Tag Archives: Balvenie

Weekly Auction Watch – 4th Jan 2015

Scotch Whisky Auctions opened 2016’s early auction scene with a bang yesterday. The bang was more of a resounding punch to the nose than a fizz-popping celebratory New Year firework – especially for famed north-east highland distillery, Dalmore.

2012 saw the release of the Dalmore Constellation Collection, a vertical vintage set of twenty-one bottles. Single casks, lavish (but not silly) packaging, in some cases ultra-limited numbers of bottles with many being among the very best quality drams one could ever have the pleasure of drinking.

Constellation Collection
A full 21 bottle salute

For the first time since their launch, a full set of Constellations hit the open market. It appears the original retail price of £158,000 was already deemed an improbable target by the seller whose reserve prices added up to £111,000 for the full set. Taking off 10% auctioneers commission and VAT would leave £97,680 for the vendor. That’s already a 38.18% loss over RRP.

A hypothetical buyers bargain? Surely all twenty-one bottles would be taken so set number 6 was kept in-tact? That was far from reality as Constellations became constipated and the nine most expensive bottles failed to move through the auction.

Just twelve bottles saw the hammer fall as the reserve was hit. They were also the lower value bottles and only yielded £27,200 in terms of total hammer price (£23,936 to the vendor after commission and VAT). The original RRP of these twelve bottles was £40,500 so that’s a loss of 40.90%.

Clearly we have no idea why the owner wanted to sell; these could have been an unwanted gift or a lavish celebratory dram for a wedding which never happened… or 1001 other reasons.

If… IF, these were bought as an investment, this has to be listed as the biggest whisky auctioneering failure since the Bowmore 1957 54 year old crashed and burned at Bonhams in 2012. Same as the Dalmore Paterson Collection (whatever happened to that?), the price of a Constellation set, even a bottle, removes most drinkers from the market and, from what we’ve seen here, also doesn’t look like an investment; that purely leaves the collectors. When a bottle/collection targets one buyer group and ignores the rest, it’s doomed to a fate like this when it finally sees the light of auction.

Imagine buying a theoretical set of bottles for £158,000 as an investment and selling what you could for just £27,200. Ouch doesn’t even come close.

Away from Constellations and Dalmore fared better. The first bottle of the 2015 release fifteen year old Custodians bottle achieved £350, way over its retail price of £100.

Balvenie DCS CompendiumStaying with the vintage vertical concept, Balvenie saw the youngest of its recent DCS Compendium collection sell for more than its original retail price. One of 218 bottles of the 9 year old sold for £520, some 30% ahead of its £400 original retail price.

History shows us, January’s not the best month to sell one’s crown jewels from a whisky perspective; interest and prices tend to be on the low side (even more unhelpful for the Constellation Collection). There were, however, some great results for certin rarities.Ardbeg 1972 c866

Ardbeg’s 1972 vintage (cask 866) fetched a record £1,450. Its previous best was £1,050 in 2014 and its low-point was just £300 in 2008.

Glenlivet 1955Older vintages continue to increase in both rarity and price. Gordon & MacPhail’s 2005 bottled 1955 vintage Glenlivet sold for £760, way surpassing it low of £300 in 2008 and its previous record of £600 in 2015.St Mag 1963 CC

Other than a St. Magdalene 1963 Connoisseurs Choice tipping the scales for a record £490, it was a relatively quiet start to 2016.

There’s the usual raft of auctions this month so it’ll be interesting to see if the bidding picks up as the festive fog of alcohol and food lifts.

Now and Then – Sherry Bombs.

The Past, the Present and the Future.

Slightly back to front, I’m going to start with the results before we get into some more detail. We recently blindly assessed some of the worlds largest and most influential single malt brands… Can their current entry level bottles keep up with discontinued past versions?

MACALLAN, GLENFARCLAS, BALVENIE, GLENDRONACH, HIGHLAND PARK and ABERLOUR… Take the stage!

b_highest_score_bybottle_ranked


The second ‘Now and Then’ was once again hosted by the whisky guru and raconteur Mr Charlie MacLean. For those unfamiliar with the Now and Then club, we meet now and then, and we compare/contrast whisky from now and then.

