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The Market for Fine Whisky in 2023: Primed for Investment or on The Rocks?
January 12, 2021
Not sure about what is the best whisky to invest in, or what is the most collectible whisky in 2023? …you are in good company, as whisky investment is a hot topic following the economic meltdown caused by the various worldwide events in teh last few years.
The changing face of auctions
The raise in the whisky investment market shows the increasing effect that the internet is having on the auction process, as our wine & whisky experts have predicted many years before. In years gone by, to participate in an auction in Bonhams Hong Kong, you’d have to arrange with the auction house to phone in.
Depending on where you are in the world, this could mean sitting around on the phone for an extended period of time in the middle of the night. Going back even further, there was a time when you’d have to physically be in the room to participate in an auction.
Bonhams Hong Kong’s whisky auctions just show how times have changed, though. Rather than taking place in a very specific time window, the whisky sales are often underatken for a week.
This means that in 2023 potential whiskey investors can browse the online catalog at their leisure, and place bids as and when it suits them. Rather than being forced into action by the cut-and-thrust environment of a traditional auction, would-be whisky investment enthusiasts can scan the catalog at their own pace, and do research about the items they’re bidding on while they’re considering their next move.
When every-day objects are deemed luxurious, we go to the utmost of lengths to produce, position and even fabricate them as such. Some examples include fine wine collections, expensive jewellery, luxury handbags, classic cars, prestigious watches, and fine art. Alcohol fits into this category, an everyday product that, produced within the finest of criteria, can be deemed, luxurious, and collectible; with a corresponding price tag. The market for fine and matured whisky and the investment in acquiring these prized liquids is bourgeoning.
A more recent 2020 report further emphasises the growth of the “whiskey as investment” trend over the years:
Luxury, Quality. We will all often see these two words adorning packaging, adverts, or in a company’s ethos, they are words that are evocative of something extra. And in the world of fine whisky investment, it means a smooth scotch matured over many years from some of the most esteemed distilleries in Scotland. They are words we associate with the lavish, but how do we negotiate this definition, really, what is luxury?
The criteria that answer that question are different for each item and when we look at fine whisky matured for 50 years + a distilleries reputation plays a huge part in determining what wealthy investors will pay.
As with most products reputation, scarcity and exclusivity are very important factors.
Higher global Profile for Scotch
The profile of this market, in recent years, has only been raised. And for investment, the opportunities have only grown with prices collectors are willing to pay exponentially increasing. Andy Simpson of RW101 (rare whisky 101) says:
‘One person’s investment or collection today can be another’s drink tomorrow. Stick to limited editions, single casks, discontinued bottles and older rarities from the iconic collector’s distilleries.’
Contemporary – Haig Club
Recent, modern additions like the exclusively branded Haig Club – a concept born by David Beckham – show a spirit market growing.
Now although this whisky is contemporary, its roots as a producer aren’t. Haig Clubs origin and reputation as a distillery – just as in the market for fine whiskys – plays a huge part in the perception of a whisky and its brand for investment purpuses. Of course, for good reason, these are some of the oldest producers of this type of alcohol and are famed for their quality.
Established 1627, and although not a fine whisky, the formulation of a brand by powerful Beckham demonstrates aspects that can influence the perception of a product, as well as showing the progressive growth in investing in fine spirits.
As an investor, if you’re interested in entering this market Martin Green Head of Whisky at Bonham’s auction house suggests ‘starting with the main range, available from any whisky specialist and then progressing to exclusives from distilleries, but he warns to look out for forgeries.’
How can you invest in whisky in 2023?
Auction houses, distilleries, and whisky brokers are all good places to begin your search. Mr. Simpson says:
‘the key is to look for iconic distilleries such as Macallan, which released 1,000 bottles in 2011 commemorating the royal marriage. These cost £150 each and now sell for £1,000.’
Alternatively, you can outsource the selection process by investing in a fund. This is well documented in the content of this topic online where a manager would choose companies and bottles on your behalf. There are no UK funds doing this, however, but Hong Kong-based Platinum Whisky Investment Fund is a good place to start. It must be said, that the relationship between these funds and financial performance is not always a given and can be out of sync with how the modern whiskey market behaves.
OUR PICK OF TOP 10 WHISKIES INVESTMENTS FOR 2023
(In our opinion)
With whisky fast becoming just as valuable a resource as luxury watches or jewellery, what has long been a collector’s asset for some has become an excellent form of investment for others.
As for the best whisky to invest in 2023, there are plenty of promising options out there – but these make out the top ten as part of our whisky investment guide if you’re considering rare whisky investment for yourself:
1. Glenlivet 1981 Whiskey Exchange Exclusive
There’s nothing like exclusivity to raise the value of a whisky investment, and Glenlivet’s 36-year-old single malt scotch, complete with a sherry finish, is undoubtedly a collector’s piece.
With a limited number in circulation, totaling 702, this is one of the best whiskey investments you could make in 2023 and is likely to increase in value over time (provided you store it safely for long enough).
Amongst the best whisky to buy for your 2023 investment portfolio, these bottles currently go for below £600 – and that price is only likely to shoot up once the limited edition runs out.
