Collecting Whisky – Part 3

An affordable plan is needed!

In my second article, I outlined the things that would and wouldn’t be collectable, and I hope that was helpful. But now we move further down the line and make another big decision – what is the budget for collecting?

For those of you just joining the series, links to the first two articles are at the end of this article.

It can never be underestimated how much you want to spend. Pick a limit and stick to it. You might feel that I am being a bit of a dictator on this, but if you are going to be collecting using online auctions, this can rapidly be addictive and can see you reach your limit.

Don’t overstretch the pennies

It goes without saying that once you have decided what you want to collect, you need to thoroughly research the prices that these items sell for. You will find that the internet is your friend, as you can search if the bottle is available in retail, or how much these go for at auction. The advantage of looking at auction sites (and you have to be smart by looking at more than one), you can also see trends in prices.

An example setting a budget would be saying you’d spend up to a fixed amount every month or any other appropriate period of time. Of course if you don’t spend your budget, you could maybe carry it over to the next period. The important thing is not to over stretch yourself. Don’t assume that you can just sell a bottle if you over stretch yourself. You might not get back what you paid for it.

Another point If collecting a series, make sure you will have the budget to complete the series. This is because if you cannot complete the series, what you have bought may not realise as much value if you come to sell.

A good example is the Flora and Fauna series. 26 bottles. Some are still in production (around 9) and can be bought for under £50. Most of the discontinued ones are available at auction between £120-£450. The Speyburn bottling was only made for one run, and is quite rare – expect to pay £1000 – £2000 per bottle.

Be thorough with your research

Of course, perhaps time is not an issue for you, most collectable bottles will usually come back again at some point. They aren’t always drunk, and they may make a reappearance. Certainly I’ve seen the same bottle of Glenmorangie Swamp Oak Reserve turn up at auction more than once. Don’t look for it now…. it’s going nowhere for a while. – wink wink!

Eventually it may be the case it will be affordable, but leave it too long and the price may well go beyond your reach. This is why you need to consider if you will be able to afford to collect a series.

I can’t advise you on what budget to set, as it all depends on what interests you, and how much disposable income you have.

Lastly, before setting a budget, also factor in storage costs if you want to collect a sizeable collection. This will depend on location, but I pay £65 per month plus another £50 a month for my storage unit. Having said that, mine is not a drinking collection, although I do have a separate drinking stash.

How to make the most of your budget

The only way to maximise the buying power of your budget is to have a plan. And like the character Hannibal from the 80’s TV series ‘The A-Team’, it’s great when a “plan comes together.” And this is why it is a bad idea to just spend your money without careful thought.

If you are on the path of creating a drinking collection, many whiskies have similar tastes, so you need to do the research to find out where they sit within the flavour map. Personally, I don’t like to keep to the one sort of malt whisky. Although I do enjoy a peated whisky, I’ve gone off Ardbeg, so I’d not collect the whiskies that are similar to Ardbeg. I’m more of a Laphroaig fan.

Random doesn’t work….

The thing I’ve been itching to say is that there is very little advantage either to a collector or a person who will drink their whisky to just collecting any bottle. Random doesn’t work efficiently. You certainly will not always get the value that sees that bottle go up in price. If you are drinking it, that isn’t so bad, as you are only 28 drams away from a new purchase. Still, you might have to endure a bottle of blandness or lose face by offering it to guests. The kitchen sink may provide the answer.

What you need to find is focus, and the best thing to do is have a collection policy. Not only will this help you get a good gathering of bottles, but will help protect your wallet.

What is a collection policy?

Quite simply put, a collection policy is a targeted approach to collecting in which you focus on a specific area. Some collectors may only collect bottles from a specific brand or distillery, some concentrate on bottlings from a specific area. I have used this concept to great effect which has meant I am not buying random bottles. Examples of policies I have used are:-

  • a bottle from the three distilleries that were in Inverness.
  • a bottle from each of the distilleries in Dufftown. Only exception was Parkmore which closed in the 1930’s and the remaining barrels were destroyed.
  • a bottle from every distillery I pass through between where I live and Aberdeen. As this requires driving through the heart of Speyside, it was a major undertaking and I still need one or two bottles.
  • Complete the Flora & Fauna collection. I’ve almost completed 2 complete ranges with nearly every first edition, plus all wooden boxes.
  • Will be starting on the distilleries of the Lowlands once I complete a previous policy.
Having a plan helps

It’s worth remembering that in all of this, I have been looking for the limited edition bottles rather than the mass produced products of these distilleries. So far Glenfiddich was the hardest, as I didn’t want to spend an absolute fortune of it, but as Glenfiddich is a popular brand, rarer bottlings are a bit harder to come by. The one I picked was one of the last whisky batches made by the distillery while it still used coal to fire the stills. If I did get a mass produced whisky, I made sure it was discontinued.

Think about what your collection policy would be? What interests you? If smokey and peaty is your thing, consider collecting Islay and other West Coast Malts. Perhaps you want to collect all the malts from a geographical area; in Scotland there are 5 areas – Highlands and Islands, Islay, Speyside, Campbeltown and Lowlands. There are only 9 distilleries on Islay, but Ardnahoe has not released anything yet. There are only 3 distilleries in Campbeltown (Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle) so this can help focus spending and collecting.

Some people only collect from one or two distilleries, although this is usually the ‘premium brands’. Macallan also is a popular choice, but I have a particular opinion on this which many of you may disagree with. The problem with Macallan is that quite a lot of people buy the bottles on release just to sell them straight away to cash in on demand (also known as flipping). It is my opinion that this actually harms the long term value of the whisky, as people are buying on the secondary market at inflated prices. One of the many examples would be the release of Macallan Genesis. Originally retailed at £495, this was released to commemorate the opening of their new distillery. Within a month they were appearing at auction for £4000+. Now you can pick one up at auction for under £2000, which is still a healthy profit for a seller, but not so good for the first buyers on the secondary market who paid double. How would you feel if you paid £4000? That means other bottles will have to do well of you still want to turn a profit.

However, it only takes a distillery to fall out of favour and you’re investment may be at risk. Those with high value bottles will be trying to sell on, and the market will become saturated, dropping the price even further. I’ll be writing an article about Macallan and my thoughts in the future, but the point I want to make is that perhaps it is best not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Whatever you decide to have as a collection policy, I’d recommend as far as possible to purchase numbered or less common bottles, but still in demand. There is no point in collecting something anybody can buy easily, as there will be no scope for an increase in value.


