Investments can be utterly emotionless, if you’re so inclined — an algorithmic speculation based purely on data, hard facts and simulated forecasts. But it’s far more interesting, should you have a little something stuffed under the mattress, to punt on an investment of the heart as much as of the mind.
And, as we learned from the latest edition of estate agent Knight Frank’s invaluable Wealth Report, there are few things better to slip a little pocket money into than whisky.
After all, even if your speculation comes to naught, at least you’ll have something lovely to sip, and indulge in, and share out beside the fireplace. Can the same be said for a highly diversified synthetic collateralised debt obligation?
Perhaps that’s why whisky has attracted such influential admirers of late. Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s private jet has been spotted at Aberdeen airport, while Jeff Bezos is said to be an avid collector.
Sales of scotch to India, China and Singapore rose by 44 per cent, 35 per cent and 24 per cent respectively in the first half of 2018 according to the Scotch Whisky Association, while a single bottle of 1926 Macallan sold for £1.2m in November last year. These are heady times for this particular liquid gold.
Charlie Beamish of Beamish International, a private client business focused on alternative investments, offers some useful pointers for the greenhorn whisky collector.
“Go to tastings and auctions, attend shows and get to know as many people as possible,” he says. “If you’re really lucky, you might even get the opportunity to purchase a cask.” (After all, genuine enthusiasts are more likely to be offered a rare bottle by a specialist retailer or distiller.)
“Casks very rarely come up for sale, but when they do, they are highly sought after. Access to rare casks directly from brand owners with the option of an original bottle is the ultimate in rare whisky collecting.”
There are about 120 malt whisky distilleries operating in Scotland and 40 or so “ghost” or “silent” distilleries that have shut, but whose aged whisky is still being released as it matures.
“The romance and rarity factor makes bottles from these distilleries highly sought after,” says Beamish. But with thousands of bottles to choose from, it’s easy for collectors to suffer a case of choice paralysis (not to mention a serious hangover).
So, to help burnish your credentials as a connoisseur, Knight Frank asked leading expert, retailer and educator Sukhinder Singh of the Whisky Exchange to recommend some lesser-known options for the first-time investor.
Talisker 10 Year Old Scotch Whisky
Suntory Hibiki Harmony
Kavalan Classic Single Malt
This interview first appeared in our March issue, click here to subscribe and get your copy sent to your door today…