The rise of luxury spirit sales at auction
“Another day, another record-breaking spirits auction. On Friday 21 May, it was Bonhams’ turn, and some familiar highlights emerged from the auction house’s Wine and Whisky Sale in Hong Kong: a bottle of Macallan Lalique 50 Year Old selling for HK$1.178m; 10 bottles of 30-year-old Karuizawa setting a new high for the closed Japanese distillery’s ‘Samurai’ Series of HK$818,400.
Five years ago, spirits were practically an afterthought for auction houses. Sure, there’d be a few bottles of Macallan or a 19th-century Cognac tucked away at the back of the catalogue, and Bonhams held dedicated Scotch whisky sales in Edinburgh, but that was about it. The market shift since then has been nothing short of dramatic.
Sotheby’s Wine Market Report 2020 is peppered with references to spirits. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti tops the auction house’s producer top 10, but Macallan is second, and Dalmore is fourth. Between them, the pair of single malts had a combined Sotheby’s auction value of almost US$10m in 2020 alone.”