Thanks for reading this far. I appreciate that there is a lot to go over but this will focus your mind, you’ll have a targeted and coherent collection, and your bank account will be at less risk of being prematurely and needlessly emptied.

To summarise

⁃ set a budget and do not exceed it

⁃ Consider a collection policy

⁃ Only collect worthwhile bottles

⁃ Try to diversify your collection

In the next article I’ll be looking at how to keep your collection

Slainte Mhath!

for those catching up….

Article 1 Beginning a collection.

Article 2 What is and isn’t collectable

This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the WordPress blog by clicking on the link below which will deliver any blog posts to your inbox, including reviews, distillery visits, whisky news and advice.

Kintyre without Macartney

Taste Review # 13 – Glen Scotia 15

Glen Scotia 15

When I first started the idea of Scotty’s Drams, it was initially to do something a little more positive on the internet. The UK was getting smothered with news on Brexit, and this had spilled onto Facebook, and it was a bit depressing. It could turn you to drink, and in my case it has! The other thing was, that despite being a long time whisky drinker, and a collector since 2006, I thought it was my turn to add to the masses of other people writing a blog on whisky. If nothing else, it would push me out of my comfort zone and get me to try different things.

So for this taste test, I am trying something new – a Campbeltown whisky that isn’t Springbank. This one is one of only three distilleries left on the Kintyre peninsula, the others being Springbank and Glengyle (which releases whisky under the Kilkerran brand to avoid confusion with Glengyle blended malt). There’s thankfully nothing to reference Paul Macartney’s 1977 Christmas No.1 hit “Mull of Kintyre”, although he has owned High Park Farm there since 1966.

Glen Scotia is available in 2 NAS bottlings (double cask and Victoriana) plus 15, 18, 25 y.o expressions. Victoriana is made to represent the whisky that was being made at Glen Scotia during that period.

Was not sure what to expect, but this was a nice whisky, and here is what I found.

The nip and bottle




15 y.o


46% a.b.v


Deep Golden / light copper


Brine, hint of smoke, burnt caramel, sweetness, ginger biscuits.


Vanilla, no real spirit burn. On first sip opens out to sweetness, possibly the influence of a sherry cask. Hues of Apricot. Wood, but not necessarily oak. Lemongrass.


Dry and robust. medium to long.


Yes. Not bad as 15 year old whiskies go. I’d not call it my favourite, but well worth a further look. I’m a big fan of ginger, and the tingle of spice was a bonus for me. The use of bourbon cask has given great vanilla notes, and the use of a sherry cask for the last two months of maturation has given a subtle sweetness.

However, you might experience something different. I’d certainly consider putting this in my drinking collection.

Slainte Mhath!

This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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Collecting Whisky

Dealing in Drams – Part Two

In the first part of this series of articles, we looked at the reasons for why people want to collect and the basic rules of collection. In this article, we step it up a notch and look at one subject in more detail.

  • What is and isn’t collectable

I’ve decided I want to collect whisky – so what do I have to do now?

Congratulations on your choice in wanting to collect whisky. You are in for such a great experience. Despite only having 3 ingredients (as long as it doesn’t get colour added) it is amazing how tastes can differ depending on things like cask selection, age, bottling strength, still shape, fermentation time, how the barley is malted or even where the warehouses for maturing the whisky are located. All of these play a part in bringing together a flavour sensation to your palate if you choose to drink what you have collected.

In my last blog post about collecting, I mentioned a few key points. These are now going to have to be seriously considered. The primary one is budget – you will have to set one, as it is not going to be fun to collect if you run out of pennies to pay for things like rent, food, petrol and other bills

What is collectable?

If you are collecting to drink or just for fun – anything is collectable, but keep reading on in this article, as it may help you focus, and to attain a truly great collection.

If you are collecting to make money, then there are far more things to look into. Just buying any bottle will be a waste of money. You need to research and to see what is in demand and short in supply. Some people concentrate on what can be argued as ‘premium’ malts such as Macallan, Highland Park, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Bowmore, others concentrate geographical areas, some only collect limited editions.

While I say anything is collectable, not everything is worthwhile collecting, especially if making money is your end goal.

Things that are not generally worth collecting in the world of whisky:-

1/ Miniatures

I’m going to get this one out of the way quickly. There is a collectors market for miniature bottles, but it’s limited. The range of miniature bottles that are worth collecting are typically very small, generally Connoisseurs Choice from Gordon & MacPhail. Bottles are typically tin screw caps and do not seal as well. There are issues is that the whisky within can be contaminated by the waxed cardboard seal inside the cap, as the whisky was never meant to be collected – it was meant to be drunk. And that’s what I do with my collection of miniatures – I buy them if there is a bottling I have in my collection and want to taste. I also buy them to do taste tests for you, as it saves me having to buy the full bottle.

Recent chat with somebody in the Whisky Retail trade suggested that it is harder and harder to get miniatures, as firms discontinue doing them, as most of the cost is down to the glass bottle.

2/ Anything involving a ceramic bottle or jug.

There is a massive inherent problem with ceramics. In fact there are a few. The obvious one is that ceramic isn’t see through. There is no way of verifying the condition or the level of the whisky within. It may be filled with tea. If you crack the seal open to look and find it’s all fine, you have just destroyed your investment.

Ceramic is also porous. Any problems in the glaze, and you will notice spots on the outside as whisky filters through.

Lastly, ceramic is more fragile than glass. Any sort of chip or scratch, and the limited value falls massively.

I’ve only really seen one ceramic release that has tempted me but I’ve resisted – there is a Glenfiddich in a Wedgewood container. But regardless of the whisky or the reputation of the ceramics, do your self a favour and leave the ceramics for the Antique Roadshow or your Grandmother’s sideboard.

3/ Anything from a supermarket shelf

If obtaining a collection for drinking is your goal, then there isn’t really anything wrong with buying from a supermarket, as you are drinking to consume. However don’t expect much in the way of premium or collectable whisky to be there. This is because supermarkets won’t stock the whisky you need to make a great collection – the amount of people willing to spend £120 on a 21 year old whisky in Asda is very low.

The offerings in a supermarket are going to be mass produced and not particularly worth anything unless they are really popular and get discontinued. You will rarely make much money off a whisky under £100 unless this is the situation. There are exceptions, but I will cover these later.

4/ Low quality whisky

Why would anybody want to collect low quality whisky? If you are intending to drink it, you’d be wanting to impress those you share it with, or you’d prefer hopefully to enjoy the finer things in life. There is no point in having a cabinet or collection full of whisky from a supermarket, unless that is what you like to drink.

