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‘Worry’ over unaged whisky cask investments

Investment specialists at Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) have expressed “worry” over the increased number of inexperienced investors buying new make spirit.

RW101 has offered advice to those contemplating investing in Scotch whisky casks
RW101 has offered advice to those contemplating investing in Scotch whisky casks

RW101, a rare whisky indexing, valuation and brokerage firm, recently released its Rare Whisky Collectors / Investors 2015 Single Malt Scotch Review, outlining performance of rare whisky on the secondary market last year.

The firm said the market for rare whisky experienced a “record” year in 2015, but also outlined a number of issues affecting the sector.

RW101 said it has brokered a number of sales of “exceptional” casks containing old liquid, including Ardbeg, Laphroaig, The Macallan, Highland Park and Springbank.

However, the company said these sales were made by “sophisticated buyers with a wealth of experience in maturing stocks”, adding that it would not advise inexperienced investors or buyers to purchase “even the most sought after of casks” due knowledge about the loss of liquid in the maturation process.

In addition, the increased incidence of inexperienced investors looking at buying into new make spirit, that is, whisky that has not aged in the barrel, is “worrying” to RW101.

“Malt and grain production is at an all-time high with distilleries being worked 24/7 to get more out of every last cell of years,” the group said. “Should the current negative trend for global sales of big brand blends continue, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility that there could be a whisky loch in a few years’ time.”

In order to generate funding to increase capacity, a number of whisky distilleries offer cask investment schemes to consumers, who can purchase either entire casks or shares in casks at a time before the liquid has aged.

While RW101 concedes that buying new make spirit from distilleries where it’s not usually obtainable “may not be disastrous”, the firm said such investments “might not yield the expected results”.

“The market for older casks of quality liquid from top-tier distilleries, in our opinion, will continue to go from strength to strength,” RW101 said. “[H]owever, we’re advising our customers against buying new make from less desirable single malt distilleries or new make single grain.

“Rarity and quality, again in our opinion, is crucial when looking at casks.”

David Robertson, former master distiller for The Macallan, partnered with former corporate banker and founder of Whisky Highland Andy Simpson to launch RW101 in 2014.

To see the company’s new list of the top 10 most investible Scotch whisky brands, click here.

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