Andy Simpson

Weekly Auction Watch by Andy Simpson – October 17, 2014

Weekly Auction Watch 17.10.14

Patience is usually rewarded… One of the main rules of buying (and selling) rare whisky as a collectable or an investment is patience. When a new release hits the market and sells out in double quick time we usually see what’s called the new release curve. This shows how the first one or two bottles of a new release usually achieve eye watering prices then gradually settle back to a more balanced level for that particular bottle. From a sellers perspective, getting that first bottle away can be lucrative, from a buyers perspective it’s usually far from it.

The recent Ardbeg Kildalton Project bottling demonstrates this trend/model perfectly. The chart below shows average values for the bottle on a week by week basis.

kildalton project chart

The results speak for themselves.

Topping out at a heady weekly average of £460 soon after release, the bottle has now more than halved in value as supply escalates pushing prices back to just over £200. The curve looks to be easing in its decline which suggests we may be near the bottom of the curve. Should Ardbeg more generally release this bottle (as was suggested in the original press release) rather than have it as a distillery exclusive we may see further falls before any recovery.

The reason for featuring this bottle is that the lowest price seen to date was achieved at the recent Scotch Whisky Auction sale. As is usually the case, it wasn’t doom and gloom for many values… far from it.

Karuizawa prices must be mentioned first. I’m not going to run through the new records (pretty much every bottle sold was a new high) individually but I would expect to see a significant increase in the Rare Whisky Karuizawa Index (RWKI) at the end of the month.

Other highlights included –

  • The first release of Balvenie Rose performed exceptionally well when it sold for £1,050. In 2012 this sold for £240 and its low-point was just £126 in 2009.
  • William Grants stable-mate, Glenfiddich saw the 1974 vintage ‘Rare Collection’ break the £1,000 barrier for the first time when the hammer finally fell on £1,450.
  • Highland Park saw a good result with its bi-centenary ‘Repatriation’ which sold for £440.
  • Yet again, the limelight belonged to bottles from silent stills.
  • In 2011 just £80 was paid for a Duncan Taylor bottled, 1981 22 year old Brora. £380 was the new record for this bottle.

Not quite the same level of increase as Brora but Glen Albyn values are pushing north at an accelerating pace. A bottle of Connoisseurs Choice 1974 vintage sold for £165. £85 was the 2011 price for this bottle.

St Magdalene had a solid set of results for the small number of bottles to feature. A bottle of the 1975 vintage (dumpy bottle) Connoisseurs Choice went for £330 and a bottle of ‘Rare & Old’, also on a ’75 vintage and also by Gordon & MacPhail hit £440. The Royal Mile Whiskies exclusive dumpy Connoisseurs Choice bottle was selling for £80 in 2009.

Until recently, Littlemill values have been almost static. As they say, a rising tide floats all boats and prices are now starting to move up for this previously overlooked silent distillery. A bottle of the 1964 vintage (dumpy green bottle) sold for £470. £170 was its lowest all-time value.

As we rapidly move through the final quarter of 2014 whisky values still look relatively buoyant. It will be interesting to see if some of the recent significant increases can be cemented in these final months of the year.

Until next week.