IMG_6063

Bacon sarnies, coffee and great conversations kicked us off in high spirits and we were delighted to welcome Gavin Smith to his first session – The full quintet was together for the first time.

IMG_6060

IMG_6065Sherry bomb sampling of 6 highly respected distilleries was the tough ask of the day.

We chose the above distilleries for their strong sherry bias, past and/or present. All are strong brands with a pedigree of unquestionable quality…. But that was then and this is now!

IMG_6064Before some in-depth analysis of the scores we pose the hypothesis – OLDER BOTTLINGS ARE BETTER!

Some personal musings and opinions close to my heart as to why this hypothesis might be true –

AGE: Is the average age of whisky in the old bottles higher than the contemporary bottlings?  Stock management is tricky when demand is outstripping supply. In days of yore (the 1970s, 80s and 90s) there was maybe a little less pressure on stocks and a master distiller or whisky maker could be a bit more flexible with the casks he/she selected for vatting, marrying and bottling.

I can clearly recall at Macallan we had large stocks of whisky from 1979 and 1980 which allowed our 10 and 12 year old whiskies, in the early to mid-1990s, to have the inclusion of older liquid. In percentage terms the amount of older whisky added was small but it none the less increased maturity, quality and richness.  It allowed me to balance out any younger, rougher, less mature stock even though that whisky was technically of the right age.

When Macallan was acquired by Highland Distillers in summer 1996 we began to look at the average age of all Macallan bottlings and compare them with Highland Park…..and guess what we found! The HP 12 was an average age of 16.7 years and Macallan 12 was around 12.5 to 13 years of age. No wonder HP 12 was winning so many awards back then. The folks at HP had it easy. I would have loved to make the Macallan 12 with spirit of an average (so there was some really old stuff going in!) age of 16.7 years old!

WOOD: More sherry influence in the old bottles and less in new releases? Have the casks changed? Has the process of “designing” the wood and setting in place acorn to cask supply chains reduced the quality of the wood? Is the wine/sherry seasoning delivering what is required? If I were heading up some of these large brand owning companies today I would worry much less about distillery efficiencies of mashing, fermentation and distillation (which has been done to death over recent decades and continues to lead to operational efficiency creep and spirit standardisation) and focus more, much more, on the “right first time” wood supply efficiency and effectiveness.

It seems to me to be crazy that production managers are held to account for minor efficiency enhancements but the same is not done to those employees sourcing the wood.  Research continues to suggest that the wood can contribute around 80 % of a mature whiskies character – I bet not even 8% of a companies operations research budget goes in to wood supply chain improvements!

The key here is the wood extractive potential and for European oak sherry casks you need lots of tannin potential to drive spices in to the spirit, sherry to add dried fruit flavours and then time and oxidation to shape, transform and mellow the whisky and add fragrance, orange and oak notes.

Of course, if we did an American white oak tasting we would be looking for vanillin and lactone extractives – caramel, toffee, crème brule, vanilla, fresh fruits and lemon citrus notes.

PROCESS: Barley varieties, slower malting, gentler mashing, more complex fermentation, direct fired stills and different cut points? All factors which to a greater or lesser degree change a new-make’s character. We know this but believe age and wood will have far more of a contributory influence.

BOTTLE AGEING: How does the spirit change in the glass over time? Chemically speaking, it must. Does significant bottle ageing change a spirit for the better, softening, rounding out and harmonising flavours? We believe it does.

All simple hypotheses (and opinion); none of which would be easy to prove one way or the other.

But what did the results say?

