Rare whisk y
Black Bowmore: A truly iconic special edition series from Bowmore. A bottle of first edition Black Bowmore recently sold at a McTear's in Glasgow for £11,450. When it first came out in the 1990s it was priced around £70. These are becoming as rare as hen's teeth.
Port Ellen Special Release:
Any of the annual Diageo Special Release Port Ellens, they are all exceptional. Port Ellen bottlings are especially sought after due to the fact that Port Ellen distillery closed in 1983.
Brora 40 year old:
An exceedingly rare bottling from another distillery that closed in 1983. Only 160 bottles of the 40 year old Brora were produced. It was the most expensive single malt whisky that Diageo has ever produced, priced at £6995 per bottle.
A Scotch Malt Whisky Society first release bottling:
Any first release from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. In short, each bottle has a number and a number after a decimal point. The first number represents a distillery and the number after the decimal point represents the number of casks the SMWS has purchased from that distillery. A bottle of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society's first ever release, an 8 year old cask strength Glenfarclas (bottle number 1.1) recently sold at auction for £1,800. WWW.SCOTTISHFIELD.CO.UK Sons Diamond Jubilee bottling. Released in 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this blend is made up of single malt and single grain whiskies from 1952, the year of the Queen's accession to the throne. The £120,000 blend was presented in a diamond-shaped Baccarat crystal decanter, with silver collar set with a half-carat diamond. The decanter came with a bespoke cabinet made with oak from Sandringham, pine from Balmoral and inlaid with veneers from various countries of the Commonwealth. It's a very limited edition of only sixty – one to mark each year of the Queen's reign.
The luxury market for whisky is really all about exclusivity and limited edition releases. Just like other ‘super-premium' luxury items, such as watches and sports cars, tradition and craftsmanship are at its heart. The real beauty of luxury whisky, and why it can command high prices, is its scarcity and rarity. If for example, a special edition release, like that of the John Walker & Sons Diamond Jubilee, is limited to 60 bottles, for each year that goes by more bottles will be opened and consumed, thus adding to the rarity as the release nears extinction and its value increases.
An emerging global middle and upper class have certainly played a part in this increase in demand for luxury whisky. Last year exports of whisky increased by 4% to more than £4 billion. Notably, exports of single malt were up by 12%, and are now worth more than £1 billion for the first time. Whisky consumers who have been moving up the social ladder are definitely playing a role in the premiumisation of single malt. It is likely that they previously enjoyed blended whiskies but now that they have increased their social and economic status they are reaching for bottles of single malt instead.
Back in 2002, 47 million bottles of single malt were exported, worth £268m. By 2016, this had increased to 113 million bottles (+143%) with a value of £1.02bn (+281%). Just last year there was a significant boost in exports of single malts to China (up 66% to £12.9m), India (up 31% to £7.2m) and Mexico (up 18% to £9.4m). It is interesting to note that of all whisky exports single malt only makes up 9.6%, in terms of volume. However single malt exports now account for 26% of the value of whisky exported.
Luxury is a very abstract concept but it is in essence about experience. At the end of the day it is about the emotions and feelings that a luxury product evokes. The wonderful thing about whisky is that it appeals to many, which is helping to push the price of Scotland's national drink ever upwards.
The luxury market for whisky is all about exclusivity and limited edition releases
The middle and upper classes are driving the demand for luxury whisky.