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Rare whisky market exceeds £25m in UK alone

The UK’s rare whisky market reached record levels in 2017, surpassing £25 million (US$34.7m) ­– an increase of 76.33% compared to the previous year.

Rare Whisky 101 co-founders Andy Simpson and David Robertson

According to rare whisky index, valuation and brokerage firm Rare Whisky 101’s (RW101) annual report published today (9 February), single malt Scotch sold at UK auctions hit £25.06m last year, significantly more than 2016’s £14.21m.

Over 12 months, the number of bottles of single malt sold at auction in the UK increased by 42.47% to 83,713, up from 58,758 the previous year.

RW101’s Rare Whisky Apex 1000 Index closed at 27.51% in 2017, with both the volume and value of rare Scotch whisky sold at auction increasing by “record amounts”.

December 2017 alone saw 8,848 bottles of Scotch sold at UK auctions; 25,123 bottles were sold during the final quarter of 2017.

The most expensive bottle to sell at auction in the UK was a bottle of 62-year-old Dalmore (one of 12 originally released) for £95,000 (US$131k).

The Macallan retained its position as the most collectible Scotch whisky, as well as the most heavily traded, accounting for 12.71% of the market for all bottles sold and 28.9% of the total value.

The Edrington-owned brand also grabbed the top spot in RW101’s Investors’ Index, which had been held by Brora since 2014.

Amid announcements that closed distilleries, Port Ellen, Brora and Rosebank are to re-open, RW101 said values for official bottles of the three distilleries flattened with each index experiencing its “worst” annual performance in five years at +5.59%, +7.31% and +0.48% respectively.

Andy Simpson, director and co-founder of RW101, said: “We were fully expecting to break £20 million for the first time. However, £25 million shows the level of pure demand in the market at the moment. The volume of bottles on the open market is at record highs, but demand for the right bottles, for now at least, continues to excess these record levels of supply.

“The growing importance, almost dominance, of the UK’s auction market, which is the largest in the world, will continue to be underpinned by the rapidly increasing number of rare whisky retailers running auctions in parallel to their traditional retail business.

“The rare whisky acquisition landscape has changed forever as the consumer, rather than the retailer, now decides what price they will pay for a bottle of rare and collectable whisky.”

Co-founder of RW101, David Robertson, is keeping his eyes on the “dynamic economies” and “burgeoning middle classes” of mainland China and India.

He added: “Neither have got to the starting blocks yet, let alone begun to try and win the rare whisky acquisition race. When, and indeed, if they do, we’re expecting demand to hit levels unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

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