Even though the rise in rare whisky prices has been well documented, it’s our specialist miniature auctions that have become the secret massive hit. So why do big people love tiny things?
Miniature collecting was at its peak 20 years ago, then the hobby appeared to be going out of fashion. Values fell and collectors, who would not dream of drinking their prized whisky miniatures, were unwilling to sell to an unappreciative market. Vast collections lay dormant. Then, just at the point when miniature collecting was at its most unfashionable something happened. A new generation of whisky enthusiasts looking to taste the great whiskies of the past began collecting not just whisky, but whisky experiences. Traditional miniature collectors were now the unexpected heroes. They had inadvertently created a sort of mass observation project of whisky, each diligently archiving a unique corner of our whisky heritage. It is likely that there are whiskies in these collections that might otherwise have disappeared. Minis made a comeback and we’ve seen collectors driving up prices ever since.
A miniature whisky is the opportunity to taste a piece of history. Some historic editions of whiskies and spirits have become inaccessible for many enthusiasts to buy in standard 70cl or 75cl format. Whisky from closed distilleries or highly rated limited editions can be eye wateringly expensive, but the starting bids for miniatures at Whisky.Auction is just £2. Equally, bidders are willing to pay what seems like lot of money for mini whiskies because they will never be able to experience a full sized bottle.
One part of the appeal of miniature bottles is the daintiness of these scaled down versions. You could put these miniatures in a dolls house if you wanted. Particularly admired are the aesthetics of bottles from the early to mid-20th century. Like miniature Fabergé eggs, the craftsmanship within the compact construction of a miniature whisky bottle can be remarkable.
It was Irish whiskey maker John Power & Son that in 1889 became the first spirits company to produce miniature bottles. However, the boom time for minis was not until the late 1920s and 1930s, when the reduced availability of spirits and their dramatic increase in price prompted producers to introduce miniatures of their brands. In a difficult market, the tiny bottles allowed brand owners to continue to access, and sell to, a wider range of consumers.
Then, after the Second World War, with the growth of travel and tourism, miniatures became charming souvenirs and many collections began with a coach trip to a distillery.
However, the more recent renaissance of the appreciation of minis has not been matched by increased production. Spare a thought for the brands who do continue to make them. These minis are expensive to produce. In terms of raw materials, the volumes might be smaller, but the quantity of parts needed to produce a miniature bottle are the same as that of a full sized bottle.
At Whisky.Auction we welcome miniature whiskies and spirits as well as memorabilia and books. Here’s what we do and don’t accept at our #massivemini auctions:
Which Miniatures Do You Accept?
We specialise in whisky miniatures and we accept all miniatures bottles of Scotch whisky, American whiskey, Japanese whisky, world whisky, gin, spirits and liqueurs that have their original tamper evident closure intact.
What Is A Miniature?
Good question! Miniatures usually contain 5cl of liquid but some are even smaller. We accept all sizes that are smaller than 20cl.
Any bottles that are 20cl or larger and all standard sized bottles go into our regular monthly specialist spirits auction.
What Are The Best Miniatures To Sell?
While we try to accept most miniatures in our auction there are some miniatures that are worth more than others.
Our buyers are always on the lookout for rare bottlings, limited editions, closed distilleries and historic miniatures.
It’s also true to say that some distilleries and brands are simply worth more than others. Fashions change and prices fluctuate but in the end the whiskies with the biggest and best reputations are consistently the ones that are in most demand.
Does The Fill Level Matter?
Sadly miniatures can suffer from the effects of evaporation over time. A good fill level is ideal. A lower fill level will affect the value of any bottle. However experienced bidders already know what levels to expect from different bottles so a mini with a low level could still attract high bids.
We may not accept submissions if the liquid in a bottle has ‘turned’ in some way. For instance if a whisky is cloudy or a liqueur has curdled.
Do You Accept Plastic Bottles?
We cannot accept plastic bottles. We only accept glass bottles and ceramic decanters. If you’re unsure if a miniature is suitable email us a picture and we’ll be happy to advise.
What Else Do You Accept?
Collectors of whisky memorabilia regularly bid on our mini auctions and Whisky.Auction is the best place to sell whisky and spirits memorabilia.
We’ve seen a growing demand for specialist whisky books and we accept all spirits books and magazines and many wine books too.
Decanters and antique glassware are among our best sellers, in fact there is a lot you can sell, for instance high quality branded hipflasks, wallets, pens and other novelty promotional material.
It’s worth getting in touch for a valuation if you’re not sure what memorabilia we accept.
Do You Accept Trade And Press Samples?
We do accept promotional miniatures that are surplus to requirements. There is a high demand from collectors and enthusiasts for promotional material and high profile bottlings.
As with all other bottles we only accept trade samples that have their original tamper proof closure.
In cases of recent limited release bottlings we may restrict acceptance of trade samples.
Can I Sell For Charity?
We also auction whisky and spirits donated by generous individuals to raise money for charities and you also get to choose which charity you’d like to support.
Whether you’re selling miniature bottles, promotional The Macallan or ceramic Bell’s decanters if you are just trying to clear out your whisky clutter and would like to give to charity you can make a huge difference.
For more information on extra special terms when you donate a bottle to a registered charity just contact us and we’ll talk you through the easy steps.