Updated: Apr 30
INSIDER INFO ON BUYING SCOTCH WHISKEY
Whether you’re an auction aficionado or a novice partaker, there is always something to learn when it comes to Scotch whisky auctions. This guide will steer you through the need-to-know and do’s and don’ts of these events from budgets to expectations and insider tips and tricks.
Learn About the Scotch Whisky Category
There are several ways to research the Scotch whisky category. You could read around or do some online training, but the best way is to try before you buy. Whisky tasting sets, sometimes called whisky flights, offer the chance to sample whiskies that would cost a lot more by the bottle. You can either buy a flight to try in your own time or attend either a live or prerecorded masterclass alongside it to guide you through the tasting process.
Another option is to purchase miniatures. You’ll tend to find them selling for less than £100 when the full-sized version would be significantly more. They are easier to store and can be very collectable. In 2019 a record was broken when an anonymous bidder paid £4,000 for a glass bottle of Scotch measuring a mere four inches tall.
Make a Plan Before you Go.
As with all any auction, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment. To keep your wits about you, carefully consider your purchases beforehand. Do you want to buy to sell for a profit, to collect or simply to experience a delicious drink?
If You’re Buying to Sell: Do Your Research.
Picking the right gap in the market is a significant factor. It may prove helpful if you spend some time googling and going onto online forums, Facebook groups or attending virtual festivals and events to see what’s doing well at the moment and the most sought-after drinks. Scarcity drives up prices, so you’ll have a much higher chance of taking home a nice profit if there are fewer of the same bottle on auction at any one time. See what’s available at other auctions too, and think about whether your bottle offers a standout uniqueness to the whole market. Chances are, you’ll make a profit if it does. If you’ve managed to get your hands on that coveted limited edition bottle, chances are that selling, or ‘flipping’, that bottle will pay off nicely.
If You’re Buying to Collect: Keep your Eye on the Prize.
Ensure you know which bottle (or case) you’re after before you engage in the auction. It can prove very costly if you go for a whisky presented spontaneously, as there’ll be a reason it’s being marketed that way — generally to earn more than it’s worth. You can also research the previous amounts that whisky has sold for, you don’t want to be going in blind and paying far more than you could be. Remember, unlike wine, whisky doesn’t change once it’s bottled, so it doesn’t matter when you drink it, so if you know what you like, buying by the case might work out to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Choose the Right Auction
There are so many whisky auction websites out there. If you’re after a special bottle, you’ll want a more specialised auction site. You have a greater chance of finding a niche range of whiskies the more selective a site is, so its best to have a little search around if you have a coveted bottle in mind. For example, if you’re looking for a Speyside single malt, it’s worth having a look around at some of Speyside-based websites or auctions.
Your budget is the biggest variant, as it really depends on what you’re after. You can pick up a popular whisky from a £20 bid, but if you’re after a rare bottle to invest in then you’ll need big bucks, single bottles can go up to £20,000. These investments can make huge payoffs, though. Pick the right bottle, keep it in immaculate condition and you could pay off your mortgage a few years down the line — as long as you pounce at the right time in the market!
Remember to Read the Fine Print
Another vital thing to remember is the commissions. Whether selling or buying, you don’t want to be feeling proud after completing the purchase of your prized bottle only for that feeling to sink when you discover a 25% fee has been added on, so make sure to factor this in when bidding. A top tip is to look out for little incentives that sites often offer at certain times. From reduced buyers’ fees, no insertion fees for sellers and free reserves on sellers’ lots, you can find a nice little deal to help sweeten the deal. These don’t come around very often though, so make sure you look around first and see when sites are offering this. Always check the T’s&C’s too — as you may find some sneaky fees and delivery costs creeping in there too. You don’t want to pick up a bargain to then pay equal amounts of packing and shipping, so again, it’s all in the homework.