The Single Malt Fund Trading Company

31 July, 2023

2023 – Q2 Whisky Investment and Market Report

Welcome to the Q2 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

The standout news of Q2 came from Edrington, owners of The Macallan, Highland Park and The Glenrothes whiskies, who announced that, in the full year to March 31st, 2023, sales exceeded £1 billion for the first time. Uniquely, the group reported strong sales and growth in all key markets, notably China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the UK, Spain, and the US. LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods company and owner of Hennessy Cognac, Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, reported a more mixed picture, with positive news regarding recovery in China countered by less encouraging news elsewhere and especially in the US. “We’re definitely out of the zero-Covid period now. The page has turned,” LVMH chief financial officer Jean-Jacques Guiony told the Financial Times. “We expect this to continue, and we are very optimistic about the normalisation of the Chinese market.” However, “For the rest, the business is slowing down a bit,” he said. “Maybe interest rate rises are taking their toll on spending,” (LVMH). 

Challenges in the US, the number one spirits market in the world, was a theme for Remy Cointreau and Jose Cuervo, as well as LVMH, both of whom reported slower growths and, more importantly, pressure on profits, as price increases ahead of inflation proved impossible. Drinks Business reported on April 14th that credit card data from giant US bank Citi showed that luxury spending in March fell to the lowest monthly rate in nearly three years, down 18% as fewer people splashed out on high-end goods. The US comprised 37% of Diageo’s net sales in the six months to last Christmas and 28% of Pernod Ricard’s.

We have been reporting on Premiumisation that has been the buzz word for the industry for some time now. These reports from the US does raise the question as to the validity of such a strategy. However, we believe this is still the right priority in the mid to long term and that current headwinds will soften. Mark Meek, CEO, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, said in a recent report: “The key trends that have underpinned the industry, such as premiumisation, will evolve as consumers respond to the increased cost of living crisis. The industry will, however, still deliver pockets of significant value growth.” He noted that in mature markets, premiumisation “looks to be embedded into consumer purchasing behaviours”, although “at slower growth rates”. Pernod Ricard are certainly not changing tack on premiumisation, having announced in Q2 that they have sold their more mass market positioned Clan Campbell brand to Stock Spirits group, as part of their “active portfolio management” strategy, said Alexandre Ricard, chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard. One objective of this portfolio management is to open up greater opportunities for premiumisation.

Elsewhere, a recent study by Straits research reported that the alcoholic drinks market is projected to reach US$2,001 billion by 2031, with a CAGR of 2.5% from 2023 to 2031. The report outlined how “growth in the global population of young adults and the subsequent rise in demand for alcoholic beverages are the two main factors driving the world market” for alcoholic drinks. Also, “the consumption of luxury beverages has expanded as a result of its association with sophistication and class as a result of greater urbanisation”. According to the data, in the US, “the whiskey market is expected to grow by 3.2%”. 

In April, Master of Malt, the UK’s leading e commerce site, released its annual trends report on the spirit’s market. The growth of Asian spirits is one of the main trends, with whisky, liqueurs, shōchū, baijiu, and more from Japan, China, India, Taiwan, and Thailand all performing well. The big winner is Chinese baijiu, sales for which shot up by 91.5% in the last six months, compared with the six months previously. 

Regarding e commerce, Drinks Intel recently reported on the health of the spirits e commerce market, reporting that sales online may have softened after a 43% rise in 2020 during the Covid crisis, but that “online retailers and brands still predict a bright digital future;  “the e-commerce channel is expected to grow, adding $10bn to the alcohol beverage market between 2021 and 2026, according to the IWSR, and taking the sector’s market value to nearly $40bn across 16 focus markets.” The US and China will drive that growth. Back in the UK, our friends at Master of Malt reported a record year with a 30% improvement in EBIDTA in 2022. “We also had a 24-hour shipping record of more than 22,000 bottles going out. During December 2022, we shipped over 247,000 bottles by Christmas. These numbers support our feeling that people are really home-imbibing even though the on-trade has reopened. We still think people are enjoying drinks at home.” We agree wholeheartedly with this view. 

