Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Finding Rarities and Bargains: Whisky Auctions

I read a lot of whisky and spirits blogs, websites, books, watch vlogs and engage in online forums. When you expose yourself to so much interaction in regards to the subject you are always going to hear people raving about this whisky they've had and in a staggering display of consumerist, human greed you feel compelled to have it, to try it and see what all the fuss is about.

The only issue is that this may be a whisky that was a limited edition, or is only available in certain countries, or was discontinued long ago and as such isn't available in a standard shop.

You strap-in to your desk chair and gather your calm and zen for a serious session of Google-fu to find your holy bounty. Eventually you manage to find the bottle, it'll inevitably be readily available in the US for slightly under the original UK rrp or somewhere like The Whisky Exchange or Hedonism for at least triple its' original price dwarfing the national debt of Sierra Leone.

That's it, the quest is over and you lie vanquished before the fact that you can't buy this bottle, you have rent to pay and your whisky collecting habit has made the temptation of selling your spare kidney a literal impossibility as it will kill any recipient. There is no choice but to emotionally collapse in on yourself at the thought of that sumptuous liquid never passing your lips. Or.....

Or, you can check out the monthly whisky auctions online. The online whisky auction industry has absolutely exploded within the last year with thousands of bottles being traded by collectors and whisky investors. These offer opportunities to pick up those long gone bottles at some semblance of a sensible price.

Whisky auction sites have a monthly auction that generally go live towards the end of the month and run for a week or two. The two main sites that I use are Whisky Auctioneer and Scotch Whisky Auctions.

Whisky Auctioneer has an auction live currently (as of 27/08/2014) and theirs run for two weeks. There are no registration fees to join and start bidding, but there are buyer fees at 10% of the final hammer price so be sure to factor that in when bidding. Whisky Auctioneer works a bit differently to most auction sites, but more like a real auction whereby you bid an amount and that is the total on the item until someone comes in with a higher bid, the item price doesn't increase in increments to your willing to pay total like with eBay.

This does make the auction simpler and seems to allow for some more bargains to be found, people don't seem to be trying to outbid each other by a pound half as much and I was able to pick up two bottles from the Bruichladdich Cuvee range for about £60 each a couple of months ago.

Scotch Whisky Auctions has a lot more items each month than Whisky Auctioneer, SWA has several thousand lots a month whereas WA gets about 600-650. That means there can be a lot more choice and also more duplicate lots, however due to its size there is a lot more traffic and competition which can push the prices higher than WA. Registration to SWA is £5, a one-off fee and then you are free to bid to your heart's desire.

Like with WA there is a 10% buyers fee along, but you also need to pay VAT on top of this (this is for the buyers fee and postage, not against the bottle). SWA's bidding system is like that for eBay where you set a maximum and the site bids automatically up to that and there is an added bonus of the site having an iphone app so that you can bid on the move.

Both sites have postage costs which are fairly high, but that is due to there being few courier companies that will take alcohol, they generally charge £10 for the 1st bottle and then £3-4 for every other after that.

I have found Whsiky Auctions to be great for me to get my grubby hands on those bottles that I really want to try, but are gone, or even some that I want in my collection but don't know exactly when or if I'll drink them. I would stress though to keep an eye out for fakes, there is a lot of forging going on in regards to wines and whiskies as with anything of value. Take a look around online for advice on how to spot these as the auction houses will accept bottles back within a few days.

Scotch Whisky Auctions next auction goes live on Friday, 29/08/14, check it out!

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