It’s common nowadays for limited whisky releases to rise greatly in price on the secondary market. Famed distilleries release a bottling, buyers’ buy up as many as they can, and then immediately put them up for sale, featuring shiny, new, highly inflated price tags. With the high demand for rare whisky growing across the globe, it can be quite a profitable business as each month, said price tags continue to rise at auctions and secondary marketplaces. Most recently, a limited Scotch whisky release sold for not one, not two, but ten times its original retail price, and only 12 days after it was released.
The Macallan distillery made headlines a few weeks prior, when the announcement of their new Macallan Genesis release, for sale at the distillery, sent collectors and buyers into a frenzy. The Macallan Genesis was released on August 14th, and that same morning a road near the distillery had to be shut down by police. This was due to a serious traffic jam caused by over 300 whisky enthusiasts rushing to purchase a bottle of the new, limited, 2,500-bottle release. The Genesis was first up for sale at the distillery and will also be available at some Macallan Airport Boutique stores. The road was closed, the police managed the scene, people got angry on Twitter, but all in all, the situation was managed and many succeeded in getting the bottle they so desperately wanted. Sadly, however, the Macallan Genesis was up for sale on the secondary market just hours later, priced much higher than the original $640 release price.
Now, just 2 weeks later, several bottles of the Macallan Genesis have sold on an auction held by the UK’s whisky auctioneer, Whisky Hammer, for almost 10 times the original price tag, with a few bottles selling for $6,200. Five bottles of the Macallan release in total were part of the auction house’s most recent lot, and each sold for over $6,000. While this isn’t the first sale to show the world that the whisky market and whisky collecting is showing rapid growth, it is one of the cases showcasing it so clearly. ‘Whisky prices continue to rise in general amongst the reputable distilleries, with Macallan certainly no exception,’ Daniel Milne, the co-founder of Whisky Hammer, tells me concerning recent whisky auctions. ‘With such a special, limited release such as Genesis, it came as no surprise to us that the bottles attracted significant attention from our global audience of whisky buyers.’ While most bottles take years to appreciate significantly in value, this bottle rose tenfold, right after release. The Macallan seems to have started their previously announced $15 million marketing campaign, as their ads and promotions recently feature heavily on YouTube. The brand is on the news more than most distilleries, always making headlines on astronomical Macallan bottle sales at auctions.
Yet, even for the Macallan, such a steep rise in price after such a short period of time is quite a shock, especially since there are thousands of bottles available and the expressions can still be bought at the original price in certain airport stores. High prices for limited single cask bottlings, of around 200-300 bottles, are understandable. This, however, takes the whisky-flipping business to a new level, making forums light up, real fans complain, and drinkers sigh. Seeing the profits that can be made is pushing more and more into the secondary whisky-selling business, taking bottles away from real fans; at least at affordable prices.
After these auction results, it would be interesting to see how many bottles of the Macallan Genesis will actually be opened and enjoyed. At $6,000 a bottle, even the most loyal fans will have a hard time twisting open the cap. It looks like this movement will continue to grow, but remember- Whisky was always meant to be bought, opened, enjoyed, and shared. It’s what the distiller wants, and what the industry is about. As with everything, balance is key. Drink a little, collect a little, but most of all, share and enjoy the whisky world. It’s a great place.