While there is nothing really wrong with cheaper whisky, it has obviously been made to a price point. The time taken to make it and mature it will have been less. It will have been made in large batches which DOES affect the quality. And without any doubt, it will be lower strength, chill filtered and have colouring added to appeal to the mass market. This is not the finer end of the scale, and unless there is a demand after it gets discontinued, it will never make money. The chances of there being demand is low, as consumers move on to the next bottle of gut rot.

Anything from Aldi and Lidl is generally a no-no, but on the odd occasion they have released a good whisky that has impressed both the critics and the general public. The 40 year whiskies released by Aldi hit public and industry acclaim, and regularly hit auction prices over £200. Not bad for a bargain malt that cost £38.

5/ Collections being pushed by their producers.

I left this one until last, but it’s something that is bit of a personal rant, and I feel leads those just starting to collect whisky down a garden path littered with ‘dog eggs.’ My recent visit to Oban Distillery showed the distillery shop crammed full of the Diageo Game of Thrones series. Plus it was pushed by the guide at the end of the tour. While this is collectable, let me tell you why I wouldn’t bother.

⁃ the bottles are all Non-Age Statement. There could be a good whack of young, cheap whisky in there.

⁃ The price per bottle is in the £38 – £65 range – reinforces the point above.

⁃ The whisky will probably be a mix of editions that already exist but will you open it to try it? Will it be any good? The primary reason for buying should always be the quality of the spirit. While I’m sure it won’t be trash whisky, it won’t be the finest.

⁃ It is mass produced, unnumbered bottles. There will be thousands of them going about.

⁃ To make money, you have to sell it. If there are thousands of bottles, once Game Of Thrones (or whatever theme is current) leaves the current consciousness, there will be less of a demand for it. Who will you sell to? Probably every whisky drinking Game of Thrones fan will have one. Any self respecting whisky drinker won’t drink stuff made for TV programme geeks as they know it’s just a marketing ploy to sell more whisky.

Game Of Thrones. All coloured and Chill Filtered

Collections themselves can be worth collecting. I have a couple of complete series of different ranges, but none of which have been pushed as a specific collectable item. Plus, my collections are worth a lot more than the original price, and once fully out of production should realise a good investment.

With all this in mind, we need to think about what will be worth collecting.

What should I want to collect?

1/ Aged or Vintage Whisky

While we know that just because a whisky doesn’t have an age statement or vintage on it mean that it is inferior, it is worth noting that any age reference on a whisky seals the deal. People will then know what they are getting.

2/ Limited Editions

Not all ‘Limited Editions’ are really that limited. See my rant about Game Of Thrones, which actually just means they are limiting how much they will market it while there is demand. Also, just because something is labelled as rare, doesn’t mean to say it is. Take a look on an auction website to see how many whiskies with ‘rare’ or ‘limited’ there are – my point will be instantly proven.

The truly rare whiskies cost thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds, and are worth that much not just because of age, but perhaps their bottle. Whenever Macallan release something new and limited, the value only spikes due to those flipping their bottles. One example is the Folio releases. Folio 4 has just been released, it cost £250, so the whisky in it isn’t rare or old. But by people flipping them as soon as they were released, prices hit well over £1000. Yet they aren’t that rare. It’s all just hype. A truly rare whisky in my opinion has less than 50 bottles.

Worthwhile, yet affordable limited editions don’t have to be that rare but they do have to be in demand. One such collection would be the Rare Malts series of Diageo, which is now discontinued, having been replaced by annual Special Releases in 2005, but the Rare Malts collection is usually under 6000 bottles, the range contains some cracking whiskies, many of which have disappeared forever due to the distilleries closing and being demolished. There is a steady demand for these bottles, as it seems some people still drink them, but nowadays you’ll only find them on the secondary market in specialist shops or auctions.

One of 9000.

Try to buy whisky which had less than a run of 10000 bottles and you may stand a chance.

3/ Silent Whisky

This is generally a good buy. However, you need to be smart. Silent whisky is from a distillery that has been closed. It’s even better if it has been demolished – you then know that only the barrels in existence are all that remains to be bottled. I’ve a few bottles like that – Imperial, St Magdalene, Millburn, Glen Mhor, Glen Albyn. Even if the distillery still exists and is possibly able to be reopened, the older whisky will still be valuable. We will soon see when the original Clynelish distillery (known as Brora), Port Ellen and Rosebank become re-activated.

Whisky like this is always in some sort of demand and will perform adequately in regards to value improvements.

The Holy Grail is a limited bottle from a silent distillery.

4/ Good Quality Whisky

Finding quality whisky isn’t hard. You need to see what is popular, what is selling well, what gets talked about in the forums, whisky magazines, Facebook etc. Just collect at least a bottle or two. Get recommendations in specialist stores, such as a whisky shop or a quality off-licence. Odds on are that it will eventually be discontinued. If you have a wee supply, you’ll be in prime position to sell for profit at auction.

5/ Discontinued Whisky

Keep a watch for quality whisky that has, or will be discontinued. It has to be popular, as you need to hope people will drink what is on secondary market. Once they do, the limited availability will drive prices up on the secondary market.

I’ve bought a couple of bottles this way, and am realising good potential returns. I got the heads up about Bunnahabhain Moine Oloroso 2017 being a decent dram and not available to get in the shops. However, careful scouting online saw me buy 2 of the last available bottles I could find in retail. What I paid for two of them, some people are bidding the same amount for a single bottle at auction. Happy days for me.

6/ First / Last Bottles

When the first produce of a distillery is bottled, this can be a widely anticipated event. There are quite a few smaller distilleries that have opened in Scotland recently, and these are proving to be popular. First bottles are a good bet – if the distillery proves it has a good whisky, your bottle will increase. On the flip side, if the whisky isn’t so great and the distillery folds, you will have a rare bottle (although distillery failures are not that common nowadays). Similarly, last bottles are good too, but are much harder to obtain. I’ve a bottle from the last cask filled at the Dallas Dhu distillery, but it won’t be the absolute last bottle, as nobody is fully aware if independent bottlers still have casks in storage.

7/ Whisky Series

Allied Distillers special editions 2005

There is a lot to be said for collecting whisky series. There are one or two that are worth while collecting, need not cost the earth, and need not be too rare. Some of them may not make much in profit, some may be expensive, and some you need not collect all the available bottles in the series, but for the cheaper ones, it is advisable. If you are looking for an expensive series, try looking at things like the Glenfarclas Family Casks – the older the vintage, the more expensive it is to buy. The headline picture of Scotty’s Drams FB page is the Allied Distillers range released in 2005 from 6 of their distilleries. All are 15 yr old, and includes the only official bottling from Imperial Distillery, unless the owners have some older casks still in stock. Bottles are in the £50 – £120 range. Tomatin had the 5 Virtues of Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Metal. Of course, there is the Flora and Fauna range, but it is getting harder to find all of the 26 bottles that were released.


