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$5,210 a bottle: Why investors are banking on whiskey

·4-min read
Whiskey being poured from a bottle into a glass over ice and a man removing $100 notes from a wallet.
The value of the whiskey market is sky-rocketing. This what you need to know (Source: Getty)

he value of whiskey has skyrocketed 582 per cent since 2009, so it’s fair to say the market is booming.

And while many investors look to things like ETFs to help grow their wealth, there’s still a large market for some of the more alternative assets.

Single malt whiskey is an easily stored, physical asset that has been a popular option for many.

Whiskey is a big business, in fact the most expensive bottle of spirit ever sold was the Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old 1926 - which was auctioned off for a massive $2.57 million.

So, how can you build a whiskey collection that is a safe investment and that you won’t be tempted to open for a night-cap?

Here is what you need to know.

What to look out for when buying a whiskey investment

For starters, you want to look out for what is known as a ‘ghost’ distillery. This is essentially a distillery that no longer produces whiskey.

Buying a whiskey from a producer that no longer makes the spirit will inherently hold more value because it can’t be recreated, will be rare and will gain value with age.

Your odds of a return will be significantly higher because of the finite supply.

The Whisky Mill Co-Founder, Jared Plummer told Yahoo Finance a great place to start is by looking into blended Whiskey.

“I recommend Johnnie Walker Black Label, it covers all corners of Scotland in terms of flavour and is a great bottle on the home bar for mixing cocktails – whiskey sours and highballs,” Plummer said.

“Single malts – A Speyside is a must – 15-18 years is a great age on Single Malt whiskey plus add in a coastal malt like Oban 14 year old is an excellent whiskey. Once you build a good base it’s recommended to venture into looking into peated (smoky) whiskies – Lagavulin produce incredible whiskey.”

Understanding the Whiskey market

Do your own research to try and gain a deeper understanding of the market. Plummer suggested Dave Broom, who has written a number of books and published YouTube videos explaining whiskey, as a good starting point.

“Dave Broom is one of the world’s finest and unbiased minds on whiskey and has written a number of books and YouTube videos that explain whiskey incredibly well. He’s also a really great guy,” Plummer said.

Also - taste before you buy. Obviously don’t go around opening up bottles worth thousands of dollars, but having an understanding of the taste is an important factor.

“The more you taste the more you’ll learn, there’s no right or wrong, everyone will have their preferences,” Plummer said.

“Keep a small log book so you can build your own tasting notes and then over time as your collection grows, when you go back to particular whiskies you might find nuances that you enjoy and it's enjoyable to start to navigate your way around the world of whiskey.”

Speyside scotch whisky tasting on old dark wooden vintage table with barley grains close up
Try doing a whiskey tasting to help understand what it is you're buying (Source: Getty)

What are the top whiskey brands sought after by collectors?

In a report published by Rare Whisky 101, the top brands being sought out by connoisseurs, collectors and investors for investment opportunities include:

  1. Brora 37 Year Old (2015 Special Release) - $3,443.99

  2. Port Ellen 32 Year old (2015) - $5,210

  3. Clynelish Select Reserve (2015) - $1,063

  4. Convalmore 32 Year Old - $1,417.99

  5. Mortlach 25 Year Old - $999

For those who wish to be even a little bolder, Plummer said the Cally 40 year old Single Grain Whisky represents an opportunity to take advantage of a category on the move.

Where does opportunity lie?

Discontinued younger age stated ‘standard’ bottles from many years ago continue to be hugely desirable, according to Rare Whisky 101.

“Laphroaig 10 year olds from the 1970s, Lagavulin 12 year olds, Talisker 8 year olds…the list is almost endless,” it said in its most recent Whiskey report.

“Tiny supply and the continued demand of the curious connoisseur should keep these bottles of yesteryear ahead of the masses.”

Plummer said one of the biggest trends he has witnessed in recent years is with new and emerging brands releasing the “new make”.

“[It] is essentially the spirit before it goes into a barrel to be aged and developed over the years to a finished product,” he said.

“By releasing the new make, they’re able to start getting their brand recognised and building the anticipation for the whiskey when it’s ready to be bottled which can range from anywhere from 4-12 years to get your first whiskey on a shelf.”

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