Investing in Scotch whisky has grown in popularity over the last ten years, along with the value of whisky collections. Whether you are investing in casks, individual bottles or aiming for collections, whisky has been seen as a safe bet particularly in the context of a global pandemic and there are several success stories that demonstrate just how profitable it can be as an investment.
Yet another example was seen in London on Halloween when an auction of a complete set of The Red Collection from The Macallan proved to be anything but a horror story. Gifted by the distillery to food charity City Harvest London to raise funds for its activities redistributing surplus food to people who need it the most, the collection went for an astonishing £756,400.
That’s great news for the charity and the people who will benefit from it at a crucial time as it will provide almost 2.5 million meals. But it’s also evidence that the appetite is very much there for investing in rare whiskies like these, even during times of financial turbulence around the world, with a collector eventually winning the day in a fierce bidding war from an estimate of just £200,000.
Igor Boyadjian, Managing Director, The Macallan, said: “Global communities are key to The Macallan and as part of our commitment to giving back, we are pleased to have collaborated with Sotheby’s to auction this extremely rare, complete set of The Red Collection, which features our oldest ongoing aged expressions and a selection of high aged guest releases, including the oldest bottlings our brand has ever released.
“This bespoke auction lot has raised an incredible amount of funds for food charity, City Harvest London, with a final sale price of £756,400, which crucially equates to almost 2.5m meals delivered to people in need. This will allow the charity to continue to make a real difference to people’s lives, and we are very supportive of their sustainable vision and efforts to support those most in need.”
Nothing piques the interest of collectors quite like something unique and that’s what The Macallan Red Collection offered as it’s the only set of its kind that you can buy. Inside it were six whiskies: The Macallan 40 Years Old, 50 Years Old, 60 Years Old, 71 Years Old, 74 Years Old and 78 Years Old.
Those are some seriously old bottles of whisky with the 78 Years Old one the oldest ever to have been released by The Macallan and the oldest age statement whisky ever offered at auction. To add to the unique appeal, the bottles all had exclusive labels illustrated and signed by Spanish
artist Javi Aznarez. There are just two of these sets in existence, one in the distillery’s archives and this one.
It was called The Red Collection because the colour red is particularly significant to the distillery, dating back to 1824 and founder Alexander Reid, whose surname means The Red One in Scots. Red was also used in 1903 when owner Roderick Kemp used it to distinguish special cases of The Macallan Choice Old range from regular cases of whisky. In 1980, red ribbons were used to signify the releases of a new range of vintage bottles, so The Red Collection is a proud addition to that history.
As this auction showed, whiskies from the Macallan can be great investments and in 2018, two 1926 Macallan special editions were sold for £2m. However, you still need to be careful and selective when making your investments. Just ask the Chinese investor who persuaded a Swiss hotel owner to open a 140-year-old Macallan single malt that was meant to be worth £265,000, and serve him a fairly expensive wee dram costing £7,810. It then turned out to be a blended whisky that was a mere 45 years old and a lot less expensive.
Even genuine whiskies from the distillery itself can turn out to be less of a good investment than expected, particularly newer releases. The Macallan launched its Genesis whisky in 2018 to celebrate the opening of a new distillery and investors and collectors camped overnight to get their hands on the limited release of 360 bottles for £495 each. They quickly shot up in value to £5,000 but after a couple of months dropped to £1,500, which was still a decent profit but not quite what investors may have hoped for.
Despite these setbacks, The Macallan is still one of the most sought-after Scotch whisky brands, renowned worldwide for the quality of its single malt whiskies, which hail from the ancient hills around Speyside. The Macallan Red Collection audition was part of a two part special auction at Sotheby’s called Ultimate Whisky Collection, which saw £8.7 million spent on rare whiskies and will be back again next year.