The Single Malt Fund Trading Company

2 May, 2023

2023 – Q1 Whisky Investment and Market Report

Welcome to the Q1 2023 Single Malt Fund Trading Ltd report, where we comment on the latest developments in the rare whisky as well as broader industry markets and give an update on our trading operations. 

Industry news

There was a flurry of reports from the top spirits groups in Q1, with one overriding theme dominating all of them: Premiumisation. We and the rest of the industry have been talking about how the increasing demand and short supply of aged whisky, coupled with consumers’ behaviour leaning more and more towards drinking better quality spirits at home, is resulting in brands putting greater emphasis on the premium sector. The reports in Q1 suggest that this is now an established norm and, more importantly for the trade, it is paying off. 

Pernod Ricard, in their 6 months to end Dec 22 results, released in Feb, announced that Super Premium brands now represent 42% of sales. Premium brands making up a further 37% of sales. This led to organic growth of 12% for the period.  Beam Suntory reported that, in their full year 2022, Premium-plus spirits are now more than half of their sales. The +15% growth “reflected our strategy to premiumize our spirits portfolio and focus on value over volume”. Diageo, in their 6 months to end Dec report, revealed that Premium-plus brands drove 65% of their organic net sales growth (+9.4%), while Moet Hennessey, owned by the number 1 luxury goods company in the world, LVMH, announced net sales growth of 19% for the full year 2022. 

As the Drinks Business reported in February, “everyone is playing the Premiumisation game”.  

The other trend we have reported on in recent times, which seems to be gaining momentum, is the growth of the Irish Whiskey market. We have heard that Irish Whiskey is set to overtake Scotch in the US by 2030. To add to this story, IMARC, a market research company is forecasting the Irish Whiskey category to grow by a CAGR of 7.44% between 2023 and 2028, to reach US$7.5 billion, up from US$4.7 billion in 2022. Irish whiskey is hot right now and is expected to remain so for quite some time as the giants increase market share and more and more of the new generation of distilleries bring their own liquid to market.

India has been in the news recently, as the industry speculates on what an opening up of the US$36 billion spirits market could mean. An expected UK trade deal is widely estimated to add a potential US$ 1 billion to exports of scotch. Contrary to popular belief, India is not just a mass market brand for cheap blends. Diageo reported in Q1 that, 72% of its US$ 1.2 billion in net sales in India comes from premium brands. We wait with bated breath.

E commerce is a category that, for obvious reasons, we look at very closely, and it remains clear that consumers across the globe are increasingly benefiting from the convenience of buying their alcoholic drinks online. The US, of course, is leading the way.  MikMak, the leading e-commerce acceleration platform released the MikMak Shopping Index 2023 Alcohol E-Commerce Benchmarks and Insights Report, which outlines key behaviours of alcohol shoppers in the US. Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of MikMak, said: “Alcohol pandemic. Despite a shift back to pre-pandemic purchasing habits, alcohol e-commerce sales are still strong and growing.” According to MikMak, e commerce alcohol sales are expected to reach US$40bn in the US by 2026. To add to this, Drinks Business reported on Jan 10th that the number 1 US Distributor, Southern Glazer Wines and Spirits, passed US$ 3 billion in revenue in 2022. There is no reason why such trends will not spread across the globe as brands look more and more to the digital channel and consumers continue to demand the convenience of having their bottles delivered to their door.

Rare Whisky Q4 results

The Rare Whisky 101 Apex 1000, the barometer of the UK auction market for rare whisky bottles, declined for the third quarter in succession by 0.8% in Q1. This was an improvement on the Q4 numbers which may suggest a corner has been turned. At the top end of the market, the RW Icon 100, recovered from -10% in Q4 to -1.8% in Q1, while the Japan 100 is back in positive territory with growth of +2.2%.

From a brand perspective, it was a mixed bag. Thankfully, there were more brands in positive territory than not, with Glenmorangie the winner with a growth of 5.4%. However, The Macallan, the dominant player, did slip below last year by -0.4%. The big standout brand, for the wrong reasons, was Glenfarclas with a double-digit decline of -17.5%.  

The word on the street is that this drop in the auction prices in recent quarters is more of a temporary correction due to more macro-economic reasons, as opposed to a fundamental decline in demand for rare and collectible whisky. It may be a while before we see the heady heights of $1 million + bottles of The Macallan again, but rare whisky is only getting rarer and consumer interest shows no sign of slowing down. What is more, the big auction houses reported some very impressive results at the very premium end of the market in Q1.

