How much would you pay for a cask of rare Scotch whisky? For some, it seems, there is no limit when it comes to the liquid gold. Earlier this month, an anonymous buyer in Hong Kong paid an incredible, auction-record £285,000 for a sherry cask filled with a 30-year-old Macallan single malt. Its contents, if emptied, would work out at a whopping £1,000 per 70cl bottle. However, other individuals have paid even more for a cask of the prestige alcoholic spirit, with one Scotch whisky brokerage reporting a sale over £500,000. Some industry experts believe there are £1m casks out there waiting to be discovered.
So why are people willing to spend such extortionate amounts of money on the spirit? The answer isn't as straightforward as you may think. For some, casks are merely an investment, well suited for whisky enthusiast or simply an individual looking for an alternative investment. For others, such as connoisseurs and collectors, there's more significance on the experience - tasting a spirit that has been ageing in oak casks for decades upon decades. Although, rarity is also highly sought after. That may sound weird when an estimated three billion litres of the beverage is busy maturing in storage at one given time, which is enough to fill 1,200 Olympic-sized swimming pools. However, in reality, much of it is relatively new, keeping in mind that it requires at least three years of maturation before a spirit can legally take on the name Scotch.
Those operating at the top end, of the extremely rare whisky market, says “there is no shortage of interest from potential buyers”. Analyst and broker Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) has noted increased demand for "quality casks" from connoisseurs, collectors and investors in recent times. Along with, The Dunfermline-based firm, co-founded in 2014 by Andy Simpson and David Robertson, says its past deals with brands such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Macallan and Springbank have achieved an average cask price of more than £130,000.
So, is it worth investing in?
Current investors has this to say “whisky is an attractive investment opportunity due to being a slower, long-term industry like gold rather than a rapidly evolving one.” This style of the market is known to provide investors with high returns, and offers very little risk, due to the price of whiskies ever-increasing with age.