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Issue 132 - Can Live Auctions Adapt?

Whisky Magazine Issue 132
December 2015


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Can Live Auctions Adapt?

The need to compete with online is compelling

Live whisky auctions have been affected as a consequence of the success of online whisky auctions. There have been winners and losers on both sides, especially in the UK. Some new online auction houses have struggled to attract vendors. Yet, live whisky auction operations require premises open to the public, viewing days, charismatic auctioneers, and alluring high-quality printed catalogues.

Early on, it became clear that online was more favourable for flipping new releases, with only a fraction of this trade going to traditional auction houses. Only a year or two ago, prestigious big ticket items from Bowmore, The Macallan, and Glenfiddich had maintained a solid presence in live auctions; perhaps vendors respected their long established relationships with the traditional auction houses, or there was trepidation that buyers would not be willing to spend five or ten thousands pounds for a bottle image on a screen. Now this lucrative market is switching rapidly, ebbing away from the traditional salerooms. Noticeably, some live auctions are attracting relatively fewer lots of quality collectibles, with growing proportions of sales comprising mixed lots. What will they do to innovate, modify, and adapt to keep us engaged in live auctions in 2016


Let's pick out some beauties that have performed well in UK live auctions then, shall we? McTear's produced £1,100 for a bottle of Glenmorangie 1993 Truffle Oak Reserve. Many of these limited experimental Glenmorangie fi...

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