THE market for rare whisky continues to soar new figure show, with bottles of single malt sold at auction in the first six months of 2015 growing to over £4.5million.

The boom in interest in whisky collectables has also marked Scotland's national drink as a sound investment bet, with the market for rare bottles rocketing over the longer term.

According to figures released today, the top 100 performing bottles of 'Investment Grade Scotch' have seen their values rise by over 500 per cent between 2008 and June 2015.

A leading whisky intelligence, valuation and brokerage service set up to capitalise on the global market, fuelled by demand among collectors in the UK, Europe, North America, India, Japan and Taiwan, said the growth stands in contrast to the much tougher conditions faced by the mainstream whisky industry.

Whisky investment analyst and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, Andy Simpson, said: “For many in the broader Scotch industry, export and sales figures appear challenging. However, the secondary market for rarities shows little of this stress. We view this as a clear future trend, with the value of scarcity increasing demand from connoisseurs, collectors and investors.”

Rare Whisky 101, which works with the country's biggest distillers, said the first six months of the year saw 20,638 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky sold in the UK on the open market, an increase of 5,374 bottles and a 35 per cent increase on the same period last year. Compared to the first half of last year, the value of collectables sold at auction grew 33.8 per cent to £4.604m.

Mt Simpson added: “Demand for rare whisky and the supply of bottles at auction are both accelerating at an extraordinary rate, and this is driving up values. Even using the broadest metrics of the top 1000 bottles, we have seen a dramatic and dynamic rise in values since 2008 to end June 2015.

“Demand for desirable single malt Scotch brands and previously discontinued bottles remains exceptionally strong. The dead hand of marketing is gaining an ever tighter grip on the single malt category, where retail releases are becoming non-age stated (NAS) and the number of bottles ever more prolific.

"The dearth of truly collectable releases over recent years has only fuelled demand for older and discontinued past releases where quality and rarity are powerful motivations for purchase."

According to the latest figures leading rare whisky brands Brora and The Dalmore retain their positions as the top two ranked distilleries.

Bowmore is one of the biggest risers, up 13 places from 18 to five, Ardbeg up 10 places from 19 to nine, and Glenfiddich which climbed 16 places to 23. Balvenie tumbled 10 places from three to 13.

It added that while values for collectable single malt Scotch had made impressive gains during the first half of the year, their performance paled in comparison to some Japanese brands. Karuizawa, Rare Whisky 101 said, had increased by 66.05 per cent at the half year point, outperforming any other single malt Scotch brand.