Where to Buy Whisky at Auction

If you’re getting into whisky collecting, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with auctions, which are one of the best ways to get your hands on rare bottles. Start by learning the basics of navigating the auction process—it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

These are the leading whisky auction houses of the world. Each will deliver to the U.S. where state law permits. Be sure to check specific auction details for applicable taxes and be aware that terms and premiums can change.

Acker Merrall & Condit

Live and online wine auctions held on two continents with a track record of bringing fine quality Japanese bottlings to their catalogs.
Locations: New York and Hong Kong
Buyer’s Premium: 23.5%
Auction frequency: 15 wine auctions per year with up to 50 whisky lots per auction

Bonhams

Long-established live auction house with a considerable presence in Hong Kong that attracts a wealthy international clientele.
Locations: Hong Kong, Edinburgh, and occasionally New York
Buyer’s Premiums: 25% (Edinburgh), 22.5% (Hong Kong), 20% (New York)
Auction frequency: 6 per year in total, typically 150 lots in Edinburgh and 400 lots in Hong Kong

Christie’s

With 250 years in the business, Christie’s continues to offer exceptional service
to its clients, who are increasingly looking for antique bourbon, whisky, and fine wine.
Locations: New York and London
Buyer’s Premium: 22.5% in New York, 17.5% in London
Auction Frequency: bi-annually at both locations, typically 50-200 lots.

Hart Davis Hart

Major leading wine auction house with a regular supply of Scotch, Japanese, and American whiskies going under the hammer.
Location: Chicago
Buyer’s Premium: 19.5%
Auction frequency: 7 per year, live and online-only auctions, with 50-150 lots of whisky per auction

Just Whisky

A growing auction house that competes on low commissions and efficient customer service.
Location: Dunfermline, Scotland
Buyer’s Premium: 10%
Auction Frequency: 12 per year, run mid-month, ending on a Sunday night, typically 1,000–1,500 lots per month

McTear’s Auctioneers

A pioneer of the whisky auction scene, this independent auction house has handled many of the world’s top bottles.
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Buyer’s Premium: 23%
Auction frequency: 10 per year, auctions held every 6 weeks, typically 200-400 lots per auction

Poly Auction, Hong Kong

Boasting numerous record-breaking hammer prices, this state-owned Chinese auction house recently celebrated its 5th anniversary.
Location: Hong Kong
Buyer’s Premium: 18%
Auction frequency: 2 per year, usually April and October, typically 100–150 lots

Scotch Whisky Auctions

It’s huge! The largest whisky auction website by far, attracting more buyers and sellers than anywhere else. Expect up to 200 lots of American whiskeys every month.
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Buyer’s Premium: 10%
Auction frequency: 12 per year, ending on the first Monday of the month, typically 5,000–6,000 lots per month

Skinner Inc.

Dedicated and knowledgeable auction house with live and online sales of whisky, fine wine, and beer. Hard to find bourbons, ryes, and American single malts can be found here.
Location: Boston
Buyer’s Premium: 23%
Auction frequency: 2-3 per year, typically around 100 bottles at live auction and 300 at online-only auctions

Sotheby’s

Known for selling old masters, modern art, and fine wine, they occasionally sell whisky, most notably highly collectible Macallan.
Locations: New York and Hong Kong
Buyer’s Premium: 22.5%
Auction Frequency: Variable, but whisky is being offered more frequently, typically less than 50 high-value lots

Whisky Auctioneer

Easy to use website and headline-grabbing specialty auctions, such as the Karuizawa sale and the inaugural bottles of Strathearn. Often lists up to 100 American whiskeys in most auctions.
Location: Perth, Scotland
Buyer’s Premium: 10%
Auction Frequency: 12 per year, ending on a Monday night, typically 2,000–3,000 lots per month

Whisky Hammer

Run by two brothers who share a personal passion for whisky, this auction is growing in size and bringing in more high-value bottles.
Location: Ellon, Scotland
Buyer’s Premium: 10%
Auction Frequency: 12 per year, run at the end of the month, typically 300-500 lots per month

Whisky Online Auctions

Family-run business specializing in old and rare collectibles as well as regular auctions of 50 ml whisky miniatures.
Location: Blackpool, England
Buyer’s Premium: 15%
Auction Frequency: 12 per year, ending on the first Wednesday of the month, typically 800-1,000 lots per month

WhiskyAuction.com

The original whisky auction website, with superb photographic detail on every bottle. The costs include no buyer’s premium.
Location: Rendsburg, Germany
Buyer’s Premium: 0%
Auction Frequency: 11 per year, expect around 2,500 lots per auction

Whisky.Auction

Run by experienced whisky collectors, this site attracts high-priced Japanese whiskies and vintage spirits.
Location: London, England
Buyer’s Premium: 15%
Auction Frequency: 11 per year, ending on a Tuesday night at the start of the month, typically 600-1,000 lots per auction

Zachys

Specialists in fine wine auctions since 1994, they serve up a regular diet of live and e-auctions throughout the year.
Locations: New York and Hong Kong
Buyer’s Premium: 21%
Auction frequency: 35-40 wine auctions per year, with spirits playing a role in many, typically 20–150 lots

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