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What is the difference between Whisky and Whiskey ?

Very simply it’s a minor spelling difference indicating country of origin, whisky is from Scotland and Whiskey is from Ireland.

An understanding of buying and selling Whisky

There has been a lot of articles in popular media recently about whisky prices going through the roof and it can be difficult separating some of the media hype from the fact.

It is important to understand how this happened, so we can then understand how to value whisky without all the associated propaganda.

It is true that there is an ever-increasing number of whisky drinkers entering the market and this tends to push up demand for both current release, matured and older versions of whisky.

Also true is that, until the mid-2000’s, nobody ever thought there would be such a massive demand for aged whisky, so only a small number of the forward-thinking distilleries put away tiny stocks to mature slowly over 25,30 and 50 years, not wishing to wait those years for a return on investment.

When demand increased for whisky in general it put pressure on current release prices and distilleries suddenly found an eager market for their aged stock, charging an ever-increasing premium.

This also caused speculators to enter the market and put further upward pressure on the price of old whisky. In 2018, the stock of old whisky is almost depleted, but the demand has not let up and keeps getting stronger.

Subsequently there is a growing trend among distilleries to release stock without age statements, claiming that it gives the producers more leeway in crafting more creative whisky. For just under a decade the same distilleries have been marketing the benefits of aged whisky and now, when the stocks are almost out and it will be many years before the next batch of aged stock is ready, they have reversed tactics and are increasingly silent on the benefits of old whisky.

Buyers who want older whisky to drink are turning to auctions and pushing the price up to astronomical levels in some cases.

The Age difference of whisky, the difference between aged and matured whisky

One very important aspect to understand before bidding at auction is that a bottle of 50 year old whisky is VERY DIFFERENT to a bottle of whisky that was bottled 50 years ago.

Whisky matures in a wooden cask, imparting flavour over the years. The age statement reflects the youngest whisky in the bottle, the minimum of which must be 3 years. However, once bottled, it does not change in character nor does it deteriorate (as long as it has been kept out of direct sunlight).

People are buying older bottlings of whisky because they can have slightly different profiles. Flavours can change over the decades when local sources of water vary in quality, stills need to be replaced, types of cask will vary, and ingredients will all vary slightly each decade. So, a bottle of 12 year old Glenlivet bottled in 1960 will possibly have a different taste to one bottled in 2017 and as such becomes desirable to collectors and speculators alike.

Valuation guidelines

When buying, avoid pricing in a speculators premium, only value it for what you think it is worth based on your own personal tasting experience or from what you have been able to research.

Also bear in mind that when selling your bottles in Australia there is only a very small market compared to overseas and the prices bid will be a fraction that is achieved elsewhere.

Rare and old Whisky

Just because something is aged or is old does not mean it is valuable. Poor quality whisky that has been aged in an old tired barrel will not be better off released at 12 or 50 years of age regardless of the marketing or fancy bottle. Do your research and search online for tasting notes and reviews before committing valuable resources.

Bottles become rare when they are opened by drinkers and not because they are being held in a warehouse in huge quantities by people hoping to make a profit by reselling it.

Whisky speculators

In recent times, as whisky started to gain in popularity, several speculators reasoned that there was a limited supply of aged whisky and started to buy them up. This will pay off for them in the long run as the supply has now dwindled (it doesn’t help that the speculators purchased and stored by the pallet load either). However, this will keep the price up of popular and aged brands for some time to come and current release aged whisky will have a built-in premium factored into the price.

Finding value and price information online

Valuing whisky online can be difficult as there has been minimal consolidation of information online and most of the information is held tightly by small cadres of collectors who, knowing what they prefer, look for bargains at unsuspecting auction houses.

Retail prices should never be used as a guideline for value as they typically add a minimum mark up of 40% to cover costs and much, much more if there has been considerable hype surrounding the bottle in the media. The retail market consists of customers who do not do their research and depend on hearsay to value what they see in store or online.

Any bottle of whisky, wine, cognac, brandy or rum is only worth as much to the person buying it as they feel it is worth and you should NOT be buying for investment unless you know what you are doing and are comfortable with a potential loss.

Where to sell your Whisky collection

You cannot sell bottles of alcohol (even if they are collectible) on eBay or Gumtree unless you have a liquor license.

The best avenue are specialist wine and spirits auction houses, such as Wickman’s, who are licensed to deal in bottles of alcohol and who have large followings of collectors and enthusiasts who look to the website each auction hoping to find something interesting.

Further information if you are responsible for disposal or maintenance of a whisky collection as an asset.

Make an enquiry about selling your whisky bottles at auction.

Steps to selling your whisky bottles at auction

  1. Write a list
  2. Send the list to a reputable whisky expert for valuation
  3. Decide which bottles you wish to sell and which you wish to keep (note that if you decide to change the original list significantly it can impact on the offer you were made)
  4. Arrange the logistics of getting the bottles to auction
  5. Take photos of the collection before packing, sometimes it adds a distinctive touch to the sale and connects you with the buyer and can prove provenance.
  6. Pack your bottles and associated packaging in superior quality containers if you are shipping interstate (packing tips and hints)
  7. Make sure you have provided all necessary documentation regarding provenance when you send the bottles in (include it in the box(es))
  8. You should receive a statement prior to auction listing
  9. When the auction launches social media promotion. helps
  10. When the auction ends you should receive a statement.
  11. Make sure you have provided all your relevant information

List of Highly Traded Whisky at Auction in Australia by Volume

  • Chivas Regal
  • Glenfiddich
  • Glenlivet
  • Japanese Whisky – Suntory, Yamazaki
  • Johnnie Walker Gold
  • Johnnie Walker Green label
  • Macallan
  • Talisker

Recommended Online Resources for whisky tasting and understanding whisky values

What should I do next ?

If you would like to place your whisky at auction, please send an email asking for a no obligation, free valuation of your wine. See the following page for more information about selling your whisky bottles at auction.

 

 

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