What we have learnt from this article is that there are definitely some things you should collect, and others you definitely shouldn’t collect. But even with the guidance that I’ve provided, there are still many ways not to be focused. Resist your temptation to just buy bottles randomly. You could end up with some duds. What you choose to collect will primarily be set by what budget you set, and how much you wish to spend on individual purchases.


Next article

  • Setting a budget
  • Collection Policies

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Collecting Whisky

Dealing in Drams – Part One

One of the most popular questions I get when people discover that I have a collection of Scottish whisky is “what bottles are worth collecting?” There is no easy answer to this, and when thinking what I would have to write to cover this, it was just too big a subject to blog about in one go, so my collecting advice is going to be given out over a few weeks.

This series will contain over the next month

  • Why Collect?
  • Good initial rules of collection
  • What is and isn’t collectable
  • Advice on how to collect
  • Advice on maintaining your collection
  • Advice of how to store your collection
  • Advice on how to sell your collection

While I mention certain bottles, it is not an explicit recommendation that you have to buy them.

Any advice is only based on my own experience. Be aware the value of bottles can go up or down.

Reasons for collecting vary from person, and what I would find worth collecting may not be so good for others. As I keep on saying, the past 10 years or so have seen a massive increase in the popularity in single malts, and this has seen many different bottles emerge, and also many disappear. Collectors are a group of people which many of the big corporate drink companies are starting to target, although not all the offerings are actually good quality or value.

So, why do people collect whisky? Having thought it over, I think it can be summarised as these reasons:-


There is no mistaking that collecting whisky can be fun. It all depends on your outlook. Perhaps you like the thrill of the chase by adding at auction for unusual bottles. Maybe you like the research of the distilleries to see what bottles are collectable, and in turn learning something about the character of that distillery.

There’s also no disputing that if you are planning to drink what you collect, that decision can fall into the category of fun. To be able to revel in the kudos of having a specialist selection in your drinks cabinet could also be a large source of satisfaction from having collected it through one means or another.

To store tastes and memories

As the whisky industry expands at such a rapid rate, the older casks become fewer and fewer. Perhaps you remember a whisky that is now discontinued that you really enjoyed, or there is a dram that resonates with a special personal memory. It could be an idea that if you want to preserve this, you might wish to maybe buy a few bottles.

As the older casks dwindle, ‘recipes’ of blends and malts will change. Case in point that comes to mind is the 15 year old Glendronach. Its production had to be stopped in 2015, as the casks necessary to make the malt were exhausted. After a three year break, it’s back. However similar it is to the original 15 year old, it isn’t the same, and an original 15 will always likely be worth more than the more than the more recent bottlings. I’m not saying it will make a lot of money, but it will be one to consider looking at as a low cost option.

To invest

This is an entirely a subject in its own right. Before going down this path, you need to have goals, knowledge, patience and somewhere to secure your investment. In following this aim, you may still have fun in building a collection, but may never taste it.

To trade

I’m not meaning to sell in a commercial sense, but perhaps a bottle is collected on the knowledge that you never will open it, but you appreciate that it may hold some value in the future and can be sold or traded to get something you want to drink that has become more scarce.

Whatever your reason for collecting, there are some very basic rules that you need to abide by, and these don’t seem to get mentioned anywhere else. They are common sense, but worth repeating anyway.


This is the most important rule, and this is why the font was made bold. Speaking from a UK perspective, a decent bottle of single malt can vary from £40 to £150 in a supermarket. You may be £70 – £100 for an 18 y.o, and £120+ for a 21 year old. In specialist retailers some will be up to £500+ for the older or more unusual. You might be able to afford it at the time, but the amount you can spend over a year may not be sustainable. You will need to set a budget, and stick to it. Trust me, it is easy to get out of control.

2/ Make sure you have somewhere to keep your collection

No point in building a collection if you have nowhere to keep it. And in an investment scenario, you will need somewhere with little temperature variation, and depending on its value, somewhere secure.

It is worth bearing in mind that a large spirit collection is a fire hazard. Many home insurers limit how much you can keep at home. Check your small print. Plus, if collecting as an investment, nearly all home insurance policies have a maximum insurance value for individual items. You may need to consider a secure storage unit and specialist insurance.

3/ Collect quality and not quantity.

Especially true for investment whisky. Some things will not make money as there is no demand for it (Bells Decanter anybody?) or a bottle of Famous Grouse. Mass produced bottlings will not make anything or very little unless they are discontinued or there is a recipe or packaging change. Even then, it may be very little profit.

Better to buy a good quality whisky over a couple of mediocre ones. Sure, for the price of a decent malt you can buy two bottles of Famous Grouse, but the decent malt will form memories, will give you an experience. Grouse is just a generic blended whisky.

Even if you don’t want to invest and prefer to drink your collection, quality always wins over quantity. Is it not better to have the finer things than always going for the ordinary and blend? By experiencing the finer things, you will expand your whisky experience and gain knowledge of different flavour profiles; in doing this you may unlock the door to the treasure that can be gained by a good whisky. Going generic means you’ll never experience much different, unless collecting the boxes it comes in is your thing.

4/ Do not expect to make money

Whisky is not designed to be collected. Or at least that used to be true. Brands like Macallan are making editions that are specifically for collectors in mind. However, if you are collecting for investment, there is a possibility that brands fall out of favour. What might be the brand of the moment may not be in 10 years. Whilst with Macallan, Highland Park, Talisker, Lagavuilin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig this may not be so much of a risk, it depends on the bottling.

To be fair, you should, with careful choices, be able at the very minimum to maintain the value in pace with inflation. But one example that springs to mind is Convalmore. I’m a fan of Convalmore, the Dufftown distillery that closed in 1985. I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog so I’ll keep it brief. The 1977 vintage of the 28 year old and 36 year old as part of a Diageo special release have done relatively well. The latest 32 year old from 1984 hasn’t. From a £1200 retail price, it can be found for around £1000 retail, and as low as £500 at auction. I’ll deal with this more in a future blog. People buying for investment either got a big shock, a bargain, or a whisky they are now going to drink.

And if it all goes horribly wrong with whisky collecting, at least with intelligent choices, you’re going to have a decent drinks cabinet to drown your sorrows!

