For the first time since its formation, Perthshire based Whisky Auctioneer had more lots for sale than Scotch Whisky Auctions. Glasgow’s Scotch Whisky Auctions had 1,940 lots in their January auction vs 2,170 from Perth’s Whisky Auctioneer. We all know volume is vanity and one Swallow makes a summer as much as a Bells decanter is good for anything other than being a door stopper, but this year might be the toughest yet for our increasing whisky auction industry. Saturation point will come eventually; followed by consolidation. Competition looks tough, as SWA announced their first ever auction with 0% sellers commission. Interesting times ahead especially noting we’ll see more auctioneers being established this year AND, we suspect, more going by the wayside as has already happened. This is, of course, great news for buyers and sellers as it adds further liquidity to the market.
Exclude Krazy Karuizawa and the average £ per ‘collectable’ bottle appearing at auction in the UK is in decline. Lots more lots of low value bottles like Ardbeg Auriverdes etc are hitting the market and far fewer (relatively) auction gems such as Black Bowmore.
Despite the big volume, Whisky Auctioneer secured some high-end bottles with correspondingly high-end prices.
The first thing which stuck out like a 1966 Macallan among a sea of Sienna was Bruichladdich. Recent soft prices have seen some of the most collectable bottles selling for all-time lows. A bottle of PC5 recently took just £160 which is the same price as they were selling for in 2010; in reality that’s five long years with zero growth. All of a sudden we see a bottle of the far more voluminous PC6 selling for £320! Coupled with a few other decent results and a record £410 for Legacy IV, begs the question are Bruichladdich values on the mend? I still suspect not, but it’s still a possibility.
Putting last week’s Constellation auction Dal-zaster aside and older rarities from the Alness giant performed well. A bottle of the ‘distilled prior to 1960′ 25 year old Dalmore burst through £1,000 for the first time as the hammer fell at £1,050. Push back prices to 2010 as we did with PC5 and the Dalmore see’s a 338% increase from just £240. One of 1,000 bottles released of Dalmore’s 1966 vintage 40 year old fetched £3,000 for the first time. With a 2010 low-point of £600, this is among Dalmore’s finest performers.
Staying with ‘big bottles’ distilled in the 1960’s, the fourth release of Black Bowmore took a record £6,400, some £500 ahead of its previous record and streets apart from its £1,800 low. White Bowmore also fetched a record £4,100.
Illustrating that half bottles are about as appealing to the broader rare whisky market as a big burst of butyric in your Balvenie, the recent 35cl tots of Laphroaig 21 year old are selling for almost 20% under their current (and still very much available) retail price of £99. On the ‘froaig-flipside of the coin, a bottle of Douglas Laing’s 1989 21 year old… a full sized bottle… hit a £360 record.
Elsewhere in the auction, Douglas Laing’s 1975 27 year old Rosebank sold for £385 (£211 previous record), a bottle of St. Magdalene 1965/2001 Connoisseurs Choice nailed £380 (£310 previous record) and a 40 year old G&M Strathisla took £525 (£310 previous record).
All in all, a good set of results with some surprise action showing Bruichladdich still has a pulse at auction.