03 Oct 2018
Prices go up, and they go down. But in the case of a rare bottle of Macallan whisky sold at auction, the trajectory has only been upwards.
A bottle of 60-year-old single malt from the distillery in the heart of Scotland’s Spey valley broke a world record - selling for £848,000 at Bonhams Edinburgh. This was 4% higher than a similar bottle from the same maker sold in May, the last record breaker.
But could the world’s most expensive dram actually be a sign the spirit has gone out of the market for rare vintage whisky? With a price slightly lower than had initially been predicted, could the bidder have actually bagged a bargain?
The devil is in the data.
Competitor Monitor found an index for comparison. The Rare Whisky 101 Vintage 50 Index – which tracks prices achieved on some of the world’s oldest, rarest bottles of Scotch ever released – rose 5.6% in the three months to 24 September. In comparison the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 price only grew 4% in a similar time period. Not only this, but bottle price fell short of its pre-auction estimate of £900,000.
At these prices it may not matter so much. Perhaps the whisky having sold for just over £50,000 less than the estimate is what enthusiasts might call the “angels’ share” – which usually refers to the spirit lost as it ages in the barrel.
Only 24 bottles of the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 were produced. Bottled in 1986, they were adorned with labels specially commissioned by the pop artists, Sir Peter Blake and Valerio Adami.
It is not known how many of them still exist. One is said to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan in 2011. It is thought that at least one of them has been opened and drunk.
Retail trends show that thirst for single malt whisky has been almost unquenchable. The same index shows that over the last ten years, the value of the rarest drams has risen an eyewatering 583%.
According to this market intelligence, Competitor Monitor believes the seller – who was thought to have snapped the whisky up from the distillery 1994 – will likely have made a small fortune. And the buyer, who would have been aware of how the market has grown, can celebrate having bought at a good price.
But the question remains - with a wee dram of the stuff being worth more than £35,000, how will the new owner celebrate?
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