As usual we scored each whisky out of 10, meaning each whisky could achieve a maximum 50 points. We (Charles MacLean, Darren Leitch, Gavin Smith, Andy Simpson and I (David Robertson)) nosed and tasted the whiskies blind, in clear rather than blue glass and compared old v new for the following major brands –

 

Now (purchased July 2015)                     Then (1970s, 1980s & 1990s bottlings)

The Macallan Gold                                      The Macallan 10 yo, 1990s

Balvenie 12 yo Double Wood                      Balvenie 10 yo Founders Reserve 1990s

Glendronach 12 yo                                      Glendronach 12 yo 1980s

Glenfarclas 15 yo                                        Glenfarclas 15 yo 1970s

Highland Park 12 yo                                    Highland Park 12 yo 1980s

Aberlour 10 yo                                             Aberlour 8 yo 1970

As with our first session all about old vs new blends, this isn’t going to be a traditional write up of tasting notes, it’s going to be a little more focussed on the stats.


Single Malts are en-vogue.  Auctions continue to gather pace and achieved prices remain very bullish. So, time to see what all the fuss is about with old, sherry cask matured whiskies from some of the most sought after distillers.

The Final Scores.

a_total_scores

As seen earlier but worthy of comment –

The top 3 whiskies were Macallan 10 (old), Balvenie 10 (old) and Glendronach 12 (new).  So what can we learn from this?  Many of our clients and ‘the noise in the pipes’ we hear, suggests Macallan is losing its sherry style and that Glendronach is the new sherry bomb on the block. Our results certaintly agree with that. Macallan old greatly outscores Macallan new 38 points to 21.  Glendronach new outscores its own old by 33 to 30 and is the only instance where the new whisky was rated more highly that its older twin – well done Billy Walker and team for the continued focus on high quality sherry wood!

Turning to Balvenie we see old scored 35 to new of 31 – both delicious whiskies.  Interestingly Balvenie’s combined old and new scores were the highest at 66 points, just shading Glendronach’s total at 63.

c_combined_winning_brand

Apart from Glendronach, the panel preferred the older variants from the other 5 distillers.   Is this proof that older bottlings are better than their younger twins of today…we say yes, but it depends on the brand.

Brand Analysis – Variance in Scores: New to Old

e_score_variance_new_to_old

Macallan shows the greatest difference in score followed by Glenfarclas and then Highland Park.  Aberlour and Balvenie are pretty close with the old variants being slightly preferred overall by the panel.   Glendronach bucks the trend, with the new variant outscoring the old variant by 3 points.

Positives & Negatives – We had to at least do some tasting notes!

Top 3 whiskies

Macallan Old 38 pts – rich, dried fruits, spices, orange

Balvenie Old 35 pts –  subtly sweet, honey, fruits, vanilla

Glendronach New 33 pts – fruity, apple, pears, malted barley

Bottom 3 whiskies

Glenfarclas New 15 pts – sweet and sour, caramel, toffee, odd

Macallan New 21 pts – sweet, vanilla, tropical fruit, waxy, slightly sour

Highland Park New 25 pts – sweet, herbal, floral, light smoke

Overall Brand Scores.

When both old and new are combined we get a view of brand quality.   It was thought that Glenfarclas with its 15 yo entry would score highest and have the advantage of age.  That was not the case, the new 15 yo GF was the lowest scoring whisky with only 15 points – an average per taster of 3 points!  WOW, this is serious.  Especially as The Whisky Exchange has this bottling as one of its favourites. We can only assume batch variation is the culprit here.

TWE Glenfarclas 15

Has the mighty independent force of will from the Grant family maybe not got as many brilliant sherry casks as had been thought!

Highland Park was second last with a total of 59 points, only 2 behind Macallan – are Edrington struggling to keep pace with demand and is quality of wood purchase and thus bottlings suffering?  Do they need to get Billy Walker to source their sherry casks?

The other three distillers all scored in excess of 60 points.

Personal Scores – THE HIGHS AND LOWS

d_total_awarded_points_by_scorer

Gavin was the most generous awarding a total of 83 marks and was the most easy to please and found 5 whiskies worthy of 8 points, averaging 6.92 points per sample.

Charlie had the nose that seemed least excited and only awarded 59 points across all the samples, averaging 4.92 points per whisky with a spread of 8 to 2 points.

Darren, Andy and I awarded 64, 75 and 70 points respectively and were close to the average.

The Favourites.

So, which whiskies did each panel member want to take home!

