Record sales for Scotch at UK auctions in 2018

8th February, 2019 by Amy Hopkins

More than 100,000 bottles of rare single malt Scotch were sold in UK auctions last year – a record high that demonstrates growing interest in whisky investments.

Bowmore topped RW101’s investment ranking for 2018

According to figures released by consultancy and brokerage Rare Whisky 101 (RW101), the volume and value of rare Scotch sold through UK auction houses reached record figures.

In total, 107,890 bottles of single malt Scotch were sold at auction in the UK in 2018, a 29% increase on 2017. The value of bottles sold rose by 63% to £40.7 million (US$52.7m).

The average bottle price rose 26% to a record £377.91 (US$490), while the number of bottles that fetched £10,000 (US$13,000) or more increased by a massive 191% to 265.

In November last year, the only bottle of 1926 Macallan featuring a hand-painted design by Irish artist Michael Dillon became the world’s most expensive whisky after fetching £1.2m at Christie’s in London. It is the only standard-sized bottle of whisky to sell for more than £1m (US$1.3m)  to date.

RW101’s index for rare whisky, called the Apex Index, which tracks the best performing 1,000 bottles of rare whisky, was up 30% by the end of 2018, outperforming commodities such as fine wine and gold.

Bowmore became the number one distillery in RW101’s ranking of the most investible whiskies, knocking Macallan off the top spot.

According to David Robertson, co-founder of RW101, demand for rare whiskies will remain strong, but Brexit may hamper access to bottles.

“While demand for rare and vintage whisky shows no signs of slowing, the fundamentals of investing in the rare whisky market remains strong,” he said.

“The UK auction market remains the biggest and most active market worldwide, and there’s nothing to suggest that will change. As consumption continues to increase, driven by connoisseurs, collectors and investors, the stocks of rare whisky will continue to diminish, creating the ideal conditions for escalating hammer prices.

“However, with the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over us, it is extremely difficult to second guess what will happen with cross border trade and access to bottles. From both a volume and value perspective, 2019 is very difficult to predict.”

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