Back to premium whisky, Q2 also saw results published by Beamish International, with annual gross sales increasing from £15 million to £26 million. Beamish is a boutique, high-end cask agent, which sells casks of rare whisky to a clientele of ultra-high net worth individuals via several exclusive agreements with producers. This is the very top of the pyramid of rare whisky and, judging by these results, the demand for rare whisky remains high.  

At auction, the top end of the rare whisky market once again produced some mouthwatering highlights with Hong Kong and London vying for the headlines; in March, the world’s oldest Scotch, a Macallan 81-year-old, came up for sale at Sotheby’s, achieving a price of over US$ 600,000. In May, Christie’s Hong Kong showcased several prized Karuizawa lots, with the 36 views of Mount Fuji full set selling for over $150,000 being the highlight. Back in London, Sotheby’s sold a Bowmore Arc-52 Mokume edition for over £150,000, while Christie’s had a lot of The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars collection which sold for £500,000.

So, at the very top end, the major auction houses continue to deliver impressive results. Overall, however, the UK auction market remains slightly soft. The Rare Whisky 101 Apex 1000, the barometer of the UK auction market for rare whisky bottles, declined by -0.5% in Q2 following a decline of -0.8% in Q1. It should be noted though, that the first half of the year 2022 was very strong, with growth of 5.2% in Q1 and a further 3.9% in Q2 (total 9.1% in first half). We do not believe that the 2023 results should be the cause of too much concern. It must be remembered that rare whisky continues to get rarer, while demand continues to grow. Perhaps there has been a softening in the short term, but the fundamentals remain, which should mean this period could be viewed as a strong buying opportunity. 

What is clear, as we have been saying for some time, is that the demand for the different brands continues to vary from quarter to quarter. This may be due to brand awareness, new consumers coming into auction market, changing tastes, tactical purchasing, or one-off sales of certain bottles, it is very hard to say for sure. Over the past 18 months, we see that some brands have had dramatic swings in sales growth from one quarter to another, while others have had a steadier path. Balvenie, Caol Ila, Highland Park and Springbank are worth mentioning as the only brands that have taken last years growth and continued an upward trend this year. Highland Park is the big winner so far in 2023 with a 12% increase on the back of a 3% improvement last year. As we move into the second half, we believe we will see growth return overall but that the adage that “rising tides lift all boats” will continue to be challenged.

Rare Whisky Q2 2023 results




RW Apex 1000 -0.8% -0.5% -1.3%
RW Icon 100 -1.8% -3.5% -5.3%
Japan 100 2.2% -1.6% 0.6%
Single Grain -0.5% 3.6% 3.0%
Ardbeg -0.6% -4.2% -4.7%
Balvenie -4.3% 5.1% 0.6%
Bowmore -2.2% 0.7% -1.6%
Brora -4.3% -0.6% -4.9%
Bruichladdich 3.1% -4.6% -1.6%
Bunnahabhain 0.4% 4.4% 4.8%
Caol Ila 0.7% 1.0% 1.7%
Clynelish 1.1% 2.6% 3.8%
Dalmore 3.2% -2.0% 1.1%
Karuizawa 1.2% -1.3% 0.1%
Glendronach 3.5% -8.0% -11.2%
Glenfarclas -17.5% -0.3% -17.7%
Glenfiddich 0.3% -4.9% -4.6%
Glenlivet 0.8% -8.5% -9.3%
Glenmorangie 5.4% -8.0% -3.0%
Highland Park 0.8% 10.7% 11.6%
Lagavulin 0.1% 1.7% 1.8%
Laphroaig -2.0% -5.5% -7.5%
Macallan -0.4% -8.0% -8.4%
Port Ellen -2.0% -5.0% -6.9%
Rosebank 0.8% -2.9% -2.1%
Springbank 0.1% 3.7% 3.8%
Talisker -3.6% -4.2% -7.6%
Yamazaki -1.0% -2.9% -3.9%

The Single Malt Fund Trading Activities in Q2 2023

We continue to build at with the number of customers up 33% to end June. 

On the product side, we added 50 more skus to the site in the second quarter of 2023, brining the total up to 476 by end June. This compares to 351 at the end of 2022. With this, we continue to broaden the appeal of the site and encourage new customers to visit. 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our suppliers and partners for all their support as we move forward with increasing confidence into the second half of the year. 


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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