Gav loved Old Mac, Old Glendronach, New Glendronach, Balvenie New and Aberlour Old – scoring them all 8/10.

Darren was a bit more discriminating, awarding 8/10 just once and lusted after the new Glendronach.

Charlie, tough (as old boots) and hard to impress, liked the old Balvenie and gifted it 8/10.

Andy with a 9/10 demanded the old Aberlour.

I thought 2 whiskies worthy of the magic full marks of 10 – Macallan old and Balvenie old – maybe my nose can still recognise that delicious old sherry style after all and I fondly recall working as a car park attendant at Glenfiddich/Balvenie in summer 1986 and the access I got to the old founders reserve.

The not-so-goods.

The lowest scores were given by Gav, Darren, Charlie and Andy to the new Glenfarclas 15 with 5, 2, 2 and 2 points respectively.

I was the outlier, scoring the current Glenfarclas 4/10 but I found the old Glendronach a little less pleasing and scored it 3/10.

Apart from Glendronach the findings here echo what we saw in our blends assessment.

Maybe Billy Walker should be made COO for Sherry Wood supplies to the industry – he seems to be getting it right more than some of the much, much bigger guys!

So what?  Where can you go to get these great old variants?  Auctions is one key place and we have found that prices for these old bottlings range from £60 to £120.   Interestingly, the new variants range in price from £25 to £45. The Aberlour 10 year old looks to be best bang-for-buck and is frequently discounted to around £20 per bottle.

Next time we’re together we move onto the Islands. I can bat the ball back to Andy and set him the challenge of an Islay Now and Then.  And after that, we will look to do some ex bourbon matured malts – with some of The Glens – Morangie, Livet, Fiddich, Grant, Rothes.

The difference between old and new bottlings of the blends was significantly more heavily weighted towards the older variant. With malts, it seems the scores are somewhat closer. The new blends achieved just 58% of the score of the old versions where the new malts achieved 78%… the quality of blends looks to have slipped more than malts… or do blends continue to ‘marry’ in the bottle far more than malts?

As the ex-Master Distiller from the (past?) king of sherry, The Macallan, it has been a fascinating tasting and report to compile! Please email in your comments and questions.  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Slainte

David.

Weekly Auction Watch – 16th July 2015

Vintage Macallan Values Continue to Harden.

Building on last weeks positive outcome for Macallan, older vintage bottles appear to be shifting north; in some cases rapidly. It’s no secret secondary market values for Macallan had a relatively tough time throughout 2014. With a cross-brand all-bottle decline of 7.43%, the king of collectables took a relatively wide-reaching correction in investment terms.

Throughout 2015, certainly for discontinued older vintage bottles, things appear far more buoyant. A hardening in prices continued at the recent Whisky Auctioneer sale.

Four 25-year-old Anniversary Malt’s were sold with two achieving outright new records and the other two trading at the top end of recent prices.

Macallan Anniversary Malts continue upside
Macallan Anniversary Malts continue upside
  • The 1957/1983 vintage fetched a record £2,200; just £600 would have secured this bottle in 2010.
  • The 1968/1993 vintage fetched £1,300, not a record but way ahead of its previous most recent £950.
  • The 1971/1997 vintage fetched £1,200, again not a record but significantly above its recent £900 trading level.
  • The 1974/1999 vintage fetched £1,020, just £20 over its previous record price, but a record none the less.

On a more contemporary basis, while the ‘M’ decanter only managed £2,150, the Queens Diamond Jubilee cemented recent gains and settled around £1,120 per bottle – well up on the previous £750 – £850 prices achieved.

One for drinking
One for drinking

The Macallan ‘M’ decanter is an interesting concept. Unlike some bottles of Macallan, It wasn’t released with the collectors market in mind; it was released solely as a showcase for top of the range Macallan as a drink. I recently spoke to a business associate who asked my opinion on buying ‘M’ as an investment. My answer was to spend his money elsewhere and not to go near M as a collectable or investment… “Too late” came the unfortunate cry. It transpires he’s already bought four bottles! With a lot of patience it might claw back its losses… especially it it’s discontinued at some point in the future.