Slainte Mhath!

Next article focus – How do I define what is and isn’t collectable?

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It’s time for the ‘F-word’

Whisky Fakes – Collecting advice #3

Now we are getting into the swing of things, those of you who have been reading my blog will realise that I have a collection of whisky. Before you decide to descend on my house for a party, let me save you the cost of travel; it’s in storage well away from the house. I just don’t want to be tempted to drink some of it.

This next article should be of importance to all of you who drink and enjoy a good whisky, and aren’t afraid to pay for it. It also should be essential reading for those of you thinking of expanding their collection, especially with high demand or high value bottles. I’ll keep it brief but you really need to be aware of the facts.

The ‘F-word’ we have to deal with is one that will fill anybody who has paid a pretty penny for a bottle with dread – FAKE.

This is a subject an old work colleague and I were discussing over a drink after bumping into each other at Aberdeen Airport this New Year’s Eve. I was aware of fakes and was pretty sure of the items I had were safe. However I decided to do a bit more research and was a bit horrified at what I found.

One is real and worth a fortune

It is unfortunate that once something becomes popular, expensive or both that the unscrupulous amongst the human race will start to make fakes. This goes from anything from kids toys, clothes and fashion, tools and dutiable goods like tobacco and drink. And whisky falls into this category. Fake whisky can have dramatic negative effects to our bank balances and our health.

Before the mass demand of whisky we have now, products like this have always been faked. In Europe, quite a lot of whiskies were faked by the Mafia. But now that the demand is continuing to grow, and older whisky stocks are going down, prices are going up, and this fuels the fakes market.


And here is how to do it.

1/ Know what your bottle should look like.

Research what the label should look like. Check the seal is intact. Confirm the capsule is the correct colour. Check the liquid inside is the correct colour. Is it even in the correct bottle? Be aware of the correct bottle shape and size, and any embossed patterns. Remember, that distilleries do occasionally change bottle shape. Bruichladdich used to be in tall bottles but now in more dumpy ones. Just be sure the bottle is appropriate for the age of the whisky.

2/ Check the label

Compare to a known original bottle or a bottle from the same distillery. Check for incorrect spelling and that the volume and abv are stated. Be aware that some older, cheaper whiskies don’t always state volume or strength – it may depend on export market. Proceed with caution. Another give away is does the bottle state the correct region? Knowledge is needed here as although it’s a Speyside Malt, Macallan state it’s a Highland Malt on the labels. Here’s a tip – all Speyside whiskies can also be classed as Highland, but not all Highland whiskies are Speysiders. Another whisky that calls itself a Highland malt but is also Speyside is Dalwhinnie.

Are the labels too clean for an aged bottle? Another giveaway. Check the paper type, and how it is attached to the bottle. Is there any gold or metallic coloured lettering – check it is a foil and not just printed on.

3/ Above all else, check the seal!

Give the seal a very close inspection. Check for tampering, check the capsule is the right colour, and isn’t loose. Some Ardbeg, including the collectible ones have very poor capsules, which can be removed. Check the capsule hasn’t been secured in a way that was not by the bottler.

4/ Check the fill level and colour of the liquid.

Already mentioned in step one, but give it more of a check. If the fill level is higher than normal, or higher than an average bottle of the same age, alarm bells should be ringing. This can be difficult in coloured glass or impossible in the case of ceramic decanters.

5/ If possible, buy directly from a retailer.

The chances of a fake whisky being sold by trusted retailer are small. If buying a bottle on the secondary market from a retailer, closely examine the bottle. Look for all the above and be satisfied before you part with the cash. If you want to be totally sure, research batch codes, and see if the bottle you want to buy has an appropriate code. For higher price items, the seller will probably be happy enough to let you check before you buy, as you may be buying a bottle worth hundreds or thousands of pounds.

6/ Exercise care using auctions

Auctions are the place where you need to be most wary, especially if buying expensive bottles. If it’s an online auction, feel free to go to the auction house and request to see it if it is a massively expensive bottle. All online auction houses I deal with are happy enough to send extra photos to you by email or to discuss the bottle in question.

Don’t get hammered at auction

While buying from an auction means that somebody has had an experienced eye over look it, they might miss some of the fakes. Once you receive your bottle, give it a good check over and notify the auction house immediately if you have reasonable doubt as to authenticity. The auction house will not want a reputation for selling improper goods. You may also have a form of come-back and retrieve your money.


If you keep your bottles in the free storage often offered by the auctioneers, this may limit your comeback if it is a fake. By time you collect, the seller of the fake has their money, and it will be almost impossible to retrieve. You may well get money back from the auction house, but don’t expect it to be easy.

7/ Private sales.

Unless you fully trust the person you are dealing with, I recommend to avoid this method of purchase. Once you have bought your bottle and found out it is fake, your cash is long gone.

If you are considering purchasing this way, insist on being able to check on the bottle and packaging. Ask for receipts. Anybody with high value bottles will keep the receipts, or genuine bills of sale / orders. If they cannot supply this, walk away.

Do not purchase on eBay. You have no comeback. Buying alcohol on eBay in the UK is forbidden anyway – HMRC cracked down on that years ago.

If the price being asked is too low, ask why. It could be that

⁃ they are desperate for money

⁃ It’s fake

⁃ It’s stolen

⁃ It’s damaged

⁃ They don’t know what it’s worth

⁃ They’re not greedy. This is possible but as many people think old or rare whisky has the value of a brand new Porsche 911, this isn’t that common unless you are in a genuine whisky circle.

I’ve been offered a bottle of Macallan Genesis for £250. This was at the time they were being auctioned for £4000+. As it was a workmate, I couldn’t do it to him, knowing they were released for £495. I also had my suspicions over the bottle. While I have no doubt about my work colleagues story about him buying it off a guy in Peterhead, it was obvious the bottle had a dodgy past or the guy was desperate.

Needless to say when I told my colleague of the real value, I made his day.

8/ Not all fakes are high value spirits

Don’t assume it’s only collectible or expensive bottles that get faked. I’ve learnt of cheaper Glenmorangie (£50-£70) being faked. While this may not be that worthwhile, as profits will be low; if demand is higher, it will be more worthwhile.

And I leave the most important point to last.

If you have purchased a bottle that is fake, you are taking a big gamble with your health. You do not know what is in that bottle. There may be something as harmless as cold tea or food colouring. There may also be a lower quality whisky in there. Mind you, even if it is Bells, that’s maybe not going to kill you. But there could also be industrial alcohol such as methanol in the bottle. This will blind you, in as little as twelve hours and cause massive damage to your central nervous system. Once ingested, Methanol forms Formaldehyde and Formic acid. You do not want this inside you.

