The Whiskystats Annual Report of 2016 (I/II)
The secondary whisky market year of 2016 was record-breaking in many ways. Never before did we observe so many trades. Never before was the volume of cash involved higher. This is the first part of the Whiskystats round-up of the year that was.
Since we recently added the latest auction results from December to our database, we can now have a look at the complete results of the year 2016. Please note that as we track the prices from two auction houses, the following results are based on a subset of the whole secondary whisky market only. But as these two auction houses are fairly big and primarily serve two different markets (UK and Central Europe), the share of the market that we cover should be sufficiently high to generalize the results to some degree. Also be aware that Whiskystats solely focuses on scotch and japanese single malt whiskies!
The Market Keeps on Growing
The most obvious key figure of the 2016 auctions is of course the sheer number of bottles that were traded. In the last 12 months we observed the prices of an astonishing 51.382 bottles of single malt whisky that changed their owner. In case you wonder that this figure does not match the sum of our Monthly Summaries, notice that there we only count those prices which belong to whiskies that are displayed in our database, i.e. which have more than two price observations in total. Compared to the year of 2015, with 41.354 bottles traded, this is an increase of 24,2%. In 2006, which is the first full calendar year from which we have price observations, there were only 5.040 trades. Cozy old times…
At Whiskystats we convert all prices to Euros. Consequently we can easily sum-up all those price observations of the last year. This leads to a total trading volume of more than 16,1 Million Euros, which is 13,3% above the 14,2 Million Euros of 2015 and breathtaking 83% above the 8,8 Million Euros from 2014!
Comparing the growth of the secondary market by total number of bottles and trading volume reveals some interesting patterns. While the number of traded bottles increased by 24,4% over the last year, the trading volume in Euros did so by only 13,3%. By looking at the above charts it seems like the year of 2015 saw some very high prices paid for some single bottles of whisky.
2016 in Detail
We now want to have a closer look at the year of 2016. As the market we observe is concentrated mainly on Western Europe, and since Whisky is generally seen as “Winter´s Drink” (please do not quote us on that), it is of no surprise that the market is more active in the colder months (northern hemisphere) of the year. When we look at the number of bottles traded by month, we see that it were especially the months towards the end of 2016 which saw the highest amount of traded single malts. During summer-time the number of traded bottles dropped as far as 2.781 in July, which is only 52% of the 5.389 bottles traded in October. Considering that figure though, one has to keep in mind that in July one of the auction houses we track was on a summer break.
Next thing we want to have a look at is the average price per bottle in each month. It seems like those months with lesser trading volumes also tend to have a smaller average price. It is again the spring and summer months for which we observe the smallest average prices per bottle. During these months, those prices stayed consequently below 300 Euros, while in the other months prices went as high as 371 Euros (November 2016).
If we put together the pieces of information we gathered above, it seems like the secondary whisky market is most active towards the end of the year as well as in January. We also saw the average price is higher when there are more bottles traded. This could have, of course, two reasons. First is the whisky bottles that were sold. Rarer bottlings gain higher results and drive the average price. Secondly it is the number of people who are bidding. The more people bidding, the higher the hammer price will be.
One is tempted to sum up this results into a “Whiskystats Top Tip”: It seems like a wise idea to buy whisky on auctions during the late spring and summer months (if the desired bottles are on sale) and sell during the winter months were the audience is bigger. Just let us hope that not all market participants are reading the Whiskystats-Blog, because otherwise the above patterns will become more extreme in 2017.
In the second part of our annual report we will have a look at some major market movements of 2016. On which distilleries did the focus of the market shifted to? How did the different regions performed over the last 12 months? We will find out for sure!