Away from Macallan…

Twice the price over just 12 months
Twice the price over just 12 months

Bottles from silent distilleries maintained their current positive price trajectory with Rosebank looking especially favourable. A bottle of 1967 vintage 26-year-old bottled by Signatory stormed in at £750; more than doubling its 2014 price of £350. The 1979 vintage 20-year-old Rosebank from The Rare Malts Selection range hit £450, not quite an absolute record (£660 was the ‘spiky’ price paid for a bottle in 2013) but way ahead of its £80 price tag in 2010.

Showing you don’t have to pay many hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of pounds to get on the silent stills ladder, a bottle of Inverleven (a distillery within a distillery) 1985/1999 by Gordon and MacPhail achieved £84; more than doubling its 2011 price of £40.

Glenlivet 1955
1955 Glenlivet

While many official bottles from Glenlivet continue to decline in value, the older vintage releases from Gordon and MacPhail are moving well. £675 took a 1955/2001 bottle, pushing it well ahead of its previous £450.

In my view, Glenlivet OB values will continue to fall. In terms of buying quality drinking stock on the secondary market, if the new Founders Reserve is anything to go by (tried it, left it, won’t return to it), we’ll see further polarisation between modern OB’s and discontinued IB’s.

Digressing slightly, the interesting conundrum for the Glenlivet Founders Reserve will be to see if it manages to recruit volumes of ‘new-to-category’ drinkers without turning away more seasoned whisky consumers. I fear the bigger challenge may be to get any new recruits to return for a second go…. who knows, I could be utterly wrong and it gets judged the best thing in the world at some award or another.

Back to the numbers and the current surge in Highland Park prices remains unchanged. Earl Haakon hit its highest price since November 2014 and a bottle of 1974 vintage (cask 11501, Viking Cinderella) sold for £750. £410 was the previous price paid for this bottle earlier in 2015.

Highland Park 1974 and Earl Haakon
Highland Park 1974 and Earl Haakon

Showing how rarities often make huge step-change leaps in value when they are rarely seen on the market, a bottle of Connoisseurs Choice 1957 Longmorn 25-year-old sold for £525. That was merely its second time at auction in the UK, on its first outing in 2008 it made £220.

Finally this week, it almost looks like Glenfiddich is giving its gilt-edged sibling Balvenie a bloody nose in the collectors stakes. The Glenfiddich 1958 sold for £4,400, way ahead of its previous £2,350 and even way ahead of the £2,750 it costs in travel retail.

Glenfiddich 1958 and 1972
Glenfiddich 1958 and 1972
Glenfiddich 1958 current retail price. Cheaper than buying at auction
Glenfiddich 1958 current retail price. Cheaper than buying at auction

At these prices it might not remain in travel retail for much longer. A bottle of 1972 vintage (from cask 16032) managed to take £900 on the nose, almost doubling its 2013 price of £460.

All in all, a good auction with some very impressive results.

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

Images courtesy of Whiskyauctioneer.com

Weekly Auction Watch 17th June 2015

The very first distillery ‘rank’ for collectors/investors was the quarter one 2010 premier of the, as was, Whisky Highland Index. It looked like this – not great but it did the job!

The very first Whisky Highland Index - March 2010
The very first Whisky Highland Index – March 2010

The reason for sharing this utterly out of date data is not one of nostalgia, it’s all to do with Highland Park. The Orkney heavyweight was number three in the index, literally 0.05 of a point behind Ardbeg and yielding number one place to the might of The Macallan. At the time, massive demand was driving Highland Park to an impressive top three position.

When the final Whisky Highland Index was published (Before RW101 took the reins) exactly four years later, Highland Park had slumped to number 17. The top spot remained occupied by the same Spey-banker but positions two and three were now taken by silent icons Port Ellen and Brora. Time, trends and demand had changed, leaving Highland Park out in the cold.

