Top 10 most collectable Scotch whiskies
While Scottish distillers are investing heavily in increasing stocks of Scotch whisky, there’s continued soaring interest in historical and vintage expressions on the second-hand market.
Some rare expressions of single malt Scotch can fetch as much as £381,620 at auction, the most expensive being a six-litre decanter of The Macallan M at Sothebys in Hong Kong in January this year.
In just five years, the value of the top 1,000 collectable single malt whiskies has grown by almost 216%, according to the Rare Whisky 101 index (RW101), launched by David Robertson and Andy Simpson last month.
A bottle of The Macallan Royal Marriage, which launched in 2011 for £150, is now worth around £900.
Despite such a potentially high return on investment, Simpson claims awareness of whisky as an investment is “still pretty small”.
“Usually an investor falls in love with a distillery and its whisky to taste then they start wanting to collect bottles,” he says. “Then they realise the whisky is rising in value. They turn that passion for drinking in to a passion for investing.
“Supply is also constantly being consumed rendering the remaining bottles that little bit rarer and that little bit more valuable. The global demand and thirst for rare single malt Scotch is also increasing. So you almost have that perfect scenario where supply is constantly dwindling but demand is increasing. These simple economic dynamics are pushing prices higher for the right bottles.”
Here are the 10 most collectable Scotch whiskies, according to RW101, along with how much the price of each has risen in the past five years to date.
10. The Glenlivet
The Chivas Brothers-owned distillery in Speyside is one of the largest in Scotland but also has a revered history dating back to the times of bootlegging in the hills. The single malt is close to selling one million cases per year, making it the second-largest in the world. A bottle of The Glenlivet 70 Year Old, bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, went for US$15,000 at a Bonhams Edinburgh auction in 2011.
Value rise since 2008: 329%
Dalmore has a reputation as being one of the most aspirational Scotch whisky brands in the world. The bulk of its portfolio is now priced above £100, with the pinnacle of its Constellation Collection, The Dalmore 1964, going for £20,000. As an investable item though, The Dalmore has been known to return up to 200% of its original value.
Value rise since 2008: 159%
Glenfiddich may be the largest-selling single malt Scotch whisky in the world, but it is also one of the most valuable. In 2012 its Janet Sheed Roberts expression, of which just 11 bottles were produced, became the world’s most expensive sold at auction, reaching US$94,000 (£59,335).
Value rise since 2008: 195%
The Skye distillery, owned by Diageo, regularly releases a rare expression into the group’s annual Special Releases collection, the most recent bein a bottle of Talisker 27-year-old, which has a market price of £475. However, limited edition and rare expressions of Talisker can reach up to £2,000 at auction.
Value rise since 2008: 212%
William Grant’s Speyside single malt recently released two single cask 50-year-old whiskies, both with price tags of £26,500. However its the distillery’s releases around the £100 mark that sparked most interest among collectors, with its Tun 1401 expressions consistently appearing on auction websites. A bottle of Tun 1401 Batch 1, which originally sold for £100, can now fetch £1,400 at auction.
Value rise since 2008: 283%
Diageo’s mothballed distillery, which closed in 1983, is one of the most investable Scotch whiskies, if you can find a bottle. The group’s recently released Brora 40-year-old is the group’s most expensive Scotch whisky to date at £6,995. On the second-hand market, a bottle of Brora 35 Year Old, released in 2012 for £400, already fetches £280 more at auction.
Value rise since 2008: 356%
The Islay distillery owned by Suntory regularly creates limited edition releases which subsequently appear on the secondary market at inflated prices. Such expressions include The Queen’s Visit, Keizo Saji’s Cask and most recently, the coveted Devil’s Casks.
Value rise since 2008: 311%
3. Port Ellen
Diageo’s second mothballed distillery to appear on this list produced what has now become some of the most coveted whisky of all time. Perhaps the arrest, and now most valuable release was the 2008 Port Ellen Feis Ile, created to celebrate the Islay Festival. Originally priced at £99 a bottle, it now fetches £2,500 at auction. Just 220 bottles were released.
Value rise since 2008: 352%
Another distillery that regularly releases limited editions is Islay’s Ardbeg, whose expressions can fetch up to £7,200 at auction. Notable expressions now winging their way around the secondary market include 1970s single cask releases, Ardbeg Galileo and Ardbeg Auriverdes.
Value rise since 2008: 281%
1. The Macallan
The Macallan is arguably the most aspirational single malt Scotch whisky brand in the world, making it the most highly collectable as well. While all limited edition bottlings from The Macallan are highly sought after, Gran Reserva, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982 are also key investment items, increasing in value from around £350 in 2010 to £700-900 in 2013, according to Whisky Auctioneer. Prior to the sale of The Macallan M, the distillery already held the title of most expensive whisky sold at auction, with US$460,000 raised for charity from the sale of The Macallan 64-year-old in Lalique Cire Perdue.
Value rise since 2008: 513%