2022 2023
Index Q3 Q4 YTD Q1
RW Apex 1000 -0.6% -1.7% 6.9% -0.8%
RW Icon 100 -3.2% -10.0% 1.0% -1.8%
Japan 100 3.0% -4.1% 11.8% 2.2%
Single Grain 0.2% 0.0% 0.8% -0.5%
Ardbeg 0.9% -4.1% 6.1% -0.6%
Balvenie 19.3% 3.5% 20.5% -4.3%
Bowmore 1.3% -1.3% 2.5% -2.2%
Brora -11.0% 1.1% -0.1% -4.3%
Bruichladdich -8.6% -8.1% 8.9% 3.1%
Bunnahabhain -2.8% -11.9% -3.4% 0.4%
Caol Ila -7.0% -1.7% 1.7% 0.7%
Clynelish -1.9% 2.9% -0.3% 1.1%
Dalmore -0.9% -1.2% -6.3% 3.2%
Karuizawa 5.5% -4.1% 25.0% 1.2%
Glendronach 12.4% 3.5% 29.8% 3.5%
Glenfarclas 6.2% -6.4% -0.5% -17.5%
Glenfiddich 2.6% -4.9% -1.1% 0.3%
Glenlivet 0.9% 1.9% 3.2% 0.8%
Glenmorangie -5.1% -0.7% -2.6% 5.4%
Highland Park -0.2% -2.5% 3.0% 0.8%
Lagavulin -1.1% -6.7% -6.0% 0.1%
Laphroaig -6.6% 3.9% 6.8% -2.0%
Macallan 5.9% -11.0% 10.7% -0.4%
Port Ellen 2.5% -18.7% -10.0% -2.0%
Rosebank -5.5% -7.8% -13.2% 0.8%
Springbank 2.1% -0.1% 8.6% 0.1%
Talisker 2.6% -4.6% 20.5% -3.6%
Yamazaki 6.8% -3.6% 55.2% -1.0%

Auction Update

Sotheby’s, the most premium global auctioneer of rare whisky have held a few sales so far this year across their main international hubs. These were notable for some very
eye catching lots of premium Japanese bottlings, which commanded impressive prices;

  • Hong Kong April 5th (technically Q2 but hot off the press); a bottle of Yamazaki 50- year-old first edition sold for HK$ 4,750,000 or c US$608,000
  • Paris March 14th; a bottle of Yamazaki 55-year-old sold for €400,000 
  • Hong Kong March 7th; a collection of four bottles of Karuizawa single cask Toulouse Lautrec sold for HK$ 325,000 or US$42,000

The Single Malt Fund Trading Activities in Q4 2022

Q1 tends to be quiet for whisky retail, but we at have been busy. Traffic to the site is more than double the same period last year. Not only that, but visitors spent more than 70% more time on the site than they did in 2022 which is a very positive sign. This has translated into orders, with more than double the number of customers versus Q1 last year, and almost 2.5 x the number of orders. 

We have spent a lot of Q1 investing in site optimization, which has resulted in speed increasing from 32% to 73% of speed potential. On top of that, we have added a new checkout which includes Apple Pay, soon to be joined by Google Pay. You can now buy your drams in a few seconds with a simple double click on your phone!

On the product side, we added 75 new skus to the site in the first quarter of 2023, launching brands like Bruichladdich and Tullamore Dew for the first time. The highlight was the much-awaited annual release of Midleton Very Rare. We were very grateful to our friends at Irish Distillers, who gave us a significantly larger allocation of bottles, but, as usual, they sold out in a couple of days! 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our suppliers and partners for all their support as we move forward into our second full year of trading. 


Ed Forrest
Managing Director – The Single Malt Fund Trading Ltd.

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27 July, 2022

Yellow Spot single cask

The first ever Yellow Spot Single Cask. Harking back to the golden age of Irish Whiskey bonding, with 13 years in bourbon and re-casked into a Malaga cask. A nose of sweet cherries, vanilla and honeycomb, that leads into a silky palate of orchard fruits, treacle and delicate chocolate. A long warming finish. Simply wonderful.

27 July, 2022

Glenallachie Billie Walker 50th anniversary release

In celebration of Master Distiller Billy Walker’s half-century long career in the whisky industry, we are delighted to unveil the first in The Past, Present and Future Series: The GlenAllachie 50th Anniversary Past Edition.

27 July, 2022

Talisker 25-year-old

Shaped by ancient terrain, our volcanic nature reveals a new facet, every time the elements hit. Talisker 25 Year Old invites you to taste the earthy richness over and over as an enduring power echoes. A limited edition offering which makes the perfect gift or toast to a special occasion.

