Here is some advice to help you savour this highly rewarding alternative asset…
A Dalmore 62 Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky which sold for £32,000 in 2005, having been one of just 12 bottled in 1943, was promptly opened and consumed by the new owner and five friends at a hotel.
If you can resist temptation the rewards can be substantial.
A 50 year old Macallan, bought for £200 in 1983 sold for £11,750 in August. So that’s close to a hundred-fold increase.
So what are you looking for? Great quality whisky, of course, or rather whisky which a good many people expect to be great.
Not everyone likes the same thing: some may like smokier flavours, others sweeter ones, but so long as there’s a reputation it’s worth an investment.
So before getting your wallet out, ask yourself: is this a brand with a reputation?
Think Ardbeg, Balvenie, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Glenfiddich, Glenfarclas, Highland Park, Macallan, Springbank and Talisker (amongst others, and not equally).
You then want it to have been kept in the cask a certain amount of time before bottling, as this is where most of the flavour arises.
Fewer than three years and it’s not even whisky, but generally whiskies are ‘aged’ between one and five decades before bottling.
You might consider buying whilst the whisky is still in the barrel as this can avoid certain duties. But this is probably not the way to start, as it needs a little bit of expertise.
Once it has been bottled there’s no theoretical reason why the whisky cannot be kept indefinitely.
Of course this requires careful storage in even temperatures out of direct sunlight. Also, if the conditions are dry, dampening the cork every so often may prevent it from shrinking.
Whilst a little whisky is lost every year from whisky in a cask (the ‘angel’s share’), a bottle with whisky that only reaches up to the shoulders has probably had its contents oxidised, and what’s left won’t be much good. That might affect how much an observant buyer would pay, depending on their priorities.
Rarity/supply can be a huge factor. Whisky from a quality distillery which has been forced to close down may leap in value. ( Like Brora Single Malt )
Hence a 27 year old Port Ellen has leap in value from £130 last May to over £1,000 now, because Port Ellen is no more.
Single malt Whisky is regarded as the most sophisticated type of Scotch Whisky.
About 90% of Scotch is sold as blended Whisky.
Just as Fine Wine, there is a limited stock of a growing demand for premium Whisky.
Every bottle that is sold, consumed or taken out of an normal circulation, will decrease the supply of the premium whisky stock and put upwards pressure on the price of the remaining stock available. Limited editions of certain premium whisky are particularly attractive, because once they have been sold there is no more supply of that particular edition.