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Rare whisky value drops 4%

The value of rare whisky in the UK fell by 4% in the year to June 2023 as all other luxury assets increased, according to Knight Frank’s latest report.

Andy Simpson of Rare Whisky 101 highlighted Clynelish as a brand that is performing well

The Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index (KFLII) looked at the performance of collectibles over the past year, including art, watches, jewellery, coins, cars, diamonds, handbags, furniture, wine and whisky.

The whisky data was compiled by Rare Whisky 101, which measured the UK auction price of 100 bottles of rare single malt Scotch.

While rare whisky declined in the past year, the category has grown by 322% over the past decade. In comparison, wine rose by 5% in the 12-month period, and grew by 149% over the past 10 years.

Art, watches and jewellery all experienced double-digit gains in the 12 months to June 2023.

Rare whisky previously topped the KFLII after its value increased by 40% in 2018. Its growth slowed the following year when its value rose by 5%.

“Bottles of rare whisky have had a far more sedate time from a performance perspective over the past three years,” said Andy Simpson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101.

“Higher-value (over £5,000 [US$6,377]) bottles have re-traced recently due to a myriad of geopolitical, social and economic reasons.

“Certain brands have still performed well, while the market leader (from a sheer volume of market perspective), Macallan, has seen particularly punishing losses with its index re-tracing almost 12% over the past 12 months.”

However, Simpson noted that the broader market dropped by 1.5% over the past 12 months, citing the Rare Whisky 101 Apex 1000 Index, which tracks the performance of the top 1,000 most sought-after bottles.

He continued: “So while certain brands and higher-value bottles are having a harder time, the market as a whole is relatively resilient, albeit currently underperforming traditional bank savings rates.”

Top performers: Clynelish and Balvenie

In terms of brands, Simpson said Clynelish was performing well (its index was up by 3.9% in the past 12 months). Meanwhile, Balvenie was the ‘standout’ whisky brand after its index increased by 22% over the same period.

Simpson also said record prices were still being paid for bottles, but not in the hundreds of thousands of pounds price bracket that was seen in 2018 and 2019.

Regarding trends in rare whisky, Simpson said: “From my perspective, the same rules for investing in whisky still apply now as they did 20 years ago. Globally recognised brands, exceptional quality liquid, rare/commemorative limited editions and single cask releases will always be in high demand no matter what the short-term market outlook is.

“I’ve always said Scotch whisky is a medium to long-term investment; so while short-term gains are possible, people should look at a five to 20-year term. I’ve been collecting/investing for almost 35 years now and still continue to try to buy the right bottles at the right prices.”

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