With the recent separation of the distillery rankings into the RW101 collectors index and investors index (collectors index in effect measures overall volumes and the investors index measures value changes), Highland Park remains heavily traded sitting at number six in the collectors index. The Investors Index tells a different story as the brand languishes in 44th place, quite surprising for such an iconic distillery. Even more surprising is that Highland Park has slipped 11 places since the end of 2014 when they occupied 33rd position. There are various reasons for the significant changes, but now’s not the time to have that debate.

Why such HP sauce related detail?

They had an absolute belter of an auction at the recent Scotch Whisky Auctions (SWA) sale. Putting aside the usual massively traded bottles such as Freya and co, the vast majority of the rarer bottles performed exceptionally.

Older vintage Highland Park bottles excel.
Older vintage Highland Park bottles excel.

The 1967 vintage release fetched £500 for the first time ever, exceeding its previous record by £40. Two 1973 vintages hit new highs as the 30 year old (cask 11207) held £540, up from just £160 in 2010, and the Travel Retail 37 year old achieved £820.

From memory, when Highland Park released the final Ambassador’s Cask that was around the time I really stopped collecting the brand so it was great to see the first release perform so well. A bottle of the first Ambassador’s Cask sold for £620; more than doubling its previous result.

Another one of the lovely old single cask releases (cask #45, 528 bottles, 1984 vintage) achieved £440, massively outstripping its previous best of £185.

It wasn’t just OB’s which took the limelight, a bottle of the Dragon 1961 vintage sailed up to £1,000, the first time this bottle’s seen the heady heights of four figures.

Record price breaking Highland Park rarities
Record price breaking Highland Park rarities

The surprise low-point was a bottle of the ultra-rare (just 89 bottles) Queen of the South which sold for £280. This saw £410 last October and even £275 in 2008 just after its release.

On the other side of the coin, almost in rebellion to Highland Park’s frothy market antics, Balvenie had a relatively tough time. Over-supply didn’t appear to be to blame either; however, most bottles (especially the Tun 1401’s) were significantly off their recent pace… A sign of things to come? Is the worm turning for golden balls-venie?

Silent distilleries saw plenty of action with new record prices for many bottles sold.

Rosebank 25
Rosebank 25
PE Feis 2008
PE Feis 2008

The big-bottle was a Port Ellen 2008 Feis Ile which sailed through its previous best to finish on £3,300. Another official release record from drinks behemoth Diageo was the £580 paid (each) for brace of Rosebank 25 year olds. Great yields against an original retail price of £125.

In many cases Indie bottles from silent stills took recent good form to a new level. The Glenugie 1977 Oloroso cask from Signatory went for £300; an incredible £50 took this in 2011. Douglas Laing’s 1979 22 year old Lochside sold for £175, almost doubling its 2012 price of £90. Gordon and MacPhail’s Connoisseurs Choice bottles saw some good action when a 1969 Convalmore sold for £270 and a 1981 North Port achieved £165, both new all-time highs.

Independent bottles from  silent distilleries remain on form
Independent bottles from silent distilleries remain on form

Finishing this week back in the land of the living and Dalmore’s 1981 Matusalem Sherry Finesse sold for an amazing £1,350. That’s almost £1,000 ahead of its relatively recent prices. The infrequently mentioned Dalwhinnie saw the 1973 29 year old Special Release from 2003 sell for £270, a clear £200 (or 286%) ahead of its paltry 2009 price of just £70.

Impressive performances from older Dalmore and Dalwhinnie bottles
Impressive performances from older Dalmore and Dalwhinnie bottles

Buoyancy persists in general as we head into the traditionally more challenging peak summer months.

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

All images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions

Weekly Auction Watch – 7th April 2015

An £11,400 loss on the sale of one bottle of whisky.

Take into account 10% plus VAT sellers commission and the retail to auction crystallised loss is £13,212, or -49.86%.

That was the state of play at the recent Whisky-Online Auctions sale for a bottle of the 2014 release Balvenie 50 year old. The retail price for one of 128 bottles from cask number 4570 is £26,500… the hammer fell at just £15,100.

How to lose over £10,000 in one trade for one bottle.
How to lose over £10,000 in one trade for one bottle.

