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The Auctioneer’s Hammer

Online auctions are on board
We’re delighted to announce that Whisky Hammer and Whisky Auctioneer auctions are now being included in the WMI. These data add to the rich spread of whisky auctions monitored around the world, which creates the WMI rankings of the brands. Whisky Hammer is the youngest specialist auction house in the UK and its location in Aberdeenshire means it is convenient for those working around Speyside to drop off limited edition bottles. Whisky Auctioneer in Perth has risen to prominence through its user-friendly website and a penchant for pulling off spectacular single-issue auctions such as Strathearn’s inaugural bottlings and the recent Karuizawa sale. This latter event saw Whisky Auctioneer dispatch the second most expensive standard-sized bottle of whisky of all time, the Karuizawa 1960 52 Years Old ‘The Archer’ for £100,100.

As more online auctions are incorporated into the WMI, we may see the index rise and new names appearing in the top tier. Already, two American brands have broken into the top 25: Parker’s Heritage Collection created by Parker Beam who passed away in January 2017, and George T Stagg, part of the annual Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Watch out, because other American whiskeys are coming up fast behind them. 



Auction Watch



Collecting Compass Box whiskies is now officially big news; their bottlings have been excelling at auction these past few months. The only surprise is how long it has taken for the demand in their back catalogue to translate into sufficient gains to encourage people to sell their collections. Given the incredible lengths that John Glaser goes to to put together his blends, the energy he devotes to every release, and the evocative artwork on the cartons and labels, it may be difficult for the Compass Box loyal to part with their treasures. 

The turning point was the appearance of Compass Box The General at Scotch Whisky Auction’s 70th auction where it romped up to £1,550. Three bottles of the blend released at the end of 2013 followed in the 72nd auction, netting up to £1,250. By the time of the 73rd auction, over supply saw the bottles peak at £960. Good auction tip there; when a new record price is set, don’t rush in and sell your bottle immediately in the aftermath as the battle that pushed up the price has already been won. The winner is unlikely to be a potential buyer of your bottle as well. Elsewhere, prices have jumped for Compass Box Hedonism Maximus (up to £640), Compass Box The Last Vatted Malt (up to £680), The Last Vatted Grain (up to £560), Compass Box Lady Luck (up to £500), and Compass Box The Double Single 10th Anniversary (up to £380). Compass Box The Circus, last year’s blended Scotch whisky release, shares some similarities with The General comprising parcels of older blended grain and blended single malts. From an original retail price of £190, it is already trading at £300 and it may not stay that low for long. Together with an eclectic catalogue of early releases, limited bottlings for bars, stores, and whisky shows, plus their anniversary bottlings, it has become one of the collectable brands of the year. 

Glenfarclas is another favourite collectable that is enjoying an impressive surge in value at auction. The first release in the Glenfarclas Collector’s Series, the 1966 Fino Casks is regularly breaking past £1,000 at auction. Three sets of Glenfarclas 175th Anniversary Chairman’s Reserve made £640 a piece at Scotch Whisky Auctions. Compared with a Family Cask bottling of Glenfarclas from the 1960s, it’s still a small price to pay for a vatting from four sherry casks distilled in 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1969 with a combined age of 175 years. It’s not all rising however, as the value of the Glenfarclas 1953 58 Years Old Wealth Solutions bottle has been pegged back to £3,800 after once achieving prices well in excess of £5,000. Some you win, some you lose.  



Did You Know?



Highland Park debuted two new limited expressions called Valkyrie and Full Volume at Whisky Live London in March. Later that month, they unveiled an exciting redesign of the core range, drawing inspiration from the Urnes Stave Church in Ornes, Norway. These are now tagged as Viking Scars, Viking Honour, and Viking Pride. This raises the question for collectors about the growing value of older packaging variants. A boxed example of the dumpy bottle of Highland Park 12 Years Old in good condition can fetch up to £200, and the attractive Highland Park 18 Years Old cartons featuring the Rings of Brodgar can sell for £150-200, in contrast with the auction prices paid for the retiring amulet packaging. This is a welcome development for drinkers and collectors alike. 

Forthcoming auctions