Investing in whisky has gained popularity with a remarkable 582% surge in the value of rare whisky over the last decade, as reported by the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index. The Covid lockdown saw a real surge in whisky buying, with consumers having more expendable income and using it to buy into alternative assets. Notably a bottle of 1926 Rare Macallan single malt fetched a staggering £2.1 million at auction in November 2023.
Understanding why certain whiskies are valuable is crucial. Similar to investments in gold, fine wine, and art, supply and increasing demand plays a vital role. Limited availability of highly rated whiskies will drive up prices on the secondary market.
Global trends have significantly impacted the whisky market, with the rise of the middle class in Asia, particularly China, further fuelling demand. Europe and America also show increased interest in luxury items, driven by rising disposable incomes.
Types of whiskies vary widely, including Scotch, Irish, Japanese, Bourbon, Tennessee, Canadian, and Rye whiskies.
Investors often focus on single malt whiskies, which originate from a single batch and are usually aged for tens of years. The distillery producing the whisky significantly influences its value, with historic and respected ones, like Macallan in Scotland, often commanding high prices.
Before diving into whisky investments, thorough research is crucial. Decide whether to buy bottles, whole barrels, or a mix, considering storage challenges and costs. Storage conditions are vital, requiring a cool, dark place to prevent changes in colour and flavour.
Here are our top tips for investing in whisky
Choose a known whisky brand
The likes of Macallan, Springbank, Bowmore, Dalmore and Glenfarclas are all very well known distilleries, they are highly marketable and any limited edition release that comes out is highly sought after.
Limited edition is key
Bottles that have had a limited run such as single cask whiskies (whisky that comes from just one cask) will see a small number of bottles being produced. If the whisky has been limited to 2,000 bottles or less then it’s a good start!
Closed distilleries are diamonds
Distilleries that have closed such as St Magdelene or Imperial shut down a number of years ago, meaning no other whisky is being produced. These whiskies will be worth a lot over time as bottles get drunk, broken etc and demand increases.
Bottles as part of a series do well
Distilleries will bring our a series or collection, such as Macallan’s Folio Series. This is 24 releases (roughly one every year) consisting of 2,000 bottles (give or take) in each release. Completing a series will increase the overall value significantly compared to having individual series.
Know when to sell
It’s never too early to take a profit, getting hold of rare bottles when they come out can be very touch. Demand will initially soar, followed usually by a slowdown, before increasing again over time.
Build a relationship with a whisky stockist or supplier
Everyone wants the next rare bottle that will triple in value the next day, but getting hold of these bottles becomes harder and harder every year. By buying from a few stockists you will be able to build a relationship with them, so when the rare bottles get released you’ll have a higher chance of being allocated something.
Starting a whisky collection is exciting, it can also be daunting when you end up buying a bottle for hundreds or thousands of pounds. Below are some of our picks for some sound investments.
Where to begin?
A superb 40 year old whisky from St Magdelene, a now closed distillery. Only 161 bottles were produced, making this very rare.
A bourbon that is hand filled, sealed, labelled and individually numbered. Blanton’s is released periodically and due to demand is a worthy investment.
This Macallan from the 90’s is now discontinued, it’s a superb whisky that we have been lucky enough to try. Older Macallan’s are a gem, they have seen a continual rise over the last 5 years.
Part of the Folio Series of which there are 24 releases, Macallan Folio 7 is a limited edition release and each Folio release is sold out within minutes and held by collectors and investors.