Name: Iain McClune.

Age: 33.

What is your business called?

Whisky Auctioneer Ltd.

Where is it based?

Perth, Scotland.

What services does it offer?

Online auctions specialising in fine, old and rare whisky. In addition, we launched Wine Auctioneer in 2017, offering the same services for fine and rare wines and in August 2019 launched Rum Auctioneer.

Alongside our auctioneering services we also have a drinks production company, Bright Spirits Ltd. This was launched in 2018 and we have produced a range of three flavour driven gins, Peels, Pips and Roots with further products in development.

To whom does it sell?

Our auctioneering services are used globally with our key markets being the UK, Europe, US and Asia.

Our customers can use our services in order to explore and gain access to a wide range of rare and unusual bottles. Their motivations can include collecting or investing as well as of course drinking and appreciating whiskies from around the world.

What is its turnover?

£30 million. We charge a percentage commission to our buyers and sellers.

How many employees?


When was it formed?

October 2013.

Why did you take the plunge?

My own enjoyment of whisky led me to work at Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Whiskies, where I stayed for ten years. The avenues through which to buy and sell whisky were fairly limited at that time, traditional auction houses featured whisky occasionally and a couple of online whisky auction sites were operating. I felt there was an opening for a UK-based online auction site, specialising in fine, old, rare and collectable whisky and so the idea for Whisky Auctioneer was born.

I worked closely with an IT firm to design a bespoke website, which took some time but as an online business it was vital that our site offered the auction functionality that we needed.

We started operations in a two-room basement office in Perth and held our inaugural auction of 163 lots at the end of 2013. Two years on our monthly auctions had grown to 2,000+ lots and we were looking for a new warehouse that could accommodate this increase in bottle numbers and our growing team. Today our auctions feature in the region of 6,000 to 7,000 lots.

The subsequent creation of Wine Auctioneer and Rum Auctioneer was prompted by the high levels of demand for buying and selling these products through Whisky Auctioneer. It felt like a simple and accessible platform for selling wine and rum online was missing and we were ideally placed to offer a solution.

My passion for spirits has naturally led me to want to produce my own through Bright Spirits Ltd. The combination of having a Msc Brewing and Distilling qualification from Heriot-Watt University and a long history working within the spirits industry gave me a clear understanding of what I wanted to achieve with our products. We create what we think are unique and authentic spirits using natural ingredients. They are made by an award-winning distiller at a small batch distillery in London.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

It was funded by myself and my business partner at that time.

What was your biggest break?

Securing the largest private collection of whisky ever to come to public sale. Totalling over 3,900 bottles and valued in excess of £7 million.

The collection was compiled by the late Mr. Richard Gooding, a Coloradan businessman and philanthropist. We were approached by a representative for his family to sell the collection.

The first stage of the auction was completed earlier this month. The second stage will be completed in April. The collection includes some of the rarest whiskies ever sold on the secondary market. We are incredibly excited about the opportunity it presents our company.

What was your worst moment?

The uncertainties around one of our key markets, Europe, due to Brexit have caused continuing concern for our business. As a global company we want to continue to be part of the upward trajectory of the secondary whisky market.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

The people.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To be the global market leader and trusted authority on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. We want to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography.

What could the Scottish and/or Westminster Governments do that would help?

We are currently putting provisions in place to lessen the impact of the changing trade situation for our large European customer base. What would be useful to us now is clear communication around any trade deals that are struck, so that we can understand how they will impact our wider customer base, located globally.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Listen to everyone. Advice comes from areas you least expect and listening and talking to people about your issues and opportunities provides you with the confidence to make the right decisions for the business.

How do you relax?

I spend time with my family and enjoy the odd dram.