27 July, 2022

The Macallan Sherry Oak 25 years old

The Macallan Sherry Oak 25 years old forms part of our Sherry Oak range which features a series of single malt whiskies matured in hand-picked sherry seasoned oak casks from Jerez for richness and complexity. This special single malt delivers an intensely rich and full flavour character, citrus, dried fruits and wood smoke.

27 July, 2022

Glen Scotia 46 Year Old

The 46 year old marks our oldest release to date, with only 150 individually numbered bottles available worldwide. Originally laid down in refill bourbon casks. The finest have been carefully selected and re-casked in first-fill bourbon, before being finished in a single first-fill oloroso hogshead.

29 April, 2022

The GlenDronach 18YO Allardice

Named after the distillery founder this Highland whisky was matured in Oloroso casks and is another fine example of the sherry complexity that GlenDronach excels in.

Check availability at

29 April, 2022

Midleton Very Rare 2022

Combining whiskey aged between 12 and 33 years this Midleton Very Rare 2022 is the latest release from the pinnacle collection in Irish Whiskey. With delicate floral notes and vanilla on the nose, the palate releases caramelised apples and orange zest. The soft oak finish leaves you wanting more.

Check availability at

29 April, 2022

Caol Ila 24 YO 175th Anniversary

To celebrate the 175th anniversary of the opening of the distillery, this limited edition 24 year old Caol Ila has aromas that remind you of a campfire along with subtle spice notes. The palate is honied with light smoke.

Check availability at

9 August, 2021

Brora Triptych

Brora Triptych is a truly special one – assembling a set of the three eras that epitomise Brora. Each liquid a celebration of restoration and an ode to the rare characteristics that define Brora whisky; waxy, peated and earthy. A collection of three vintages that define Brora never before released at once, this is a true collector’s piece.

9 August, 2021

Suntory Hibiki 30 Years Old

Suntory shines again! Of all the Hibiki bottles, the Hibiki 30 Years Old is the cream of the crop. It was awarded at the International Spirits Challenge in 2004, 2006, and 2008, and received the coveted title of “World’s Best Blended Whisky” at the World Whiskies Award in 2007 and 2008. Comprising of grain and malt whiskies aged for 30 years and over, a dram doesn’t get much better than this.

9 August, 2021

Midleton Silent Distillery 46 Year Old

The second release in the Midleton Very Rare Silent Distillery Collection is a 46-year-old single pot still Irish whiskey distilled in 1973 and matured in a single third-fill bourbon barrel. Aromas of apples, pears, lemon, oak spice, hazelnuts and worn leather fill the nose, complemented by notes of sweet red berries, star anise, ginger, malt and grapefruit throughout the palate and lingering in the finish.

30 April, 2021

Littlemill 29YO

Littlemill 29-year-old is the third release from the Private Cellar Collection, each crafted by Master Blender Michael Henry in Littlemill’s traditional Lowland ‘floral’ style. This latest release places emphasis on developing the wood character and only 600 bottles will be released across the world.

30 April, 2021

Karuizawa Noh 1981

Karuizawa is the gold standard of rare Japanese whisky. The distillery closed its doors in 2011, although it had not been producing whisky for over a decade. This bottle from the Noh series is from a single cask, distilled in 1981 and bottled 31 years later from single sherry butt #348. A very rare Karuizawa, with only 207 bottles ever released.

30 April, 2021

Glen Scotia 30 Year Old

Glen Scotia has gone and released another well-matured Campbeltown single malt – this time, they’ve bottled up an excellent 30 year old expression! It was drawn from European oak casks and bottled up at cask strength, with only 500 bottles produced. Incredible stuff from a marvellous distillery.

30 April, 2021

1988 Middleton Very Rare

The Midleton Very Rare series is incredibly popular with collectors and many are seeking to complete an entire range with every year spanning 1984 to the present day. Some vintages are harder to find than other. None more so than 1988, which is the real unicorn amongst Midleton Very Rares.

31 January, 2021

Black Bowmore 1964

The third of the three extraordinary Oloroso cask 1964 Bowmores released in the mid-1990s, this final batch was of 1812 bottles. With an almost unfathomable concentration and intensity of flavour, and with the perfect balance of fruit, peat and power, this whisky deserves the frequently overused ‘legendary’ tag and has assumed almost mythic status amongst whisky collectors and aficionados.

31 January, 2021

The Macallan 1984 18 YO Sherry Oak

An old, classic presentation of the 18-year-old Macallan, distilled in 1984 and exclusively matured in sherry oak casks from Jerez de la Frontera, this one’s a beaut. Bottled at 43%, the desirable vintage showcases plenty of sherry influence, as expected, as well as signature Speyside notes.

