A MAN who spent decades collecting thousands of miniature bottles of whisky has made a mint after selling them as auction.
Brian Marshall from Kettering, Northamptonshire, amassed the collection over 40 years – but doesn't even like the drink.
He's collected minis of the spirit from around the world, including America, Iraq, Uruguay and Australia, despite admitting he found the taste "horrible."
He put the 4,000-strong hoard of booze under the hammer after moving home as he no longer had space for the 130 boxes.
Mr Marshall expected to make between £7,000 and £8,000 for the rare collection, which includes several hard-to-find items.
But he made nearly three times that amount. The sale landed him "a very pleasant Christmas bonus" of £29,750.
He said: "But I never had any aim in mind, I don't even like the stuff.
"I'm delighted that my bottles have now gone on to new collectors and I hope they will enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed collecting them."
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Rare bottles in the booze line up include one commemorating the 35th anniversary of Private Eye Magazine created by Scotch makers Macallan, fetching £340.
A rare boxset of four miniatures made by Springbank distillery in Scotland sold for £1,054.
Two sets commemorating Manchester United's 1968 European Cup win sold for £161 and £130 each.
And a rare book about the brown liquid called The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom' by Alfred Barnard was snapped up for £2,280.
Mr Marshall said he bought the whisky guide, which details every distillery in the UK and describes techniques and methods of the late Victorian period, at a car boot sale for just £5.
I plan my holidays around collecting whisky
He said: "It's incredible to think that [the book] sold for so much now.
"A fiver is quite pricey for a car boot sale book, but the seller insisted because it was a hardback so I said I could stretch to it.
"I took a whole box of whisky books to the charity shop a few months ago so I'm wondering if I should have done that now."
Mr Marshall was inspired to start collecting in the 1980s by someone he worked with.
He added: "A friend from work at Kettering Crematorium who was collecting full-size bottles suggested I collect miniatures and it started from there.
"But it took on a life of its own because I started planning my holidays in Scotland around it.
"But when my mates asked why I collect whisky miniatures when I don't even like the taste, I used to say, 'well you buy cigarettes and at the end of the week all you have is a pile of ash, but I have my beautiful bottles to look at'."
Will Gilding, director at Gildings Auctioneers in Market Harborough and a wine and spirits expert, said: "Brian's incredible collection really did offer a unique opportunity for collectors, and we're delighted to have achieved such a great result for him.
"The 35th anniversary bottling for Private Eye selling for £340 was an eye-watering result, but all of the Macallans in the auction averaged just shy of £150 per bottle.
"As well as the Springbank set, other highlights were a Clynelish 1965 vintage, 25-year-old making £192 and a Talisker 1955 vintage making £161.
"As is often the way with the single malt whisky market, particular interest was shown in the ever-popular Island distilleries, such as Talisker, Laphraoig, and Port Ellen, alongside the silent distilleries -those that are now closed – like Killyloch from the Lowlands."
Top tips for collecting whisky
Macallan is the most popular whisky among collectors according to a report from Rare Whisky 101.
Ardbeg , Bowmore, Highland Park and Laphroaig are in the top five based on the number and value of whisky's sold at auction last year.
A whisky experts previously told The Sun the spirit is considered a safe investment, because even in the worst case, you'll usually be able to sell a bottle at the same price you bought it in the first place.
Though as with any investment, there's no guarantees and you should never invest money you can't afford to lose.
Your average bottle of booze from the local off-licence or supermarket is unlikely to be worth any more than you paid, even if kept unopened for some time.
It is the rare bottles and special editions (like the one produced especially for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee) that you should look out for.
Martin Green, whisky specialist at auction house Bonhams, said: "It’s important to stress that the market for whisky at auction is for single malts not blended whisky, which only features at auction if there is something exceptional about it.
"Reputation for quality, scarcity and exclusivity are very important when it comes to single malt whisky.
Many leading distillers produce special limited editions of their very finest whisky, which become collectors’ items."
The bottles you should watch for fall into four categories: the recently awarded whiskies, official bottles from popular distilleries, the discontinued bottles, or the ones that are not discontinued yet but will become harder to find soon.
The trick, according to the experts, is to identify fairly-priced limited edition bottles that are likely to rise in value once sold out.
Don't forget that there are costs involved too, along with the initial outlay of buying the bottles like storing them and insuring them if they are worth a lot.
There may be fees associated with selling at auction and you may have to pay capital gains tax on profit you make.
Top tips for selling whisky collections
Here are some tips from experts on how to get the most out of your tipple:
- Be patient: Wait for the right moment to buy or sell your booze.
- Do your research: To make good revenue it's important you understand whisky and become a bit of an expert. You have to make the right choices and know what you're buying in the first place.
- Where to start: Whisky Onlineand RareWhiskySite101 are among a number of websites looking to buy old and rare whiskies so make sure you take a look at them before buying or selling.
People can also check more generalist whisky information websites such as scotchwhisky.com, Whisky Advocate or The Spirits Business – or subscribe to Whisky Magazine. Anne-Sophie also has her own website where she blogs about whisky: thewhiskylady.net.
- Keep the bottle in good conditions: Make sure you keep the boxes and keep your bottles in good condition. Whisky does not need the cool, cellar-like conditions often required for wines. But it needs to be kept at a constant level at room temperature and upright avoiding contact between the cork and the tipple inside. The value can drop dramatically if there is damage to the bottle or labelling or if the fill level drops, showing poor closing and evaporation.
It's not just rare drinks that can mean you're quids in.
You could earn hundreds of pounds from selling old toys and games, including Monopoly and Lego.
Rare Pokémon cards from McDonalds's were sold for hundreds of pounds on eBay.
Even rare computer games can go for way more than their original purchase price. A Super Mario game sold for a whoppingl £1million earlier this year.
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