In the whisky auction world, flipping is the activity of buying rare bottles to auction them quickly for profit. Whilst many readers will already be skilled practitioners of flipping, many whisky drinkers and producers find this dispiriting. A number of factors are involved in making flipping successful, such as acquiring and selling the retail bottles without too much expense (travel costs, postage, etc.) and selling in a market not oversupplied with the same release. Typically, obvious targets for flipping can appear in great numbers and drag down the price over the first few months, although many will outgrow this over the longer term.
The Ardbeg Perpetuum Bicentenary Committee Release reached £490 in April at Whisky-Online Auctions, but when 19 bottles were sold in Scotch Whisky Auction’s 49th auction, they clustered around £270 – £310. 30 bottles appeared a month later and made £240 – £250 whilst McTear’s, Glasgow sold one for £180 in late April. Highland Park Odin similarly sold out quickly. After costing £180 originally, both Whisky Auctioneer and Whisky-Online Auctions posted prices of £380. Scotch Whisky Auctions sold 51 bottles throughout their 48th – 50th auctions, though bidding peaked at £360 in April, £350 in May, and £250 in June. Clearly, it pays to get in quick.
May was a hectic month of live auctions. Taylor’s, Montrose kicked off in style with £1,600 for The Macallan 25 Years Old Anniversary Malt distilled in 1965. The Hart Davis Hart sale in Chicago offered some comparative bargains: All three editions of Black Bowmore 1964 fetched $4,800/£3,000 (1st edition) and $4,500/£2,850 (2nd and final edition), prices that were very much in the favour of the buyers.
To Hong Kong, where Sotheby’s only had three whiskies to sell, but they were all incredible bottles: Bottle No. 1 of The Last Drop 50 Years Old sold for charity for HK$70,000/£5,830, The Macallan 50 Years Old in Lalique made HK$240,000/ £20,000 and Glenfiddich 50 Years Old took HK$110,000/£9,160. On the same day, Bonhams, Hong Kong had much more whisky on offer resulting in the highest grossing live auction of the month on the WMI. Japanese brands dominated proceedings, with the 2009 bottling of Karuizawa 1967 Cask 6426 taking HK$150,000/£12,500 with The Whisky Exchange 10th anniversary label from this cask making HK$120,000/£10,000. The Yamazaki 50 Years Old made a notable HK$250,000/£20,800. This auction featured some of the oldest Lalique bottlings of The Macallan including the 62 Years Old, 60 Years Old, and 57 Years Old which all hit HK$250,000/£20,800 whilst the 55 Years Old settled for HK$240,000/£20,000.
Mulberry Bank Auctions had numerous unsold lots though they reappeared for sale on their online platform, hoping to reach a wider audience. Only one WMI eligible bottle reached four figures, an £1,800 Fortnum & Mason bottling of Highland Park 27 Years Old. Hopefully, sales will pick up in August, as these results will not go unnoticed by potential vendors.
Acker Merrall & Condit held fine wine auctions in New York and Hong Kong. The American sale contained a sprinkling of Van Winkle bottlings with $4,000/£2,550 purchasing a lot of 12 bottles of Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Years Old Special Reserve. However, US prices appear to be stabilising, softening even, though European prices are still growing online.
What effect did all this trading have on the WMI rankings? Yamazaki secured 13th, a new personal best, whilst Hanyu occupied a top ten slot above Springbank. Karuizawa outsold The Macallan at Bonhams again and closed the gap further on first place, the closest it’s got this year. Rosebank dropped out as trading in Isle of Jura at Taylor’s, Montrose brought them back into the top 25.
Did you know?
Scotch Whisky Auctions celebrated their 50th online whisky auction, and made a £16,400 contribution to Scottish charity Himalayan Initiatives to help the victims of the Nepal earthquake. The 7.8 magnitude quake struck Kathmandu on the 25 April 2015, killing nearly 9,000 people. The Springbank Millennium Collection complete with miniatures attracted the highest bids, selling for £5,200. There were bottles of The Macallan Easter Elchies 2008 – 2013 releases which drew £1,250 for the 2009 and £1,200 for the 2008 bottles. A bottle of Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix made £220, and the Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Years Old Sandy Gordon sold for £250. 30 lots were sold, with the company topping up the proceeds with their 10% buyer’s fees. Well done to all involved!