 34 year old sell for £515 significantly outpacing its last UK auction sale of £320 in 2013.

The Coleburn 16 year old took £380, a clear £200 ahead of its all-time low of £180 in 2012.

Lochside’s 31 year old on a 1966 vintage achieved £460, more than doubling its 2008 low of £200.

As expected The Silent Stills Port Ellen bottles also achieved new record prices. Three separate bottlings; an 18 year old, a 22 year old and a 23 year old sold for £555, £610 and £610 respectively.

Other than the silent stills bottles achieving great prices across the board everything else sold for what would be expected.

Another thing this auction highlighted is the importance of keeping all original packaging complete with a bottle. The unboxed variants of the Silent Stills bottles (lacking the box, the miniature and the cask piece) sold, in most cases, for 40% – 50% less than the boxed variants.

So we bid farewell to another whisky auctioneer…. Will there be others?

Until next week.

Slainte,

Andy

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