The Whiskystats Annual Report of 2020
There is no question that 2020 was a very special year. In our annual report, we take a look back at the year that was on the whisky auction market. Is the overall growth still intact? Which market segments performed best? Here is the Whiskystats Annual Report of 2020!
To start with we want to address the most urgent question right away: did the global pandemic affect the whisky auction market? And the answer is yes, it did. One of the biggest online auctioneers was out of service for a couple of months due to the restrictions. This of course had an effect on the number of bottles being traded in 2020. But the market did not plunge, not at all. After a small dip in spring prices continued to increase, for some segments quite significantly, and for others not so much.
Please note that we started to track the results of Whisky.Auction in spring 2020. Since we thereby processed all historical results too, some figures will not match the results of our previous annual reports.
First, we want to take a look at the overall growth of the market. For this, we simply count the number of price observations we made on all the auction platforms we track. With around 175 thousand bottles 2020 surpassed 2019 only just. And although this figure keeps on climbing, the growth slowed down, and quite significantly so. But the reason for this is obvious. As mentioned above, ScotchWhiskyAuctions.com paused its service due to the Covid-restrictions. On top of that WhiskyAuctioneer.com also suspended some of their auctions due to technical issues. Without those extraordinary circumstances, we suppose 190 thousand bottles could have been in reach.
Next we turn our attention to the money spent on auctions. For this, we convert all prices to Euros using the historic exchange rates and include the buyer fees, but exclude shipping costs and the like. And although there were more bottles traded in 2020 than in 2019, the total trading volume fell from 75 million Euros to 72.5 million Euros. The average price paid per bottle was 415 Euros, which is, of course, less than the 437 Euros from 2019. But the median price increased to 151 Euros. This simply means that 50% of all bottles being auctioned did so for less than 151 Euros.
But the average and median prices are not the most useful tools to measure the price changes because they strongly depend on which bottles were traded. That is why we use our Whiskystats Indices which track the actual changes in value of the respective bottles.
Major Market Indices
We regularly keep you updated about the movements of our major market indices in the Whiskystats Monthly Updates. For this annual report, we now focus solely on the movements in 2020. To do so, we simply norm the index values to 100 in January 2020 and hence can directly compare the different indices. The Whiskystats Whisky Index (WWI), which is driven by the 500 historically most traded whiskies each month, saw an annual increase of almost 25% last year. This is even more impressive when considering that in 2019, the WWI only gained a humble 1,2% in total!
On the other side, our Fabulous Fifty (Fab50) collection gained 12,5% too. This hand-selected ensemble of prestigious single malts is now worth almost 130 thousand Euros, more than ever before. Out of these fifty bottles, there is only one for which we did not observe at least one trade, and hence a price update, in 2020. This is the Glenfarclas 46yo (1954) which was last seen on auctions back in November 2019, when it sold for 1.000 Euros.
We repeat the same index comparison for the major whisky regions we differ. Similar to the two major market indices above, the year was off to a good start but we then observed a dip in spring. Any doubts were wiped away immediately though, and with the exception of the Lowlands, all of our region indices gained severely. Topping all others is Campbeltown, which naturally was mainly driven by the Springbank distillery, as we shall see later. Our Campbeltown index gained no less than 35% last year.
The only other region that comes close to this is Islay, with a plus of 27%. On the places follow Speyside (+21%), the Highlands (+19%), and the Islands (+15%). Last year’s number one whisky region was Japan, as our Japan index gained 22% in 2019. It now looks like the price rally for Japanese whisky takes a little break. But still, an annual increase of 8% also meant that this index arrived at a new all-time peak. The Lowlands gained strongly from March to June but gave away a lot of ground in the remainder of the year.
By looking at the index movements of the top single malt distilleries, we basically drill down the above region indices. Hence, it is of no big surprise that it is the Springbank distillery that accounts for one of the most impressive performances of 2020. A plus of almost 30% brought Springbank three places up the ladder and straight into the Top 15. Another strong performer of 2020 was Glenfarclas. The index of this Speyside distillery gained no less than 23%. Glendronach, Macallan, Port Ellen, and Ardbeg all increased by around 20% too.
On the downside we find Bowmore and Hanyu. Both these distillery indices share a similar story in the sense that they are currently consolidating after huge gains in the past. After a two-year rally in which our Bowmore index almost doubled it reached its peak in June 2018 but lost more than 20% since. For Hanyu, we observed the drastic price jumps from May to October 2019, which catapulted the index 45% north to 417 index points. So although the 2020 performances seem poor, putting them into perspective to those huge gains in the past clarifies a lot.
At last, we would also like to mention that 2020 was a great year for Whiskystats. We counted more than 3000 new members in 2020 alone and the number of daily visitors even doubled over the past twelve months. And the future looks bright too as there are many new projects we are currently working on, so stay tuned!