The possible result of drinking fakes.

I can testify to the horrible experience of Formaldehyde. It is used as a preservative in beer, most notably in Africa. As I have to work there on a regular basis, I try only to drink imported beer and never drink any spirits. You don’t know what you are getting. Plus, Formaldehyde gives you a cracker of a hangover.

What can we do to help to stem the spread of fakes?

Firstly, use the knowledge I have given you to buy smart. If there is no demand, the faking rate will drop. Remember, if it is too good to be true, it is.

Secondly, do not sell your empty bottles. Keep them if you wish, but otherwise smash them and recycle. Forgers often refill bottles and these are harder to spot, as the bottle and label are genuine. Same goes for your stoppers. Keep a selection of sizes in case you have a broken cork, but otherwise destroy these too.

People often buy these bottles to make cool lamps out of, but this is not hard to do yourself. You never know if you are selling your bottle to a forger.

If you are ever selling, consider using an auction house to sell. You might have to pay 10% of the hammer price in auction fees, but if your bottle sells, it’s an no hassle sale. Or go through a broker. Companies like Rare Whisky 101 are highly reputable and have a list of clients looking to buy collections or certain bottles.

Whenever you buy a bottle, keep a copy of the receipt. Photocopy it if it’s a till receipt as many thermal print receipts fade after time rendering them useless. Other buyers will be wary of fakes too, and will be seeking provenance on high value bottles. I have to admit, I don’t have every receipt, but the ones I don’t have were low value gifts or bought from a reputable seller and I do have every confidence in the bottles.

I bought this. Is it real?? Despite having a few alarm bells, it probably is genuine.

Have I bought a fake? I’d like to think not, but I have one bottle in my collection I bought at auction I have my suspicions over. It’s a Gilbeys Spey Royal from the 1950s. It was purchased at auction when I went to hoover up something that had a low price on it. I was thinking of drinking it but had second thoughts.

Seeing as I only paid £35 I’m not that worried, and it will be a good ornament. It has no volume or ABV stated, but having researched online, this seems to be almost normal for a bottle of this age, and I have seen similar bottles with the same. Further research with the auctioneer gave me some knowledge I previously didn’t know, and it turns out that the bottle is different as it is a Portuguese import, and that is the type of bottle that was stipulated which differs from the original bottle. This isn’t a unique issue – in the past the iconic square bottles of Johnnie Walker were rejected by Portugal in a similar period, so a different (round) bottle was used. As for the abv and volume missing from the label, this wasn’t required on UK bottles until the 70’s, so would only be added if the country importing it requested it. But still, I’m not going to take a chance and it will remain unopened.

So I’ll keep my health and drink to yours with something a bit more classy!

Slainte Mhath!

If you feel this info was useful, please share with others to help stop the scourge of counterfeit whisky.

Why not visit my Facebook page by clicking on my link to Scotty’s Drams?

Bagging A Bargain Bottle

Collecting Advice #2 – Convalmore 32 y.o / 1984

“When things seem to be going horribly wrong for others, that may be the time to strike for yourself. It’s not as though you are literally kicking somebody when they are down. At least metaphors don’t hurt physically….”

One of the hardest things to predict when collecting whisky is to discern what bottles will see you make a profit if investment is one of your collecting goals. There is just so much variety, but it takes a little bit of research to find out what may be worth taking a chance on. It is worth repeating that “taking a chance” part of the last statement as nothing in investments is guaranteed, and certainly not in the case of Scotch Malt Whisky. You may recall my previous blog post about the St Magdalene 1979 Rare Malts; the chances are that is a good bet, but you constantly are having to wonder if it has reached its top price at auction. Seeing the movement that is currently happening, I would like to think it will continue to rise.

There are bottles that will appreciate, but at different paces. The closest you can get to a sure thing is anything by Macallan, and some of the rarer releases from the silent distilleries of Brora and Port Ellen. In the case of Macallan, some recent releases are seeing the purchasers placing them straight onto the auction market, and the flooding of this market I believe has affected the price. Now that the initial demand for some of their recent ballots has dropped, the prices have dropped significantly too, although still higher than the original purchase price (and only just in some cases).

In the examples of Port Ellen and Brora, both distilleries will be re-opening, and it remains to be seen what will happen to the prices of whisky currently on the market. It is my opinion that prices may stay stable, as it will be whisky from a different era; the original incarnation of that distillery, and therefore demand shouldn’t change. As for the new releases, I think the initial bottling will be a highly sought item, and you will do well to look out for any early limited editions of the new bottles. 

My personal collection policy has been to concentrate on limited releases (not necessarily expensive ones), rarer bottles and bottles from silent distilleries. After all, they won’t be making any more. The holy grail is a limited bottle from a closed distillery, but some of these command large price tags. 

Diageo for some years now have been releasing a range of Special Releases, which had its origins in the Rare Malts series which ended in 2005. The special releases generally are a range of around 10 different bottlings from their distillery profile. Some start at the affordable end of the range up to the eye-watering £2000 mark. You would think with this in mind, and all the special releases being a limited edition in their own right that prices should keep growing. 

This is not always the case. 

One of the special release brands that I had taken a shine to was from the silent distillery of Convalmore. It was the period style text and presentation of the box and labels that attracted me to it, and the fact prices generally seemed to be rising slowly and consistently. Furthermore, as it had closed in 1985, no more was being made. Therefore it meets my criteria for collection. 

The first special release was a 28 year old from 1977, and was released in 2005. Expect to pay between £400 and £600 at auction for one now. The second special release was the 36 year old also from 1977. This was released at £600, and in 2017 I managed to get one of the last bottles on sale in Blair Athol distillery. Prices have now started to rise rapidly at auction. Is this now the result of supply not meeting demand? Excitement seems to be building for this bottle, and prices seem to be above £700 in general, with a high last year of £1100 for one sale.

The 36 year old Convalmore. Getting rarer than Hens Teeth in a pile of Rocking Horse Poo

Fast forward to the 2017 Diageo special releases. There was a surprise release of a blend being included for the first time which consisted of all 27 Diageo Scotch Malts, and their single grain whisky. Also there was another Convalmore release of the 32 year old 1984 release. It certainly raised my eye, but was rapidly shut again with a retail price of £1200, double the price of the previous release. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to be paying that price, and would be waiting to see what the auction market threw up, but given the success for the 27 and 36 year olds, I wasn’t holding my breath. 

