Single Malt Whisky As An Investment

22 June 2015

You'd be surprised how much I get asked about whisky investment. It is a hot topic right now and one that is only set to grow and gather momentum as the world turns on to the fact that returns on whisky are far better than any returns from, in the UK's case, any high street bank or building society.  

There is also a feeling of 'winning' about it, and not in the Charlie Sheen sense of the term as, like any investment, you are playing a long or short form of gambling. 

The benefit of whisky investment vs. traditional stock market investment is, in its most simplistic of rationale, the fact that the liquid very rarely goes down in price. 

In my few years involved in buying, hoarding, collecting, owning, showcasing, whatever you want to call it, I have arbitrarily tracked the current value of my collection against what they were worth when I bought them and in virtually all cases the resale price has gone up.  

Whilst a lot of them have only gone up by about 10 - 20% over the last year, that is still a much more interesting investment prospect than Generic High Street Bank's 2.4% Gross APR.  

The minority that has not gone up by 10 - 20%?

Well, these have remained flat. This means that I have a couple of options; sell for what I paid for the bottle, minus commission, minus postage etc. or I could open the bottle and enjoy as the distillers intended or I could do what I did recently and take a relatively expensive bottle, Kininvie 23 Batch 2, along to a 'bottle share' evening and celebrate a brilliant liquid with those who will thoroughly appreciate it as much as I will. 

What should you invest in then?  

There is usually a group of around four or five people who surround me at the end of any whisky tasting GreatDrams does asking this exact question. 

My advice is simple but effective, and can be broken into these three tips: 

1. Only invest in Single Malt

Whilst blends can be as good, if not better than single malt on occasion, from an investment perspective people will only up their bids for single malts. Likely due to marketing and brand conditioning this is and for the near term will always be the case so don't think that you will see a return on that extra special limited blend. Why? Because specific blends may be unique but the magic of blending, and I mean that, is in creating consistent and historical flavours using different components so that blend will cycle around again. 

2. Look for collections / series

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery, all the core Glenfiddich 12, 15, 18, 21 etc. in their generational packaging. By this, I mean buying a collection of the entire range from decades gone by. Whilst the core range is widely available, there’s some demand for bottles with old packaging and if you can find a full collection from say the 80s or 90s, all the better. Likewise, if you can buy one of each today and resist opening them, in years to come when the packaging is likely to change again, you may find some appeal later down the line.

3. Be in it for the medium to long haul

There is immense value in being the first to buy and the first to sell, but that wears off roughly two months after a release has been put out there. A great example of this is the Ardbeg Perpetuum Distillery Release that was on an auction site within two days of launch, selling for £400 after being bought for just £70. The next month? That was down to £160. I'm guessing it will balance out at around £100 for the next six to twelve months. Be patient and be prepared to lock the investment bottles away for say three years until they are no longer freely available, a load of them have been opened and enjoyed and people are curious again as to what happened way back when.  

Hope that helps with your whisky investment, nothing groundbreaking here but more of a grounding in the simple realities of how you can make a few quid than you have now through smart purchases for the medium term. 

One final point: do what I do and buy two of each limited edition that takes you fancy. I save one and open one so that i can at least be a part of the immediate excitement whilst also knowing I have one 'in the bank'.

If you’re collecting single malts, drop me a line on Twitter – I’d love to hear which whiskies you’re treasuring. 


Greg Dillon
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