Why you should be investing in whisky

UK auction sales of rare whisky rose by 35 per cent in the first half of this year, according to data released by Rare Whisky 101

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The Independent Online

With interest rates at record lows, savers looking to make money elsewhere could do worse than rare or collectable whisky.

Sales in rare whiskey have hit record high this year. One highly desirable bottle is the star lot in a Bonhams auction sale on Wednesday. A bottle of 50 year old Glendfiddich is expected to reach £15,000 during a whisky sale in Scotland. Coming from a batch of nine casks laid down in the 1930s, it has a special place in the history of the Grant family, distillers of Glenfiddich and founders of the company in the 1880s.

The appetite for whisky has been growing. UK auction sales of rare whisky rose by 35 per cent in the first half of this year, according to data released by Rare Whisky 101 (RW 101). The consultancy said that 20,628 of single malt were sold on the open market in the first quarter of 2015.

“There’s always been interest for whisky from all over the world and it’s been steadily growing, but lately there is more interest coming from the Far East where it’s considered as premium product,” Bonhams whisky specialist, Martin Green, said. “People collect it as it has much longer shelf life than wine, once bottled, whisky can be stored indefinitely. For people on a trip to Scotland, its a product they will immediately turn to.”

While demand for collectable whisky is rising, Scotch whisky exports fell by 7 per cent in 2014 according to figures by the Scotch Whisky Association. UK sales also fell by 5 per cent in the same period.    

For Andy Simpson, co-founder of RW 101 and whisky collector from the age of 16, there is an increase in demand and interest for luxury whisky. An increasing number of whisky bars and hotels want to invest in rare bottles and offer it to their clients.

“People don’t want to buy a bottle of whisky at the supermarket. They are becoming aware that today’s collectable or investment could be somebody else’s drink tomorrow,” Mr Simpson said.

Whisky sales are also on the rise in Japan. Japan, where whisky was once considered a novelty, has recently been challenging Scottish whisky after spirit writer Jim Murray named Yamazaki’s Sherry Cask Single-Malt 2013 the best in the world in his Whisky Bible.

In August, a bottle of 1960 Karuizawa also sold for $HK918,750 (£77,735) in Hong King, setting an auction record for Japanese whisky. A 1974 Karuizawa bottle with a 40 year old vintage cask went for £6600 on an online auction on Sunday.

One company has set up an alternative marketplace for whisky called WhiskyInvestDirect. The company aims to change the way whisky is traded and financed. It allows people to buy and sell units of whisky as it ages in the barrel, starting at a very cheap price while the liquor is still maturing.

The hope is that investors will, for the first time, profit from owning maturing whisky. 

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