Bottles of rare malt whisky fetching higher prices at auction

Bottles of rare malt whisky now fetch £286 on average at auction as the market continues to grow.

Gemma Walker of The Wheatsheaf in Falkirk with rare bottle of Rosebank whisky. Picture: Michael Gillen

Between April and June this year, 21,617 bottles were sold at auction worth almost £6.2 million, figures from whisky experts Rare Whisky 101 showed.

The popularity of Scotch in the US and Asia has led the large drive in prices, with just £2.8 million spent on rare whisky in the same three months in 2016.

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Rare Whisky 101 analyst and co-founder Andy Simpson said: “Any question as to whether the recent increases in the rare whisky market would begin to plateau can, for now, be summarily dismissed.

“Even we wondered whether the market could continue to expand at such levels following another record-breaking year in 2016.

“The performance of Scotch malt whisky at auction over the past three months has been nothing short of phenomenal.

“The growing popularity of online auctions, combined with recent moves by traditional rare whisky retailers to set up their own auction sites, continues to drive demand.

“By joining the secondary market sector, these ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers have finally realised that they can’t afford to lose rare whisky customers to the auction market.

“Anecdotally, we have seen growing demand from North America and Asia over recent times.

“We have also experienced a dramatic increase in enquiries from Asian and US professional buyers looking to set up new supply agreements to capitalise on this dynamically-growing market.”

Scotch whisky has enjoyed a profitable year. In April, it was announced exports have risen by 4 per cent in a year to more than £4 billion, marking a return to growth for the sector.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) 2016 export report found overseas sales of Scotch whisky rose by £153 million from 2015 to £4,008,927,149 last year.

The number of bottles dispatched increased by 4.8% between 2015 and 2016 to more than 1.2 billion, meaning almost 39 bottles worth a total of £127 were exported per second.

Both the value and volume of Scotch exports returned to positive annual growth rates for the first time since 2011.