The concept of investing in whisky is relatively new, although the trade in old and rare bottles has been around for decades. What began as a niche for enthusiasts has evolved into a world of investment funds, consultants and indices charting the evolution of auction prices.
There are many motivations behind buying whisky for investment purposes, from ‘flippers’ looking to sell on for a short-term profit, to whisky lovers out to fund their next purchases, to those with the patience and capital to target a longer-term profit.
It’s a good idea to buy what you like (you might have to drink it one day), to use trusted sellers who will steer you away from fake whiskies and to exercise caution and patience, waiting for the right whisky and the right price. Oh, and try to have fun…
Here are eight options that illustrate the breadth of collectable and investable whisky today.
Best whisky for investment: Eight top bottles
Black Bowmore DB5 1964
In 1993, Black Bowmore cost less than £100 a bottle. A medium-peated Islay single malt, matured in a Williams & Humbert Walnut Brown oloroso Sherry butt, its remarkable power, complexity and subtlety made it a legend – and this might be its apogee: matured for 31 years, limited to 25 bottles with über-luxurious packaging in association with Aston Martin. At £50,000, it shows how far high-end Scotch has come. Alc 49.6%
Hakushu 18 Year Old
Japanese whisky’s remarkable ascent from anonymity to global phenomenon has created a severe shortage of aged liquid and rocketing prices – making even an 18-year-old single malt worth more than £500. This remarkable combination of peated and unpeated spirits and different distillation regimes is a precise and richly fruited delight that shows just why. Alc 43%
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen
Single malts hog the headlines, but some of the finest whiskies on the planet are blends. This superb creation showcases fabled Islay ‘ghost’ distillery Port Ellen’s peated savour alongside rare grain whiskies from closed Carsebridge and Caledonian, plus aged malt from Mortlach, Dailuaine, Cragganmore, Blair Athol and Oban. At a few hundred quid, it’s a snip. Alc 43.8%
Laphroaig 30 Year Old The Ian Hunter Story Book 2
For those familiar with its famously medicinal 10-year-old iteration, aged Laphroaig is a revelation. The peat softens and retreats, ushering in a remarkable spiced fruit character, alongside dark honey and liquorice. This is the second in a series commemorating the Islay distillery’s legendary manager of a century ago. Alc 48.2%
Macallan 36 Year Old Director’s Special
Macallan is the most famous and collectable whisky in the world – the DRC or Lafite of Scotch; so famous that it’s worth seeking out unusual expressions such as this – an independent bottling by Elixir Distillers that eschews the distillery’s typical Sherried influence for something more classically Speyside: tropical fruit, toast and honey, baking spices and lemon icing. A giant’s gentler side. Alc 42.1%
Mortlach 21 Years Old (Special Releases 2020)
Diageo’s annual series of Special Releases are eagerly awaited, limited editions from the company’s unrivalled roster of distilleries. Here, the combination of famously feral Mortlach spirit with relatively restrained PX and oloroso Sherry casks creates a lightly meaty, juicily fruity powerhouse with not a little polish. A beast in a velvet smoking jacket. Alc 56.9%
Redbreast Dream Cask Ruby Port Edition
Long revered by insiders as the epitome of Ireland’s unique pot still style, Redbreast is now getting the global recognition it richly deserves. Nearly 7,500 people signed up online for a chance to buy one of only 900 bottles of this third Dream Cask bottling: a richly fruited, tangy whiskey of real depth and power thanks to 28 years and more of ageing. Alc 51.5%
Rosebank 30 Year Old ‘Release One’
To mark the planned resurrection of Lowland distillery Rosebank, new owner Ian Macleod Distillers has initiated a series of annual releases with this 1990 vintage single malt. Refill Sherry and Bourbon casks and long ageing have created an ethereal masterpiece of soft fruit, perfumed honey, Parma Violets and light spices. A paean to a (temporarily) lost legend. Alc 48.6%
Disclaimer: This article has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. Information is subject to change, and the prices and availability of whiskies cited will vary between countries, currencies and retailers. Seek independent advice where necessary. Please be aware that prices can go down as well as up and that whisky investment is unregulated in several markets, including the UK.