We do Bourbons (and some Rye)

7. December 2018 | 3.9K Views

We finally reach across the big pond as we now start tracking secondary market prices for Bourbon whiskeys. The number of trades is steadily increasing while prices not always did. Here is our introduction of Bourbons (and some Rye)! 

When we analyse the secondary market for Bourbon whiskeys we of course have to keep in mind that all the auctioneers we currently track are based in Europe. So in fact this is an analysis of the european market´s take on the United States whiskeys. However, when it comes to trading rare and collectable whiskies the european market, and especially UK, are most dominant (with Asia catching up steadily). Furthermore, many collectors around the globe rely on european auctioneers as no local auctioneer is available or supplies such a big range.

Growing Market

From January 2011 to November 2018 we observed 18.449 U.S. whiskeys traded on the auction houses we track. Out of this, 16.635 were Bourbons and 1.814 are Ryes. In below graph we visualize the number of trades per month since 2011.
Number of Bourbon & Rye Trades
Obviously the number of traded U.S. whiskeys is steadily increasing. It was only back in 2014 were we started to observe more than 100 bottles traded each month on a regular basis. In late 2016 this number climbed above 400 for the first time. In the last month´s round of auctions we even observed more than 600 bottles traded. Sure, compared to scotch single malts, where we observe thousands of trades each month, this number is comparably humble, but it is increasing significantly nevertheless!
Bourbon & Rye Trading Volumne
Same is, of course, true for the total trading volume per month. Since 2017 the sum of all prices paid each month for U.S. whiskey consistently lies beyond 100.000 Euros. In some months the total worth of traded bottles even exceeded the 175.000 Euros threshold.

Major Brands

So what are the major brands when it comes to U.S. whiskey? Our approach to answer this question is to have a look at the number of bottles that were traded. So in below visualization we show you those ten brands for which we observed the most prices. In total we currently list 112 different United States whiskey brands in our database.
Most Traded Bourbon Brands
By far the most trades are observed for Jack Daniel´s. Around 2.200 auctioned bottles equal a 12% market share when it comes to U.S. whiskeys traded on auctions. On the places there follow Four Roses, Wild Turkey and Pappy Van Winkle. When it comes to the infamous Van Winkle whiskey one has to note that we treat Van Winkle, Pappy van Winkle and Old Rip Van Winkle separately in this analysis.

Outstanding Bottles

Van Winkle is also the brand that dominates the list of the most outstanding Bourbon bottlings. To start with we take a look at the most expensive Bourbons we observed. The Van Winkle 18yo Special Reserve Binny´s tops this list as it sold for 12.400 Euros March 2016. This makes it the currently most expensive Bourbon in our whisky database. Back in 2014 this bottle was available for less than 1.000 Euros.
Van Winkle 18yo Binny´s
Also quite expensive is the Willet 19yo (1990) Cask 8552 bottling. It was traded just in October 2018 for 12.000 Euros. Other examples for high trading United States whiskies are the Willet 24yo (1984) Cask 14 and the Heaven Hill 16yo (1994) Release 1.1.
We now turn our attention to the most traded American whiskies in our database. With more than 300 price observations the Pappy Van Winkle 20yo Family Reserve was traded more often than any other Bourbon or Rye. First prices come form early 2014 when this whisky was sold for around 450 Euros. Then prices climbed pretty fast and are now standing at around 1.500 Euros per bottle.
Pappy Van Winkle 20yo Family Reserve
The second most traded Bourbon we track is the Pappy Van Winkle 15yo Family Reserve which currently trades for around 1.000 Euros. Surprisingly the third most trade Bourbon is the Pappy Van Winkle 23yo Family Reserve for which the market asks for 2.000 Euros. With 249 trades we finally find a non Van Winkle Bourbon on place four. For the W.L. Weller 12yo we find 249 price observations which currently settle in at a modest 100 Euros.
Finally we want to find out which of these Bourbons and Ryes experienced the highest increase in value. Back in the year of 2011, so no more than 9 years ago, the highest bidding price for the Old Weller Original 107 Proof was 44 Euros. In October 2018 the winning bid for this Bourbon whisky was 864 Euros. This equals a 1860% increase in value.
Old Weller Original 107 Proof
Another strong value gainer is the A.H. Hirsch 16yo (1974) Reserve. Once available for less than 100 Euros the highest price observations flown as high as 1.900 Euros. Also the Old Rip Van Winkle 12yo Old Time Rye gained value significantly. The 1.200 Euros from September 2017 equal a 1100% increase in value compared to the 100 Euros from October 2011.

Bourbon Index

To summarize the price development for all the Bourbons we have in our database we of course use our proven method of calculating an index. This means that each month we are determining what the historically 100 most traded Bourbons were and then calculate their change in value. These monthly changes in value then define our index movements.
Bourbon Index by November 2018
We see that from 2014 an onward, when the number of traded Bourbons started to increase (see above), our Bourbon index steadily climbed. Until mid of 2016 it reached an index value of around 140. In this two and half-year period our Bourbon index gained more than 70%. However, from there onward we observe steadily decreasing index values. By late 2018 our Bourbon index stays at around 105 points. We already know that especially from 2016 and onward more and more Bourbons appeared on the market. Quite obviously some of the most traded of those bottles are not very sought after by the secondary market.
You now find all the Bourbons we currently track in our whisky database. Simply add them to your personal collections to keep track of their price development.