Some time ago we posted up some images of a fake bottle of Macallan 18 year old Gran Reserva.
The bottle had been auctioned at Perth based Whiskyauctioneer.com (WA). As soon as the auction-house realised the bottle was fake they cancelled the sale and all was good in the world of rare whisky again. The right thing was done by a responsible auctioneer who take fakes very seriously.
The big problem is, much as all reputable auctioneers would like to destroy the bottle and remove it from the market, legally, they cannot. The offending item has to be returned to the owner who can choose whatever they wish to do with it. Probably list it on ebay in some cases, in others something far more interesting.
On this particular occasion the owner did something brilliant. They agreed the bottle could be opened and the contents, at least to some degree, analysed.
Thanks to Whiskyauctioneer.com we managed to obtain a 20ml sample from the full bottle. The team at WA described the contents upon nosing the full, open bottle as “a bit funky”. A descriptor we would wholeheartedly agree with.
Without sending the sample for a pile of chemistry doing, we too, assessed it organoleptically and measured the alcohol content with our faithful portable alcohol meter… affectionatley known as ‘Scooshie’.
Even upon the full bottle being opened, you could smell far more grape than grain in the bottle.
After nosing the sample in detail we came to the conclusion this was indeed some sort of whisky (most likely a cheap blend) diluted with cheap, dark sherry to give a very good colour match. There was clearly some ‘bite’ and a far higher level of alcohol than simply sherry on its own. Just imagine the damage these things could do to a brand if it’s not spotted as a fake and the gets consumed in the (false) knowledge that this is the real thing?
Scooshie confirmed what we thought when she told us (accurate to within +/- 0.2% ABV) the liquid was 34.77%.
So if you have a massively burning desire to explore what cheap supermarket, own brand, bottom shelf, blended Scotch tastes like when mixed with cheap dark sherry… go on ebay and buy a bottle of Macallan Gran Reserva!
Values for high end collectables continue to increase as polarisation widens the gap between good and bad.
April set a new record for the highest number of collectable bottles traded on the open market. The previous record in December 2014 was 4,153. Last month’s 4,309 exceeded April 2014’s volume by an impressive 55.84% (2,765 bottles sold in April 2014). Year to date, one third of the way through 2015, the total number of bottles traded stands at 13,857, some 51.54% ahead of the 9,144 bottles sold in same period last year.
November and December 2014’s significant supply pushed values down, suggesting demand had finally succumbed to huge supply. The same expectation could be assumed with April’s record volumes; however, this couldn’t be further from the reality. Impressively, the vast majority of key indices moved up, in some cases significantly. On the flip-side of the value coin, less desirable bottles shifted further into red territory with record losses taking the negative indices to all-time lows.
The composite index April changes ranked in order of increase/decrease are –
Staggering demand for Karuizawa yielded a record monthly increase of 26.26% with virtually every bottle sold on the open market hitting new record highs. In some cases the increases were vast. ‘Pourquoi fait il’, a 1980 vintage was previously selling for £1,350; one sold in April for £3,200. The sheer pace of these increases doesn’t feel sustainable, however, there would appear to be continued upside potential for those with a stake in this silent Japanese distillery.
The Brora index was buoyed by increases from the 2006 30 year old release and the 2008 25 year old. The 25 year old moved from a March value of £400 to £720 in April, an 80% jump. Virtually all other bottles remained static. The chart below shows the average price of a bottle of Brora from 2010 to the end of April 2015 (releases 1 – 7). 2014 saw the most significant movement in average prices with a 58.48% increase over 2013.
If we then take a look at the volume of Brora traded at auction, 2014 shows a clear dip in supply.
The first four months of 2015 suggests we’ll see roughly 45 bottles sold this year. This might also suggest a slower rate of pure value growth noting volume at that level would be a new record. If supply declines, we would expect to see a steeper increase in prices throughout the later months of 2015.
Putting aside the current static market for many more contemporary bottles of Macallan, both the 18 year olds and the 25 year olds made good progress with 3.80% and 2.55% increases respectively. With 2014 annual growth rates of 3.57% for the 18’s and 3.77% for the 25’s, April’s performance is rather more encouraging.
The benchmark Icon100 index just managed to post a gain for the month, closing up 0.68%. 27/100 bottles increased in value, 52/100 bottles remained static and 21/100 bottles decreased.
The best three performers in the month were the aforementioned Brora OB 25 year old (up 80%) followed by Macallan 1979 Gran Reserva (up 62.50%) and the Glenmorangie Culloden bottle (up 54.29%).
April’s worst performing three bottles in the Icon100 were the Family Silver from Glenglassaugh (down 29.41%), the 200th Anniversary Oban Managers Dram (down 35%) and the Dalmore 1985 vintage Distillery Exclusive (down 52.78%).
The negative indices all moved significantly further into the deep-south. The Neg1000, Neg250 and Neg100 indices tumbled by 2.05%, 3.80% and 2.57% respectively. These are among the most significant falls ever witnessed and take all three indices to new all-time lows. Polarisation and a steady decline in certain mass-volume brands are taking the brunt of the falls. Bruichladdich’s continuing broad-based slide in values marks them as the only distillery with two bottles in the bottom 10.
Rapid and continued polarisation aside, April should be viewed in particularly positive light. Record breaking supply has the very real potential to cool the market as was seen in the latter months of 2014.
It seems for now at least, for the right bottles, demand is set to out-pace whatever the market throws at it.
Bottle images courtesy of Scotch Whisky Auctions and Whiskyauctioneer.
With the absence of an auction watch last week we’re a little behind the times; however, it’s well worth reviewing the April Scotch Whisky Auctions sale. There were indeed some good results, however, certain bottles took a notable step back in value.
