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Rare Whisky Makes A Strong Recovery, Set For Record Year

The rare whisky market for 2021 is set to break all previous records, following a strong first six months of the year, according to new figures recently published by whisky analyst, broker and investment experts Rare Whisky 101.

The first half of 2021 saw nearly 85,000 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky traded on the secondary market with a value of more than £36 million.

Based on that current rate of growth, Rare Whisky 101 experts predict the full year for 2021 to reach 172,500 of bottles traded, an increase of 20% on 2019’s record (143,895 bottles) with a value of £75 million, an increase of nearly 30% on 2019’s record (£57,707,707).

Thanks to Covid-19 and a succession of lockdowns, trading in the rare whisky market was vastly subdued in 2020. The overall number of recorded bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK in 2020 decreased slightly by 3.37% to 139,044 (2019 = 143,895), while the recorded value decreased by 7.47% to £53,395,201 (2019 = £57,707,707).

The Macallan The Red Collection
The Macallan The Red Collection (image via The Macallan)

However, Rare Whisky 101 experts explained, the market experienced a classic V shaped recovery following the easing of the first lockdown in the UK.

November and December 2020 were record breaking months from a volume perspective with both months seeing more than 16,000 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold at auction in the UK for the first time (previous record April 2019 was 15,830). Figures for May 2021 again raised the bar, with 16,858 sold.

The average per-bottle price declined by 2.55% from £401.04 in 2019 to £390.81 in 2020 and has quickly re-bounded to £426.58 as of June 30, 2021 – a new record.

After two years of relatively flat growth, Rare Whisky 101’s broadest measurement of the market, the Apex1000 Index, closed the half-year 2021 up 9.06% with a full-year estimate of 17.5% growth in investment values.

On the Index, Springbank retained its #1 position from an investor’s perspective. However, The Macallan slipped 17 places to number 28.

So how does investing in rare whisky compare to, say, the gold market? Over an 18 month extended period, the Apex1000 Index fractionally edged ahead of gold by 0.03%, regaining its number one spot in Rare Whisky 101’s alternative asset rankings.

Over an extended six and a half years, since the end of 2014, Scotch whisky’s performance achieved 225% growth compared to 50% growth for gold.

Whisky investment analyst and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, Andy Simpson, said that after an inevitable dip in volume supply following the double impact of Covid-19 and Brexit, the secondary market for rare whisky is set to smash all records.

“In our view, the pandemic has shown us that physical assets, such as whisky, have become ever more popular,” Simpson said in a prepared statement. “When combined with a growing global consumer thirst for single malt which shows no signs of slowing, we see no reason why prices will not continue to rise for the right bottles.”

However, Simpson noted that there are some watch-outs for collectors and investors. “There are still some high value re-fills and fakes creeping into the market, so constant vigilance is required.”

For investors, Rare Whisky 101 has tracked plenty of movement up and down the rankings. Simpson said The Macallan is an interesting case in point.

“The brand has further extended market share over the past year, but investment values have slipped. In part, we believe that the sheer volume of non age-stated releases may have confused the market, potentially leading collectors and investors to seek out other brands. However, it’s worth noting that the recent Macallan Red collection is a great example of where the brand works very well, leveraging the value of its aged stocks.”

Their data also provides some useful insights for collectors, as well as brand owners. From a price perspective, popularity is increasing in the more affordable sub-£1,000 segment, Simpson explained. “Yet this price-point isn’t particularly well served by brand owners who have been focused on releasing the ‘most expensive’ or ‘oldest’ to attract high net worth buyers. We sense a genuine uplift in the number of collectors who are prepared to pay premium prices but not £20,000+ for a 50 year old.”

Andy Simpson and David Robertson launched Rare Whisky 101 in 2014 with the aim of offering a whisky valuation service, brokerage and consultancy for whisky connoisseurs, collectors and investors.

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