The Whiskystats Portrait of Port Ellen

9. July 2019 | 2.6K Views

Legendary Port Ellen accounts for some of the most sought after whiskies of all time. In this article, we take a closer look at the secondary market track record of this iconic Islay distillery. Here is our market portrait of Port Ellen! 

When it comes to true whisky collecting favourites, Port Ellen is among the top-ranked brands there are. Closed down in 1983, some of its releases set the early trends and were the key drivers of the market as we know it today. While there are plenty of resources out there which will tell you everything you need to know about the history and top-rated releases, we are focusing on the performance of Port Ellen on the auction market we observe.
In our ever-growing whisky database we currently find 10.680 price observations belonging to 787 different Port Ellen bottlings. In the below chart we visualized the monthly number of trades as well as the three-month moving average and median price since January 2015.
Port Ellen Median Price
Since late 2016 the number of traded Port Ellens lies constantly between 100 and 200 bottles each month. On the other side, we see that the prices seem to have increased quite significantly. In early 2015 a Port Ellen release traded for around 700 Euros on average. Fifty per cent of the trades (including all bottle types and sizes) were below 500 Euros. In early 2019 the average price per bottle increased to almost 1.300 Euros. But we also observed periods in which prices stabilized or decreased slightly like throughout 2016 until late 2017 and in 2018

The Market Performance

As mean and median prices depend on which releases were actually traded, we tend to look at our own market indices. These indices describe the monthly gains or losses in value of the then historically most traded bottles. We start off by comparing our Port Ellen distillery index to the Islay region index and our overall Whiskystats Whisky Index.
Port Ellen vs. the Market
Apparently, Port Ellen used to be the key driver of our Islay region index as the respective indices strongly correlate until the mid of 2018. This is of course of no surprise since Port Ellen is the most collectable Islay whisky brand. However, it seems like things have changed in 2018 since our Islay index performed extraordinarily while Port Ellen was not able to keep up the pace. In our Price Update for May 2019 we already identified Ardbeg and Bowmore as the key drivers of this movements.
Silent Distilleries
In the above visualization, we compared the major silent distilleries on the secondary whisky market. Here we see that Port Ellen releases experienced very stable value gains from 2013 all the way until mid of 2016. The same was true for Brora and Rosebank. While the most traded Rosebank releases then continued this growth and even increased the index gains, both Brora and Port Ellen lost ground. This meant that Rosebank even overtook Karuizawa and Macallan in our distillery ranking, while Port Ellen is currently fighting to stay within the Top 10.
Port Ellen Independent vs. Original Bottlings
At last, we also compare the market performance of original and independent Port Ellen bottlings. Quite interestingly the independent bottlings experienced far more stable value gains while some of the original bottlings dramatically gained and lost in value within short periods of time. Nevertheless, over the past six years, both the most traded original and independent bottlings gained more than 250% in value.

The Average Port Ellen

Here is a little fun fact. The average Port Ellen release traded on auctions was distilled in 1980 and bottled in 2005 (and is consequently 25 years-old). It also contains 54,9% of alcohol and 3.350 bottles were released without any cask or batch information stated on the label. Funny enough, we do not find any real releases that would match this “average Port Ellen”. However, our Whisky Pricing Machine suggests that such a release would be worth around 1.500 Euros at the moment.

Annual Releases

When we talk about Port Ellen, we of course also need to mention the Annual Releases issued by Diageo. You find all of the 17 releases in our database. The currently most expensive one is the 16th release. It traded for almost 2.800 Euros in May 2019. The release with the highest increase in value is release number 8. It once traded for as little as 275 Euros. In early 2019 prices are rapidly approaching the 2.000 Euro threshold.
Port Ellen 8th Annual Release
The whole set of Port Ellen Annual Releases would currently cost you around 35.000 Euros if you would buy it bottle by bottle on auctions. In total the Annual Releases gained more than 100% while we can observe them on auctions. The cheapest (standard bottle sized) one is currently the 2nd release which traded for 1.500 Euros in May 2019.

The Standout Releases

Finally, we want to point out some specific Port Ellen releases which experienced quite interesting price movements. Here we want to start with those bottles which realized the highest gains in value on the secondary market. Two of them belong to the Annual Release range mentioned above. The 6th Annual Release once traded for 300 Euros and now sells for more than 1.600 Euros. The 200 ml version of the 7th Release increased from 80 Euros to now 500 Euros. For the overall highest gain in value realized on auctions accounts the Port Ellen 21yo (1982) Old Malt Cask bottled by Douglas Laing. 150 Euros in July 2011 and 1.100 Euros in September 2018 equal a 630% increase in value over seven years.
Port Ellen 21yo The Old Malt Cask
Among the currently most expensive Port Ellen bottlings we find the Port Ellen 10yo (1981) Samaroli. It was in October 2018 when this whisky was sold for little more than 10.000 Euros on WhiskyAuctioneer.com. Also not particularly cheap is the Port Ellen 15yo (1969) bottled by Gordon & MacPhail. In February 2018 one of these bottles achieved 14.500 Euros, but only recently, in March 2019, prices dropped to 7.000 Euros. Similar is true for the Port Ellen 12yo bottled by James MacArthur. In the first half of 2018 prices went as high as 16.000 Euros but now dropped back to 10.000 Euros.
Port Ellen 10yo Samaroli
Since the original distillery was closed, the future Port Ellens that are yet to be released are bound to get older and older. At the moment, the Port Ellen 2018 Release, which was distilled in 1978 and bottled in 2018 is the oldest Port Ellen in our database. It only recently appeared on the auction platforms we track and trades for around 6.000 Euros. With 37 years of maturation, the 16th and 17th Annual Release belong to the second oldest releases, together with the 241 bottles of Port Ellen 37yo (1979) issued by Goren´s Whisky Distillery Ltd. So it won´t be very long until the first Port Ellen 40+yo appears on the market.