Why sell such a recently released high end rarity at auction? There’s probably a whole host of reasons from a sellers perspective and one could speculate all day; unwanted gift? Just need the cash? Whatever. Speculation aside, one of the great things about an auction is it shows the true market value for something. I’ve been asked many times if I think the new Balvenie 50’s are a good investment, my answer’s always been no. Certainly not in the short to medium term; long term, possibly; with the lack of old stock at the moment anything’s a definite maybe. A collectors piece? Absolutely… This is without question a halo bottle in any Balvenie collection. If you must have every bottle of Balvenie then you have to get one of these. I hope there’s a very happy Balvenie collector out there… or maybe a happy Balvenie drinker?!

So the Balvenie sold for 56.98% of its current retail price (hammer price compared to VAT inclusive retail price). In a very different area of the market, lower down the value chain, we saw a bottle sell for 600% more than its current retail price.

Whisky-Online Auctions brought the first bottles of Ardbeg Perpetuum to market.

These first three bottles sold for £490, £410 and £400 per bottle. With a current retail price of £70 (and only available from the distillery), I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – patience is key when buying if you have future gains at all in mind.

Ardbeg's Marketing team rejected this bottle label as it may have just been a little too obvious.
Ardbeg’s Marketing team rejected this bottle label as it may have just been a little too obvious.

As an example, listed among the first few sales of last years (£120 per bottle) Ardbeg Kildalton, highs of £470, £460 and £450 were observed. Currently, the bottle’s selling for around £125 – £140 at auction.

With 12,000 bottles of Perpetuum for sale, rest assured the auction market will be flooded after this years Feis Ile. If you can’t get one on Islay in person, give it six or twelve months, let the dust to settle, and pick one up at a slightly less aggressive price.

Among the highs and the lows, the usual mix of rarities, collectors bottles and good old drinkers prevailed throughout one of Whisky-Online Auctions usual high quality sales.

In what looks to be a run-up to the aforementioned Feis Ile 2015, Islay in general had a great auction.

Laphroaig are moving through a real sea-change in prices for their older discontinued bottles. With its 2009 – £400 low-point long in the past, a bottle of 1980 27 year old (Oloroso) managed a huge new record of £1,450. The 2006 Feis Ile bottle settled on a record £400, more than doubling its 2013 low of £165.

Laphhroaig collectible pace-setters
Collectible pace-setters from Laphroaig

Bowmore saw its 4th release of Black Bowmore fetch £5,900. With a previous auction sale price of £2,700 in 2013 ‘big’ Bowmore’s still pull the crowds. The original Black Bormore first release sold for £4,600, some £400 off its current record but way ahead of its 2010 low of £1,600. Bowmore’s 1972 27 year old also hit a new high when it achieved £700. The most recent price for the 1972 27 year old was £480 and its all-time low was just £120 in 2010.

A brace of Bowmore's Black
A brace of Bowmore’s Black

As a collection, many bottles from the Rare Malts Selection have shown signs of values moving north.

The standout at this auction was a bottle of 1972 23 year old Clynelish which sold for an amazing £825; more than double its previous auction price of £350.

Clynelish Rare Malt outperforms the market

Fellow northern highlander, Glenmorangie, saw a bottle of ‘Traditional’ sell for £135… in 2011 one sold for just £30. Showing how polarised the market is right now, a bottle of Glenmorangie Grand Slam Dram sold for £32.50, its lowest price on record.

With so much chaff and distraction in the market from a new release perspective it was pleasing to see continued buoyancy on the secondary market. Full details will be published in our Monthly Market Watch, however, the first quarter of 2015 looks to have been a success for whisky as an alternative investment. The two core indices for rare whisky, the Rare Whisky Icon100 index and the Rare Whisky Apex1000 index, are both meaningfully up by 7.24% and 4.36% respectively.

One shouldn’t count one’s early Easter chickens just yet but the entry into 2015 has been far more positive than the exit from 2014.

Until next time.

Slainte,

Andy

Images courtesy of Whisky-Online Auctions