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Everything you need to know to start investing in Whisky: Part 1

giorgiodambrosio | rarewhisky | whiskycollection | whiskyinvestment

October 26, 2021

Giorgio D’Ambrosio practical guideline on how to start building up your whisky collection and which bottles to invest in.

You have done your research and discovered that whisky may be as valuable as gold when it comes to investing. But where to start? How to pick the right bottles? How to store them correctly? Fear not. Here are some tips on how to start your whisky collection and some advice directly from Giorgio D’Ambrosio.

Whisky as investment

In recent years, the whisky market has been growing dramatically, and statistics anticipate that it will continue to rise at a considerable rate in the next decade. Despite the pandemic, as it affected so many trading physical goods, 2021 is about to be a record year for the single-malt Scotch whisky market, reaching almost a 30% increase over 2019, according to the projection estimated in the report by Rare Whisky 101.

In other words, the pandemic has shown us that whisky has become ever more popular as a commodity. Indeed, it seems that this is the new trend of the moment: invest in bottles of whisky.

And here we come back to the most puzzling conundrum for all whisky aficionados:

To drink or to keep, that is the question.

There is no doubt that a bottle of whisky can turn out to be a treasure on our shelves.
Suffice it to mention that on St. Patrick’s Day 2021, Craft Irish Whiskey Co. broke all records when its Emerald Isle Collection, in collaboration with Fabergé, was auctioned for $2m.
Of course, not all the most valuable bottles have such staggering figures, but they can indeed prove to be safe investments.

Is whisky a “safe investment”?

Unlike cars, watches and other luxury items, whisky maintains its quality if left unopened. This means that collectors can keep their best bottles as long as they need to see the best returns. Indeed, a bottle of whisky increases in value over time and, unlike more traditional investment funds, maintaining a collection is pretty much free of tax.

Naturally, not all expressions are collectable, and the rarer the bottle the better the appeal. In general, it is always good advice to invest in rare or limited edition bottles. In both cases, time will cause their value to increase, as well as the returns compared to their initial prices.
Purchasing quality bottlings from ghost distilleries have also more than positive results on the second-hand market. In short, while whisky is a joy for the palate and the soul, it can also represent a fortune.

Where to start investing?

New investors should definitely bet on safe investments, a.k.a. look for distilleries with a long-established reputation for whisky to invest on. According to Rare Whisky 101, the top 10 distilleries in the investor ranking for 2021 are Springbank, Rosebank, Dalmore, Brora, Glenury Royal, Port Ellen, Lochside, Glenugie, St Magdalene.
Although it is always wise to also consider other historic distilleries such as Macallan, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Mortlach and Clynelish. As a matter of fact, The Macallan is notorious for setting records during auctions.

However, if you want to find the dark horse and take more high-risk opportunities, you might want to keep track of the trend forecast for the next years and bet on the distilleries most likely to rise. To do this, there is no other option but to study the industry. “Be Hungry, be foolish”, am I right?

Are you looking for more whisky to invest in released in 2021?

Go to our article “2021 Release”

Rare bottles to invest in

If the budget available is very generous, there is no doubt that 5-decade-old bottles are the ones that generate the most returns. Predominantly, is Scottish Whisky that registers the mighties price tags at auctions worldwide. However, Japanese whiskies are quickly proving to be on the rise in popularity.

Macallan Selected Reserve 1924

One of the best among the most expensive whiskies to invest in is the Macallan Selected Reserve 1946, bottled in 1998 as a 52-year-old whisky. This means that at the present time, this whisky is over 70 years old. Its valuation? Between £7,800 – £9,800.

The Macallan Red Collection

Another Macallan expression with a high price tag is certainly The Macallan Red Collection. This unique – as there is only one in the world – set of six whiskies went up for auction at Sotheby’s in London, November 2020, and it was sold for £756,400 ($975,756). Acquired by an Asian private collector, the set was gifted by The Macallan to City Harvest London to raise funds for the food charity. The Collection features six highly aged Macallan whisky, including two of the oldest ever released by the distillery: a 74 yeard old and a 78 yeard old bottle.

Bowmore 1973

Bowmore is another distillery that has certainly made a name for itself in the whisky auction field, with their bottles reaching incredible prices. Their Bowmore 1973 Islay, distilled in 1973 and bottled in 2016 has a starting price of £6,500, making it a fantastic investment if you’re willing to hold it for several years to increase the scarcity and thus find yourself with a rare, quality whisky in your hands.

Glenlivet 1981

Among the whiskies to invest in for less than £600, certainly, the Glenlivet 1981, exclusive to Whisky Exchange is one to consider. With a limited number of 702 bottles, it will certainly increase its value with time.

The Yamazaki 55 year old

As for the increasingly popular Japanese whiskies, one of the best whisky to focus on is certainly the bottlings from Yamazaki distillery. Indeed, not only Yamazaki whisky are incredible in quality, but last year, in the early months of 2020, the distillery also released a 55-year-old expression, the oldest Japanese whisky to ever hit the market. Only 100 bottles were produced, available only by way of lottery for the sum of $27,000 (or three million yen).

A word from the expert: Giorgio D’Ambrosio

When it comes to investing in whisky, it is always important to reach for the opinion of someone experienced, especially if you have just started. Thus, we asked Giorgio D’ambrosio, the Maestro of whisky in Italy, to give us some tips on how to take the first steps into this world.

What does Giorgio D’Ambrosio recommend to a novice whisky trader?

In order to avoid making mistakes, you should always choose the most popular distilleries, the ones that always resonate in people’s minds: Macallan, Bowmore, Lagavulin, Glen Grant, Springbank. Then, there are distilleries that release particular bottlings, such as Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain. Also, the distilleries on the island of Islay are always very popular.

The three vintage bottles you absolutely must invest in if you have the chance?

Black Bowmore, Macallan 30/25, Brora

What about the bottles released in the last 15 years?

Karizauwa masoin de whisky, Caol Ila kingsbury, Sprinkbank local barley, Ardbeg supernova 2014, Brora 2015.

Now that you know your way around, you can begin to try and understand the world of whisky investment. But the journey has just begun and soon will share some more recommendations…

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