31 January, 2021

Port Ellen 1978 2nd release

The second in Diageo’s series of annual Port Ellen bottlings, using the remaining stocks of this closed distillery. 12000 bottles were released in 2002 as a 24 year old whisky. Clean, sweet, powerful and smoky, this another classic Port Ellen expression that has a delicacy and less oaky style than other contemporary Islays.

31 January, 2021

The Dalmore Constellation Collection

A series of 21 vintage Single Cask Whiskies created in the Highland distillery between the years 1964 and 1992, and bottled at natural cask strengh.

31 January, 2021

Mortlach 35 Year Old 1936 – Connoisseurs Choice

A rare 35 year old Mortlach that was distilled in 1936 and bottled by Gordon & MacPhail as part of their Connoisseurs Choice range in the early 1970’s and this was an Italian import bottling.

31 January, 2021

Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Bourbon

Distilled in the spring and fall of 1989 and stored on lower levels of a metal warehouse built in 1935 at the Van Winkle family distillery. In 2002 the barrels found a new home at Buffalo Trace and in 2014 the juice was dumped into stainless steel tanks to halt the aging process. And now, it’s ready for release. But only 11 barrels made the full trip, resulting in a mere 710 bottles.

31 January, 2021

The Glenfarclas Family cask collection

A custom-made cabinet in the form of a travel trunk, this extremely-limited collection contains fifty 200ml bottles, sampling every single Glenfarclas Family Cask vintage from 1954 until 2003.

31 January, 2021

Yamazaki 50 Year Old

Matured in the finest Japanese mizunara oak casks, the 50 year old is thought to be the oldest expression available from the distillery, which was established in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii.

16 November, 2020

Midleton Dair Ghaelach Bluebell Forest Tree 6

Composed of Single Pot Still whiskey between 12-23 years old and matured initially in American oak barrels. This gorgeous whiskey is finished in native virgin Irish oak casks. These casks have been sourced from Bluebell Forest, Castle Blunden Estate in County Kilkenny. Every bottle can be traced back to one of six different 130 year old Irish oak trees that were sustainably felled.

16 November, 2020

Midleton Very Rare 2018

The 2018 edition of the Midleton Very Rare vintages is a luscious whiskey and it comes in the new and suitably lavish packaging and bottle. Smooth, with notes of vanilla and fruit, it has a rich spicy pot still finish. Yet another fine example of the stunning quality coming out of Irelands leading distillery.

16 November, 2020

Midleton Very Rare 2017

From the most sought after collection in Irish whiskey comes this 2017 edition of the Midleton Very Rare Vintages. It comes in the last of the old- style packaging. It is a complex fruity whiskey, that culminates with a long spicy finish, a true pot still character.

16 November, 2020

Redbreast 27

After nearly 3 decades resting in casks that once held bourbon, sherry and ruby port comes the oldest ever release from Redbreast whiskey. The brand that continues to win the most prestigious awards for Irish whiskey has now created a stunningly rich and intense pot still whiskey. One of the pinnacles of whiskey from the island of Ireland.

16 November, 2020

Midleton Very Rare 1973 30 Year Old

Released in 2003 as a limited edition aged in three types of barrels- American oak, oloroso sherry butts, and port pipes. This special edition was carefully assembled by former master distiller Barry Crockett from some of the last remaining pot still whiskys from the Old Midleton Distillery. Only 800 bottles were made available.

We have secured the last remaining bottles from Irish Distillers, of this Midleton release.

16 November, 2020

Midleton 20th Anniversary Bottling

This is a commemorative edition issued on the 20th anniversary of the launch of the flagship Midleton Very Rare whisky. It is bottled at cask strength. The bottle comes with two crystal glasses with which to enjoy your whisky. Only 400 bottles were produced.

We have secured the last remaining bottles from Irish Distillers, of this Midleton release.

16 November, 2020

Dalmore 35 Year Old and Dalmore 40 Year Old

Thanks to our friends at Whyte & Mackay, we have taken up their offer of a few of these rare bottlings of this iconic distillery. 

Released in 2016 and bottled at 40% abv, Dalmore 35 has aged in a Bourbon barrel, a Matusalem Sherry butt, and a colheita Port pipe.  

Dalmore 40, released in 2017 from the Highland distillery has matured in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, before aging further in 30-year-old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Sherry butts. The whisky was then finished in first-fill Bourbon barrels.

French crystal house Baccarat was enlisted to design the hand-blown decanters, each decorated with The Dalmore’s 12-point stag emblem, which was created by Royal Warrant holders Hamilton & Inches.

These bottles are highly sought after by collectors world-wide.

The Single Malt Fund AB (publ)

Business ID: 559118-4949

ISIN: SE0010547299

AIF-Trustee: Finserve Nordic AB

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