From a positive perspective, Brora performed well with two out of the three 1982 vintage Connoisseurs Choice bottles setting new records. £300 took the 1982/2000 which was £70 in 2010, £310 took the 1982/2006 which was £80 in 2011 and £300 took the 1982/2008 just £30 off its record high. The official 2008 release, 25 year old, hit £720 exceeding its previous best by £40. More recent official releases took a dip into the red with the 2010 30 year old selling for £540 (down from its £700 high in January this year) and the 2012 35 year old fetching £720, down from £800. The 1977 21 year old Rare Malts bottle achieved £720, yielding an exceptional 454% increase over its 2010 price of £130.
Glenugie put in another strong show with two bottles achieving new records – A 1977 33 year old from Signatory sold for £360, more than doubling its 2013 price of £170. Again, more than doubling its 2013 price of £150, a bottle of Dun Bheagan 30 year old Glenugie sold for £310.
One of the bottles from cask 1590, a 1973 27 year old Ladyburn sold for £920. Ladyburn hasn’t been the best performing silent distillery over recent years but I suspect renewed interest and revised retail pricing may well move values up over the coming months. This bottle sold for £210 in 2008.
Among the highs and lows were also some signs of continued volatility for certain brands. Older vintage bottles of Glenlivet (mainly the old G&M releases) have been increasing at a consistent rate over the past couple of years, however, the younger official bottles have languished or at best been ‘spiky’ in their sale prices. Two identical bottles of Glenlivet Quercus (a single cask 17 year old) sold at this particular auction – one sold for £220 and the other sold for just £90. With the replacement of Glenlivet 12 year old by the no-age Founders Reserve in certain territories I wonder how the secondary market will react? If I were a betting man, I would wager the older (mainly G&M bottled) vintage releases will still see upside but distillery bottles will continue to slide or remain static at best.
Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix rallied up to £250 per bottle recently but was back to £165. Over-supply didn’t look like the issue either with only five bottles at the auction. The Glenfiddich ‘2012’ Millennium vintage also took a significant turn south; March saw two bottles sell for £80 – this month it was back to £35 (less than its original retail price).
The Macallan Masters of Photography series bore witness to further continued erosion of prices as both ‘The Bar’ and ‘The Library’ by Annie Leibovitz hit new lows and the Albert Watson 20 year old sold for just £740. The previous record for The Library was £2,300 in 2013 resulting in a two year loss of 43.5%. Albert Watson has been far more stable, having a 2013 price of £800 and yielding a 7.5% two year loss.
Certain other bottles of Macallan were far more buoyant. The older vintage 18 year olds were selling towards or slightly above their recent trading range; the 1976 hit £640 and the 1979 sold for £560. Neither were new records, but they were very close seconds. The 1951 ‘Matured Only in Sherry Wood’ (not the 1951 Fine & Rare, although you could be forgiven for thinking it is) was back up to peak Q3 2014 levels when one sold for £8,200. £8,600 is the record for this bottle and it was selling for £1,600 – £1,700 in 2011. The 1979 Gran Reserva pulled back recent losses when two bottles sold for £1,100 and £1,200; not quite a record (that being £1,300) but very respectable prices none the less.
An auction of some volatility with the ever-increasing volume of bottles being seen at auction. Maybe this is something we’ll see on a more regular basis?
Fake 1979 18 year old Macallan Gran Reserva Alert.
Awful as they are, fake bottles of high quality/valuable Scotch whisky are destined to become more prolific as supply on the open market increases… and this one’s a classic – it’s Macallan and it’s relatively high value…. The perfect forgers target.
While there’s no disputing this one’s fake, they’re still quite difficult to pick out unless there’s a genuine bottle available for comparison. So here’s the main and most visibly instant reasons why this one’s a fugazi –
– The gold border on the label is far too wide, the genuine label has a far finer border.
– The gold border (and other detailing) is poorly printed ‘gold’ rather than the bright bronze-powder gold which Macallan used. As with the border, the gold detailing etc on the fake has a really dull lustre to it whereas a genuine bottle is bright. Apparently the genuine labels were a real challenge to produce because of the specialised type of granulated bronze powder paint used.
– The texture of the fake label is too flat (and too white). The genuine article has a laid-paper label where you can pick up clear vertical ribbing/ridges in the high quality paper used.
– The general colours aren’t as vibrant as with an original bottle. The reds in particular are ‘flatter’ than a genuine bottle.
– The rear label has the same issues (gold border is all wrong) and Easter Elchies House looks almost olive green on the fake where it should be cream on an original.
Accepting photo’s can be challenging from many perspectives, all told, this one just looks wrong, that’s what drew my attention to it.
What’s in it? Probably 10 or 12 year old Macallan… maybe much worse! Who knows… Definitely NOT almost a thousand pounds worth of one of the best Macallans ever released, that’s a certainty.
I’ve recently benefited from having physically held one of these fakes alongside the genuine article and the contrast is stark by comparison. That also means this occurrence is not simply a rouge bottle, nor are these fakes solely isolated to the 1979 vintage, other vintages of Gran Reserva are affected too (the one I examined recently was a 1980 vintage). This bottle sold for £960 which is more or less current open market value – collectors and drinkers are being duped by these awful things.
I spoke to the auctioneer about this and (being wholly supportive in trying to combat fakes) they immediately agreed to cancel the deal and refund the buyer. I do suspect the bottle will be sent back to the vendor rather than being destroyed, hence trying to raise awareness in spotting the duds. I only hope the vendor destroys it and takes another fake out of the market.
Here are some detailed shots of real bottles from a reference perspective.
Don’t be duped… Fight those fakes.
Cutting to the heart of the Scotch Whisky industry.