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Rare whisky auction prices fall

The value of fine and rare whisky auctions has declined, although the volume has increased by 10%, according to a report from corporate finance boutique Noble & Co.

whisky warehouse with casks
Noble & Co said the findings show that more people are getting into whisky investment

The report found that the value of bottles sold for more than £1,000 (US$1,263) at auction fell by 7% year on year, although the volume increased to more than 8,500 sales in the year to October.

The Noble & Co Whisky Intelligence Report is produced in conjunction with decision intelligence company Brainnwave. The report comprises more than 3.23 million data points from more than 160,200 transactions over the past 12 months.

Noble & Co said these numbers suggest inflation is impacting investor confidence in the rarest and most expensive whiskies.

Secondary whisky sales of more than £100 (US$126) increased in volume by 17%, although value was flat. In 2022, the value of sales increased by 21%.

Duncan McFadzean, head of food and drink at Noble & Co, said: “It has been a difficult year for fine and rare whisky investors.

“While general interest in the category continues to drive overall volume growth in secondary whisky sales, at the top end investors are more cautious about price and value.

“While the rarest bottles are still breaking records, our analysis shows that even lower-value transactions are susceptible to price sensitivity. We expect this trend to continue into 2024 as weak global economic conditions prevail.”

Earlier this month, a bottle of The Macallan 1926 became the highest-selling spirit or wine at auction after selling for £2,187,500 (US$2,714,250) during a Sotheby’s auction in London.

McFadzean added: “Fine and rare whiskies have enjoyed an almost unblemished reputation for being one of the best-performing alternative investments available. What we now see is a mixed picture, where a growing volume of transactions is accompanied by weakening value per transaction.

“While there will always be stand-out moments, such as the recent 1926 The Macallan sale, the broad picture suggests the market is softening.”

The Noble & Co analysis found that the fastest-growing whisky brands by volume in the secondary market were Tamdhu, The Dalmore and The Glenturret.

The Macallan is the most popular distillery on the secondary market, with more than 26,500 bottles traded in the past 12 months.

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