The Rare Whisky 101 – Whiskystats Face-Off
Some numbers and figures may not match what you find in the Whiskystats 2.0 database.
It is about time to determine the position of our whisky database. That is why we hereby compare our data to those of Rare Whisky 101, another quantitative observer of the secondary whisky market. Simultaneaously, this is a round-up of the year 2015.
Every year, Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) publishes an annual report on their observations of the secondary whisky market. As we found no other way to have a look inside their data, we use the results of this report to compare the RW101- with our (public accessible) Whiskystats Whisky Database. For this purpose, we simply followed their approach and made the same analysis using our data.
Note that after a free-of-charge registration you can access the historic prices of all the whiskies in our database. You can also track the value of your collection and use our Toolbox to analyse the market.
We start off with an attempt to compare the key figures of the two databases behind RW101 and Whiskystats. As far as we know, RW101 focuses solely on the UK whisky market. We couldn’t figure out how many bottles RW101 is tracking, but a sitenote in their indices overview states that they have something around 110.000 price informations from various UK-based auctioneers. At the moment, we at Whiskystats source our prices from two online auctioneers. These are WhiskyAuction.com and ScotchWhiskyAuctions.com. In total, the Whiskystats Whisky Database covers 16.355 different whiskies with corresponding 183.338 price observations. As new price observations drop in, this figures are about to increase every month.
Volume and Value Growth
RW101 reports an all-time high in the supply of collectable single malt Scotch at UK auctions of 43.458 bottles in 2015. In the same period, we observed 38.499 trades of Scotch and another 3.024 trades of japanese whisky. Compared to 2014, this is an increase of 27.83% for RW101 and 15% for Whiskystats. In total, Whiskystats observed trades worth 14.237.277 EUR in 2015 which is a cracking 60% increase compared to 2014. The corresponding figures from RW101 are 9.560.000 GBP which corresponds to a 25% increase.
When looking at the months in which the most trades were observed, we have to keep in mind a small shift in dating. If an auction takes place at the beginning of a month but most of the auction window belongs to the previous month, we at Whiskystats asign these observations to the previous month. Therefore, it is of no surprise that while RW101 reports the month of December to see the most trades, for us at Whiskystats this is November. In December 2015 RW101 observed 4.888 bottles sold on the open market which is 19% more than in December 2014. December 2014 and 2015 are also the two months for which they observed the most trades. To some surprise, the Whiskystats top months are March 2015 (4.359), November 2015 (4.004) and November 2014 (3.907). As an indication for the increasing amount of supply, RW101 states that they observed in the entire year of 2009 a little more than 4.000 trades. Following that, we found 12.000 trades of 2009 in our Whisystats database.
Whisky Market Indices
To compare the secondary whisky market with other investment opportunities, RW101 uses their Whisky Apex 1000 Index. Obviously, this index consists of the 1000 top performing bottles of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. In 2015, this index climbed by 14.36%. This increase is slightly lower than the 15.82% of 2014.
To summarize the whole secondary market, we at Whiskystats use our Whiskystats Whisky Index (WWI). This index simply consists of the 300 most traded whiskies in our database. For 2015, we observed a growth of 16,7% and for 2014 17,7%.
Port Ellen Index
In the recent RW101 Annual Report, the Port Ellen distillery is declared as “Scotch’s most significant gainer through 2015”. The corresponding index climbed by 23.15%. What has to be kept in mind is that the RWPE (Rare Whisky Port Ellen) index only consists of the first eight official release from the distillery. For comparison, the Whiskystats Port Ellen Index consists of the 100 most traded whiskies that were distilled by Port Ellen (Original Bottlings and Independent Bottlings alike). In total, our Port Ellen index includes 2.547 price observations. In 2015, this index climbed by 15.7%.
By the way, the Whiskystats “Scotch’s most significant gainer”-distillery was Glendronach. The Glendronach Index climbed by 34% in 2015. On the places follow Auchroisk and Glenury Royal. In this Whiskystats “Scotch-only” distillery ranking of 2015, Port Ellen takes the 7th place (find a monthly updated all-time distillery ranking here). If we remove the “Scotland-only” restriction, the first five places are taken by japanese distilleries. Both, the Miyagikyo and Karuizawa index climbed by 49% in 2015 and therefor share the first place.
Driven by the endless discussion around NAS (No Age Statement) whisky, RW101 presents some statistics of Age Statement and Vintage bottlings. First off is a comparison of the average prices paid for age statement. The age statements under investigation are 21yo (years old), 25yo, 30yo, 40yo and 50yo. The corresponding average prices from RW101 are 195 GBP, 369 GBP, 720 GBP, 998 GBP and 3.646 GBP. We simply follow this approach but use our own price observations.
We see a comparable pattern. With respect of the 21yo, the RW101 prices are significantly higher than ours though. Seems like they cover more of the ultra rare ultra expensive bottles. For your information, in the above analysis we included 995, 820, 623, 230 and 51 different whiskies for the respective age categories (21yo to 50yo).
In a comparable fashion as above, we now move the attention to the Vintage. For this purpose, RW101 looks at the average prices of all 1920’s, 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s vintage bottlings. As our Whiskystats database only covers one single 1920’s bottling, we do not consider this decade. For the 1930’s and onwards the RW101 average prices are 1.756 GBP, 3.119 GBP, 1.430 GBP, 701 GBP, 384 GBP and 375 GBP. Again, we follow this approach with our own data.
In contrast to RW101, we see a price pattern that one would might expect. The average price per (vintage) bottle is decreasing as the distilling year increases. Again, RW101 observes the higher prices. For the above Whiskystats prices we took the average over 30, 55, 252, 2059, 4789 and 5334 different whiskies.
The RW101 Investors Index ranks the distilleries based on the increase in value for all covered bottles (including some adjustments for highest average prices and overall highest prices). On top of this (again Scotland-only) list are Brora, Dalmore, Balvenie, Port Ellen and Killyloch. We at Whiskystats have a similar distillery ranking. This ranking is based on the change in value of the 100 most traded bottles of each distillery and updated on a monthly basis (learn more on our indices here). Note that the Movement- and Change-figures in the following listing correspond to the changes between November and December 2015.
What we see is that on top of both rankings is Brora. Beside that, only Brora, Port Ellen and Macallan make it to the top 10 of both listings. This is quiet interesting indeed and motivates a comparison of UK and other secondary whisky markets!
In the last section of their annual report, RW101 has a closer look at their Karuizawa index. They saw the peak of this index in September 2015 and a corresponding increase from December 2014 to September 2015 of 74,92%. Since then, the index dropped by 6,29%. The Whiskystats Karuizawa index reached its peak in June 2015. From December 2014 to June 2015, the included 100 most traded Karuizawa whiskies gained 62,98%. Following that came a setback of 8.4%. Hence, we observed quiet similar market movements there.
So what is the resumé of this database comparison? The overall observed market patterns are pretty similar. Prices increase with higher age statements and older vintages. It seems like that at the moment RW101 is tracking more of the ultra rare and ultra expensive whiskies. An important point is that RW101 solely focuses on the UK secondary whisky market while Whiskystats also covers other markets. However, the biggest difference is obviously that the Whiskystats database is open to every Whiskystats-Member, so you are just one sign-up away from exploring the secondary whisky market on your own.