How to Buy Scotch Whisky at Auction
BOSTON (MainStreet) -- The world's finest bottles of scotch can sell at auction for more than you'd pay in many U.S. cities for a small house.
"A collectible whiskey's value is based on a combination of things -- rarity, desirability and drinkability," says Joseph Hyman, Boston-based whiskey specialist for auction house Bonhams. "Certain distilleries have a higher 'cult following,' so they command higher prices."
|Martin Green, director of whisky for the auction house Bonhams, assesses a bottle of 1955 Glenfiddich that sold for $75,200 at auction this past winter. The bottle is one of just 15 of its kind in existence.|
Bonhams and other auction houses typically hold auctions of super-rare bottles of Scotch whisky a few times a year in New York, London or Hong Kong, garnering close to or more than $100,000 for some of the most valuable offerings.
For instance, Bonhams sold one of just 15 bottles of a 1955 Glenfiddich for $75,200 last winter, while Christie's expects one of only 61 bottles of a 1937 Glenfiddich to fetch as much as $110,000 next month. The most expensive bottle ever sold was apparently a 64-year-old MacCallan that fetched $460,000 in a 2010 Sotheby's(BID) charity auction, although that included a one-of-a-kind decanter.
Hyman says people who bid at whiskey auctions range from collectors to investors to Scotch whisky lovers such as himself.
"When I buy something, I want to drink it," he says. "But other people are just speculating
Auction prices start at around $40 a bottle for modestly valuable whisky -- usually auctioned off in sets of three bottles -- but can approach or even top $100,000 for ultra-valuable offerings. And it's not just age deciding it.
"Older is not necessary better," he says. "I've had whiskeys from the same distillery where a younger one was actually better than an older one."