The 32 Year Old Convalmore. Isn’t she a beauty?

What happened next was totally surprising. I wasn’t expecting such a drop in price. Over the past year, prices have been hovering around the £600 mark, but have sometimes been struggling to reach even that. This could be your opportunity to grab a bargain! I purchased a bottle at around the £600, which makes me glad I didn’t pay retail price, but even then, I’ve seen the same bottle at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland sell for £999, a whole £200 cheaper than the original price. 

Did Diageo get their price wrong, and why is this now a bargain to be had now?

Firstly, I would like to think Diageo got it right. While I haven’t tasted this dram yet, I’m on the lookout for a bargain bottle to do so. Perhaps a cheaper one with a damaged box or label, which may crop up. I think we have to use our knowledge of how Single Malt is made up of multiple casks to realise there may be a mix of rarer casks from 1984 there. Plus it was made in the year before Convalmore shut down for the last time. Perhaps it’s the last casks available, and this could be the last original release from Diageo. It would be fairly silly of Diageo to price it excessively just out of greed, when other bottles in that years special releases where much cheaper. 

Take a look at The Whisky Exchange Website by clicking here to see what Convalmore is retailing at now. While this is not indicitive of how prices may go, I think we will see prices head that way.

It is definitely an auction bargain to be sought out now, as I believe the price will not sink any significantly lower. People may have bought this speculatively to make a fast buck based on the last release and have been burnt at auction. What will make the difference is that we need more and more people to taste and review this whisky, as once it builds a reputation, prices will rise again in the longer term. As long as it beats inflation, you have a winner of an investment. 

And I’m not alone in thinking this. This particular bottling won the 2019 whisky bible malt of the year for whiskies 28 – 34 year old. 

I’ve tasted a couple of different independently bottled Convalmore expressions before, and while it is too long ago to give a review. I do remember it as a cracking, little known Speysider. If your investment doesn’t go to plan on this bottle, you will have a whisky which for the large part will not disappoint. At the current price point it is auctioning at, I would guess it will hold its value at least in the mid to long term. So, if you want one, get in there and bid low. Only spend what you can afford, and if you choose not to drink the whisky but wait, you should then at least maintain your investment. However I feel in years to come, this will go up in value, prehaps to the original purchase price. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of a low auction price. When things seem to be going horribly wrong for others, that may be the time to strike for yourself. It’s not as though you are literally kicking somebody when they are down. At least metaphors don’t hurt physically…..but perhaps it might sting them knowing what they may have paid for it!

The Convalmore distillery still exists. Diageo sold it to its neighbour who own the Balvenie / Kininvie / Glenfiddich complex next door in Dufftown. It is used for storage, but I have seen another whisky writer (albeit a professional one, unlike my amateur self!) mention Convalmore should be one of the distilleries to reopen in their opinion. 

I sincerely hope it does. 

Slainte Mhath!

Once It’s Gone, It’s Gone

Collecting tips #1 – St Magdalene 1979

I haven’t written anything much about collecting whisky yet, but I am starting to notice trends on one particular bottle which may be worth a second look. This won’t be one for the drinking cabinet unless you have deep pockets, but is widely regarded as one of the finest whiskies out there to drink with ratings of around 95-97 out of 100 from professional whisky journalists and 90+ from other reviews I’ve seen.

You might argue about the whiskies that sell for £100k price would be more exquisite, although that will be probably because you are thinking it is better because of the price you’d have to pay per dram. But stick a £100k whisky in amongst others of a similar age and lower price bracket, and I contend the vast majority of us will not be able pick the massively priced drink.

And we come to the bottle in question which thankfully doesn’t command a 6 figure price tag, the Rare Malts 19 year old St Magdalene 1979 from Diageo. The Rare Malts series was released between 1995 and 2005 and included bottles from all of the Diageo Scottish distilleries, including some that had already closed. Many distilleries had more than one Rare Malt release, and St Magdalene had 3, in 1970, 1971 and 1979. As the distillery was also known as Linlithgow, there was a 30 year old Diageo special bottling from 1973. However It is the 1979 that has turned heads and is fast becoming a trophy in anybody’s cabinet, with prices now starting to rival some of the cheaper Brora bottlings.

While I don’t know how many of the 1979 were released, I’ve never seen a bottle with a number above 9999, which would mean there was a comparatively low outrun. And it’s worth bearing in mind these were originally sold for sub-£50, so I’d imagine quite a few have been drunk. In fact, given it’s age and its cask strength of 63.8%, it would have sold for £62 in today’s money. Try getting a cracking 19 year old whisky for that money now is nigh on impossible.

When I first bought my St Magdalene, (which is safely under lock and key in a storage facility I hasten to add), prices were under £600, but recent auctions have seen them reach £800+. Whether this is a spike of dedicated collectors trying to get a bottle as supplies run down, or Investment funds buying up available supplies and thus demand raising the price will remain to be seen, but there is one thing surer than sure; they aren’t making it any more.

St Magdalene was closed in 1983, and effectively demolished – the maltings are now apartments, although they retain the pagoda roofs, distilling here will never return. New releases of St Magdalene remain rare, as it has to be wondered how many independent bottlers still have barrels in stock, or even if Diageo retain some. As stocks dwindle, there won’t be a lot left to add into any blends. Therefore prices will only go one way while there is still a demand.

Thinking back to a conversation I had with Roy from the Aquavitae YouTube channel about the price I paid for one of the less common Flora & Fauna bottlings (White Capped Glendullan 14 y.o). We agreed that the price meant the whisky could never live up to the price I paid, as it was bottled as a sub £60 price point whisky, and therefore the price I paid meant the whisky taste had lost relevance; the value was in the rarity and thus effectively the bottle becomes an ornament. It is true – I paid more because of its rarity, and have no intention of cracking it open. Does the St Magdalene 1979 RM get covered under the same blanket?

No. Definitely not. It has been tasted, and is a stunning example of a fine whisky. For an entertaining review, please click on the link here to see the review.

Want to try a St Magdalene? You’d better have deep pockets, but independent bottlings are a lot cheaper, and will rise in price also as the RM series increases. Old Malt Cask, Berry Brothers, Cadenhead, Gordon and Macphail, Douglas Laing and SWMS all had releases, many of which included miniatures. This may be the affordable way to try it.

While it will never command the prices of the rarer Macallan and Dalmore, it certainly is an appreciating classic. If you see a bottle that you can afford to collect or drink, grab it. Expect to pay around the £650 – £750 mark, but some have auctioned at over £1000.

