Auction sales of aged Scotch whisky took a leap in 2017 and experts expect more bottles to arrive on the market this year.

  • Single malt Scotch whisky auction sales topped £25 million in the UK in 2017

  • Swedish enthusiast starts new investment fund

  • Elsewhere, Yamazaki 50 year old Japanese whisky sells for HK$2.3 million

Sales of single malt Scotch whisky at auction reached £25.06 million in the UK alone in 2017, up by 76% on 2016.

The figures were published in a report by Rare Whisky 101, a valuation, brokerage and consultancy service for collectors. In 2013, equivalent single malt Scotch sales in the UK were £4.5 million, it said.

The growth is more evidence that rare whiskies have emerged as an alternative investment proposition, alongside top wines.

Sales in 2017 rose by 42.47% in volume terms versus 2016, reaching 83,713 bottles and giving an average price per bottle of nearly £300.

‘The volume of bottles on the open market is at record highs, but demand for the right bottles, for now at least, continues to exceed these record levels of supply,’ said Andy Simpson, who co-founded Rare Whisky 101 with David Robertson.

As we have seen for DRC or Bordeaux first growths, demand is also international.

‘We are experiencing increasing demand from almost all parts of the globe,’ said 101’s Robertson. ‘South East Asia remains a key factor for the market.’

In Europe, one Swedish enthusiast, Christian Svantesson, has set up a Single Malt Fund that will be supervised by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.

‘Scheduled to liquidate after six years, the Fund offers a target return rate of 10% per annum,’ it said in a statement.

It isn’t just Scotch that appears to be on collectors’ minds.

Sotheby’s recently sold a single bottle of Yamazaki 50 year old Japanese whisky at auction in Hong Kong for HK$2.3 million (US$298,879), making it one of the most expensive Japanese whiskies in the world and ‘illustrating a whisky market in full swing’, according to Paul Wong, a Sotheby’s wine specialist in Asia.