Top 10 for Collecting & Investing in Whisky - With the current trend of whiskys out performing gold when it comes to return on investment, sometimes with lightening fast results. It keeps remarkably well and has a mark of high social standing which is why, having such liquid assets in your investment portfolio alongside cars, art and antiques is as important as having it in your drinks cabinet. Here are some tips to getting into the whisky game.
1. Go Scotch
The best performing investment in whisky, is in Scotch. Its premium global status has heralded in a new wave of investment-grade bottlings, which are aimed at the collectors market, such as the 70 Year Old Glenlivet by Gordon & MacPhail released in 2012.
2. But don’t forget the new whisky producing markets
Japanese whisky is seeing an explosion of interest, with the two established producers of Nikka and Suntory both releasing super-quality products, fuelling demand for both drinking and collecting stock from this part of the world. One producer in particular, Karuizawa has seen phenomenal price rises on the secondary market, as the distillery no longer exists. Expect it to soar further when it does eventually run out.
3. Quality liquid always wins
Quality liquid is always going to be sought-after, so keep an eye on reviews both in magazines and online. Even bottles from unheard of distilleries can be a good investment if the reviews are stellar for something rare and limited.
4. Check the name
Big name brands such as Johnnie Walker, The Macallan and Glenfiddich have a strong following, with certain smaller, cult brands such as Ardbeg releasing small amounts to a rabid fan base who all seek to complete their own collections. Other names to watch are Highland Park, Springbank, Glendronach, Bowmore and Lagavulin.
5. Associations are good
Look out for bottles with added value, such as The Macallan’s boxset with iconic British artist Peter Blake or their Masters Of Photography Series where each bottle comes with a limited edition signed print by a famous photographer such as Albert Watson or Elliott Erwitt.
6. Be wary of limited editions
In Scotch whisky, there is no definition of what can be called ‘Limited Edition’. Look for single casks (often limited to 500 bottles or fewer) or outurns of less than 3,000 globally. A high alcohol content helps, which will add value to the overall item as well as those limited editions designed for specific markets or travel retail outlets.
7. Closed distilleries are open for business
Scotch has seen ups and downs with many distilleries closing in periods of low sales. In this boom time, those brands such as Rosebank, the smoky mainland Scotch of Brora and the lost Islay distillery of Port Ellen are extremely sought-after commanding very high prices as auction. Eventually stocks from these distilleries will be gone completely. Then you’ll see some truly bonkers prices.
8. Old bottles, new prices
Not all collectables have been released since the investment market opened up. Old bottles from the early 1900’s through to pre-Prohibition bourbons and those released in the latter half of the decade will be wanted for investments as well as for high-end bars. Look out for early 1900’s American whiskey on the backbar at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
9. Consider the condition
The condition of bottles is important. Unlike wine, whisky won’t go off in bottle but it could evaporate, so check the ‘fill level’ (the height of the liquid in the bottle) which should be well into the neck. Make sure the label is in tip-top condition too and beware of fakes: by from reputable auctions sites such as Scotch Whisky Auctions or Bonhams, or retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, Hedonism or Master of Malt.
10. New brands on the block
They say that when the Bellhop in your hotel gives you share tips, it is time to get out of the market. So what are the new kids on the block? Alongside stalwarts such as The Macallan, look out for Diageo’s Mortlach, indie-distillery Kilchoman, single grain whisky from Girvan and, to be totally left-field, world whisky craft distillers such as Overeem from Tasmania and Chichibu from Japan. Always remember: your investments can go up as well as down, but at least if it does fall, you can have one hell of a party with your stocks…