You can buy this on the secondary market at some retailers; the cheapest I have seen online was £1200. That would only be worth paying if you are convinced the growth in the collectors market will see the price exceed this level, or if you are desperate to try this very expression.

The maxim of “Once it’s gone, it’s gone” has never so true.

Whisky Auctions for Beginners

There is no doubt at all that there has been a massive surge in the popularity of whisky, and no more so can this be seen in the proliferation of on-line auctions. This can be a good way of building a collection for drinking, for investment or for finding that unusual gift. So how do these sites work, and what are the advantages and the pitfalls of using these sites?

Getting Started

A quick search on Google will reveal several websites that offer specialist whisky auctions. I’ll supply links at the end of this blog post for these, so if you are interested, you will be able to see for yourself and decide if the whisky auction scene is for you. The sites I am registered with are Whisky Auctioneer (in Perth), Scotch Whisky Auctions (Glasgow), Global Whisky Auctions (Glasgow) , Just Whisky (Dumfermline), Whisky Online Auctions (Blackpool), Grand Whisky Auctions (Invergordon), Whisky Hammer (Ellon, Aberdeenshire), and Whisky (Germany). Of course there will be many more sites world wide, but these are the ones which I use due to them being close to where I live, or have reasonable shipping charges.

Usually all of these sites require a small, non-refundable payment to register, typically £5 / €7 to try and discourage spam accounts, and also to ensure the person registered with the site is over 18. It’s as simple as that. And now the whisky world is your oyster.I

Start Bidding

And now it is time to scan through the site to see what interests you. Once you find something that you wish to purchase, then its time to place a bid. Before you place any bid, there are a couple of things that you need to take into account in order to keep yourself financially safe, and perhaps bag yourself a bargain.

1. Know the how much you are willing to spend. This is this most important thing you need to take account of. By not sticking to this, you are at risk of spending more than you can afford, or perhaps more than the item is worth. It is also worth remembering that the hammer price is not the final price that you will pay.  The final cost will be the hammer price, plus somewhere around 10-15% commission. You will also have to pay VAT on the commission, which in the case of businesses is not VAT recoverable. If you are getting the item delivered you will also have the courier costs and the optional insurance which is typically 3%. An example would be a hammer price of £50. 10% commission +VAT = £6. Delivery costs typically £10 for a single bottle. 3% bottle insurance £1.50. Total cost £67.50. Although this may be a small increase, the effect of the commission etc increases greatly as the price of the bottle goes up.

2. Know the value of what you are buying. This may not be the most obvious, but is very easy to get caught out on. To be honest, I have been caught out badly with this once, but thankfully got away with it. The thing is that auctions can be fun, and it is very easy to get carried away, hence why the most important rule is the first one above. However if you don’t know the value of what you are bidding on, you can easily be overpaying. This can be avoided by doing your research prior to bidding. Search other auction sites, or google the bottle to see if there is a trend in the price, and to see what they generally go for. It is then you decide whether or not what you want to spend is sufficient, or if you need to adjust your limits upwards or downwards. Don’t just go on the last sale price or only from one site. You might find that one site does manage to get slightly better prices than others.

3.Google Google Google. While this post is concentrating on auction sites, don’t limit your research to just whisky auction sites. It could be that the bottle you are bidding on is still available in the shops for less than the typical auction price. One great success I have had recently was when I was recommended the 2017 Bunnahabhain Moine Oloroso. This was out of production, and the video blog I was watching was saying how if you see one on a shelf, buy it! Well, I did a thorough Google search, and as had been advised, every site was saying sold out. I was just away to give up, but scrolled through one last page and lo! and behold – a retailer with 2 in stock. A split second later, I had both bought for £157 including delivery. I then looked up auction prices and found typical price is £120-£180 for a bottle! And remember the additional costs underlined in point 1. This has made my bottles a very worthwhile investment. The only explaination why the price in auction may be higher is that perhaps the bidders are in a country where particular bottles are not available or they are desperate to obtain a bottle.

4. Don’t be tempted to up your maximum bid. As the auction draws to an end, you may find yourself outbid. In many auction sites, as the price goes beyond certain thresholds, the minimum bid increase goes up. For instance, below £100, some sites only allow bid increases at a minimum of £5, but above £100 it may rise as high as £10. Beyond £500, some sites have a minimum increase of £50. You can see how it will get expensive very quickly. Only increase your maximum bid if you are fully comfortable in doing so. Remember that it is ok to walk away, as most bottles I have walked away from have appeared in another auction within a year, and I’ve often got them cheaper.

5. At the end. At the end of the auction, if you have the highest bid, then you win the bottles. If an auction ends at 7pm, the auction extends by between 5-10 mins if there is a bid within a set time before the auction ends. This is to defeat sniping software and gives people the chance to up their bids. Depending on the site, some extend the whole auction until there is no new bids for 5 mins, and others only extend the auction for each individual bottle. So you may win a bottle, but other bottles are still availble for bidding. TOP TIP If you are desperate to win a bottle, sometimes it is better to bid, but keep your maximum bid right to the end – as people are usually only informed that they have been outbid by e-mail. Given the delays in the system, you can always put in a last minute bid, and hope that the person you are bidding against doesn’t have their email program running. This is a bit sneaky but is entirely within the rules of every auction site. However this may start a bidding war, so be careful!

6. Pay your bill. Not long after the auction ends, you will get a bill for your purchases. These often require payment within a week, but some of them require payment within 3 days.

Purchase Cheap Whisky

One of my favourite ways of getting new whisky to try, is to search the entire auction, but set the search results to display low to high prices. At the bottom end of the auction are usually the mass produced blends such as Famous Grouse or various blends used for export, and also miniatures. I’m a big fan of this method of bargain hunting, and usually go for the miniatures. This can work out a lot cheaper than buying the same whisky in a bar, and you can still get aged whisky as well – a recent purchase of Benrinnes Connoisseurs Choice miniatures included a 1968, 1972, 1973 and 1978. One caveat is that whisky sold in Scotland is subject to the minimum price laws, which dictate a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol. This has meant some auctioneers placing minimum initial bids to cover this.

Have Fun!

I have to say that I enjoy the excitement of an online auction, and if you follow this guide, you should remain safe. Of course, what you bid on is solely a matter of taste, but be sure not to exceed your limits. The time I got caught out, I bid over £1400 for a Glenfiddich only worth £500. I only got away with it as somebody else bid £1500. They didn’t pay, and claimed that their computer had been hacked. This was probably not the case, and it is more likely drunk bidding. So stay sober and just wait for your newly acquired drink to arrive!