Smashing Record Prices!

Over the past few years the prices of whisky at auction have risen quite dramatically. Here at Whisky Online we tend to get record prices for the oldest, rarest and most desirable bottles on the market. We also source whiskies that aren’t found in any other auctions so the prices for these can often be quite remarkable, a good example being the Laphroaig 1967 Samaroli which fetched £5700 in our March sale last year.

The way the prices have change though has been quite fascinating and the shifting buying patterns behind it are quite telling. We aren’t usually surprised when bottles such as the Macallan 1928 50 year old or the Springbank 1919 fetch world record prices of £20,100 and £27,200 respectively; these bottles are now virtually impossible to find and will always attract premium price tags. These two bottles remain the highest prices paid for any bottles in online auctions and the highest prices for bottles in the UK last year and this year so far.



What Influences Buyers?

portWhat is more interesting is in the mid-upper ranges of an auction, how people’s spending patterns are affecting prices. Ten years ago the driving force behind a bottle’s value was mostly down to the contents of the bottle; the quality of the whisky drove the price. This is still a major factor today and can be seen at its most potent with bottles such as the James MacArthur Port Ellen 12 year old from a couple of months ago which fetched £8200, the highest price ever paid for a Port Ellen at auction.

There are new factors influencing bidding now though. In recent years the notion of whisky as an investment has started to be more explicitly explored and written about. This has in turn brought new money to the secondary whisky market, buyers who buy purely from an investment perspective and not always with the most knowledge or from the angle of a drinker. This has been partially responsible for the upsurge in prices for whiskies like Macallan and many other official distillery releases, closed distilleries and of course Karuizawa.

collectors, drinkers or investors.

The old idea of whisky just being bought by collectors or drinkers or investors is fading to a murky mix of all three. The majority of people who buy now do so with a curious mix of intentions and will often buy without much of an idea of what they’ll ultimately do with a bottle. Another influence of new buying patterns is the ‘new collector’. These are buyers who have become interested in whisky in recent years and will collect largely newer releases and more modern bottlings. These enthusiasts came to whisky largely after the end of the age of innocence with its old bottles and old prices. They have been responsible for the sharp rise in bottles such as Arran as a collectable whisky and many other new releases that have since proven deeply popular on the secondary market. Bowmore Devils Cask being a good example.

 Biggest Success stories

Perhaps one of the biggest success stories at auction in recent years though has been Karuizawa. This is the perfect storm of terrific whisky, beautifully packaged, from a closed distillery, always in limited quantities and always fairly priced upon release. Almost all Karuizawas fetch great prices these days but in our last auction the 1967 hit a new record of £8000 and the 1964 for Wealth Solutions achieved an impressive £17,600 which is the highest price paid for a Karuizawa outside Hong Kong.


For the moment prices looks set to remain strong, certainly for the right bottles. And while the market continues to diversify, if we’ve learned one thing over the past few years of auctioneering, its that the right bottle – left to run freely in our auction – will always fetch an impressive price. Just look at two Bowmores from last years sales, the 1955 ceramic visitor centre bottling which fetched £4600 and the 1964 one of only 99 bottles for Oddbins which hit £6600. Both bottles that hadn’t seen auction for a long time when they arrived with us and both smashed their upper estimates and hit new world records. The perfect storm of incredible whisky, real rarity and massive hunger for these bottles on the market always delivers top prices.



JUNE AUCTION NOW LIVE! View our Auction Highlights

Welcome to our June auction. This month we’ve managed to put together quite a remarkable auction with some real gems that rarely ever see the light of day.


The undoubted auction highlights – and our personal favourites – have to be the two super old Laphroaigs. A 14 year old bottled circa 1950 and a 10 year old rotation 1969, both Carlton imports, both 91.4 US proof and both absolutely beautiful and historic old examples of Islay single malt. These kinds of bottles find their way to the auction market so rarely that their appearance here is a real one off chance to acquire such legendary liquid.

There’s plenty more heavy hitters in this sale as well though. The Glen Grant 1952 60 year old bottled by G&M for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 makes a debut appearance with us. This is matched by the Glenfarclas 1953 58 Year Old for Wealth Solutions, one of the best Glenfarclas we’ve ever tasted and now a very hard to find bottle. We have editions 2 and 3 of Black Bowmore. The 1981 Port Ellen Feis Ile single cask. A wonderful selection of some very hard to find Karuizawas, including the 1970 – 2012 cask 6227 and the 1981 – 2012 cask 158 of which only 45 bottles were ever produced.

Johnnie Walker fans will be pleased to see both the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Director’s Blends up for grabs this month, these bottles see auction so rarely that this is a great chance to plug a hole in your set or kick start a collection of your own. Rare Malts fans will also be delighted at the selection of bottlings in this month’s sale, with a few obscure and hard to find strength variations amongst them. We’ve got two of the 1976 – 2002 Ardbeg cask 2390, the first Brora 30 year old 2002 release along with a lovely selection of other Broras and Port Ellens including the very scarce 1977 SMWS 43.4. We have a MacPhail’s 1950 33 year old, a beautiful Martel Cordon Bleu Baccarat crystal decanter from the early 1970s and a 1973 Bowmore bottled exclusively for the Morrison Bowmore 50th anniversary dinner that is very hard to find.

This month sees a heavy lean towards older Islay Malts with old vintage Bowmores from the 1960s, old Laphroaigs, White Horse Lagavulins, a Sherriff’s Bowmore, plenty old Ardbegs and – of course – the post Feis Ile plethora of his years Islay Festival bottlings; including the brilliant Laphroaig Cairdeas and 1991 Lagavulin. At the cheaper end of the sale there is the usual selection of budget drinkers, old obscure bottlings and tasty old official malts or blends that will lend intrigue and delight to any drinks cabinet.

On top of that we have an unusually large selection of wine in this month’s sale. Featuring many lovely and highly drinkable examples mainly from Italy, Australia, France and a few from South Africa; why not treat yourself to something delicious to have with the BBQ this summer. Or a case of 1977 Sandeman’s Vintage Port?

Whatever your tastes you’re bound to find something in this sale. So enjoy sifting through and happy bidding.

All the best

The Whisky Online Auctions team