The valuation process itself, says Campbell, is exactly the same as with wine and whisky, or what he describes as, “Part scientific, part instinctive.”
“It’s an analysis of current market demand with considerations being retail availability, the performance of the same bottles in recent auctions, and expectations or assumptions made for market changes. Certainly Cognac, Armagnac, and rum lead the field in terms of prices achieved for non-whiskies. Even fairly modest brandies from the 1960s and 1970s are achieving prices approximately triple what their modern-day equivalents sell for in primary retail,” Campbell remarks.
“Limited edition releases, single-cask bottlings, natural cask strength versions, and really old spirits exist in these categories just as they do for whisky, and inflate prices accordingly.” Drawing additional parallels between the wine and whisky auction market, it’s clear that a spirit’s vintage often plays a significant part in its value at auction. “We saw a bottle of Chartreuse dating back to around 1912 sell for £2,500 (US$3,388),” Campbell recalls. “Any spirit that pre-dates the First World War will always perform really well at our auctions. They spark a lot of interest with a niche group of collectors.”
“Dark rum is also gaining a lot of attention right now, with one particular distillery shining above the rest – Caroni. It closed for good in 2003, so their stock has slowly started to gain value over the last decade. We recently saw a bottle hit £2,650 (US$3,592).”