Last September, Henry Jeffreys wrote in these very pages about the trend for rare whiskies and how – if you’re thinking about investing in alcohol – they might be a better bet than first-growth clarets. He told us of how whisky writer Ian Buxton ‘told me about visiting the Bowmore distillery on Islay in the 1990s and seeing bottles of Black Bowmore 30-year-old whisky gathering dust and priced at around £100 a bottle. One sold this year at auction for £11,450.’
‘The world’, wrote Jeffreys, ‘has gone whisky mad’. So, bearing that in mind, it will come as little surprise to regular Spectator Money readers that a bottle of very similar second-edition Black Bowmore single malt whisky made a record-breaking £11,900 at auction. Given that the single malt was originally retailed at £80 when it was released in 1993, that’s certainly some profit.
In December, auction house Bonhams declared that 2017 had been their best ever year for whisky, since their first whisky sale in 2008. Online auctions in particular are booming; that record breaking second edition Black Bowmore was sold on the web by Perth based group Whisky Auctioneer, while last year saw Bonhams’ first online-only whisky auction.
The online market can surely only encourage the global market for collectable whiskies – in fact, the Black Bowmore sold most recently was bought by a US investor. On 2 February Bonhams are holding one of their whisky auctions in Hong Kong. One of the bottles being sold – the Dalmore Eos 59-year-old – is one of just 20 bottles ever released. The auction house estimate it will go for between £20,600 and £26,000.
It just goes to show that, as Henry told us, the market for rare whiskies is booming, and it looks set to stay that way.