2. Diageo Game of Thrones Collection
First released in 2019, with sales still coming through in the 2021s, this unique collector’s whiskey is all about having the set over a single bottle. With a complete series of 8 bottles trailing for £398, sets have already entered the auction market for triple that.
But considering the scarcity of this unique collection, and the connection with a fan-favorite series, the value of these bottles is only going to rise, making it yet another exclusive whisky that will increase in value.
If you can get your hands on every one, each created in one of Diageo’s distinct distilleries, it just might be one of the best whisky to invest in 2023.
3. Bowmore 1973 Islay
Bowmore has already made a name for themselves in the whisky auction field, with their bottles fetching incredible prices depending on rarity and distillery date.
The 1973-distilled single malt scotch was only bottled back in 2016 – giving it an incredible 32 years to reach maturation to a near-perfect standard.
While an initial bottle is costly, with prices set at £6,500, investing in this particular whiskey could be a fantastic return on investment in 2023 if you’re willing to hold on to it for a good few years to increase upon scarcity and make it worth the rare whisky investment.
4. Macallan Rare Cask 2020 Release
Macallan is a big name in the auction circuit, and a solid choice for cask whisky investment in 2023 if you’re considering breaking into to market for the first time.
The brand itself has a good track record, but the Rare Cask series, in particular, is far more than your average tipple. With only 1% of Macallan’s whisky deemed suitable for Rare Cask, this one’s an excellent find – and with a few year’s wait, can easily be worth a reasonable sum if you consider Macallan rare cask 2023 investments.
A starting price of £225 is affordable for just about any investor that wants to whisky invest direct – even if you choose to buy in bulk.
5. GlenDronach 1992 27 Year Old
With a total of just 304 bottles, and as one of the last creations of the old-school GlenDronach distillery before its closure for six years, this whisky has the kind of rarity that’s sought-out by collectors and investors alike.
Matured in a single sherry butt, this limited edition was bottled relatively recently and sold out quickly – making it one worth spotting for a potentially valuable whiskey investment in 2023.
With a price tag of £300, this one isn’t too expensive either, making it an even better proposition for those who may not be very familiar with how to invest in whisky.
6. Glenglassaugh 1978 40 Year Old
If you’re still wondering ‘which whisky to invest in 2023?’ that’s more middle of the road than inexpensive or a large investment, then the £999 Glenglassaugh 1978 40 Year Old might just fit the bill.
A store exclusive for The Whisky Shop – further adding to its rarity – only 298 bottles were created in total in 2019. As a notorious distillery that has spent more time with its doors closed than open, and with a long history dating back to 1875, this is a brand that can be found on countless whisky investment guides around the world.
7. Macallan Exceptional Single Cask 1950
It wouldn’t be the best whisky investment in the 2023 list without a second mention of one of the biggest investment brands in the business.
These bottles are on the costly side, with a limited run of 336 and maturation for nearly seven decades to add to their appeal. For £69,000 per bottle, this Macallan is a serious investment piece – but for those looking for the best whisky to buy for investment for more significant returns, this particular Speyside single malt has plenty of appeal.
8. GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice
If you’re after a slow burn whisky investment instead of a quick return, then this brand of GlenDronach might be the ideal choice for you. If you’re looking for a speedy increase, this one may not be the best whisky to invest in 2023.
But if you’re willing to wait, a slow and steady rise is standard for these bottles, allowing you to dip your toe in the water of cask whisky investment with a little less risk.
Created from limited-edition yearly casks, the £100 price point of the GlenDronach 18 Year Old Allardice is particularly attractive. Not quite as costly as the 1992, but valuable nonetheless.
9. Tamdhu Edinburgh Airport exclusive
Tamdhu is a rising star in the 2023 whisky investment market, thanks to their small batches and award-winning approach to whisky creation. A price tag of £279 makes this bottle more affordable than others on the market. With a small-scale operation and minimum runs, this is one option that can really pay back on investing in whisky casks and bottles.
Bottled in 2019, with a limit of 597 bottles, this one’s an Edinburgh Airport exclusive, further adding to its rarity.
10. Johnnie Walker Black Label Directors Cut Blade Runner 2049 Whisky
It isn’t just film buffs that love this unique, limited-edition blend of investment whisky. While slightly less scarce at 39,000 bottles created, the special packaging and unique, smoky twist are sure to make the value of this collector’s item shoot up over time.
With a starting price of £399.95, if you’re looking for a long-term proposal, this may be one of the best whisky to buy for investment. You won’t see a return quickly, but it’s an excellent collector’s piece to have in the meantime.
With whisky now a fully-fledged investment field, finding the best whisky to invest in is the key to seeing that fantastic return on investment beyond 2023.
But as with jewellery, cars, or watches, time adds value: so patience is required to really see the worth when you whisky invest direct online or through a broker. Rare whisky investment is very much in its infancy, so now is the best time to invest in what you can, and maybe take a few small risks up-front to see what works for you.
Hibiki 21 Year (Wooden Box Limited Edition)
With a beautiful depiction of Mt Fuji on its limited-edition case, this 2,000-run Japanese whisky is incredibly ornate, further adding to its appeal at auction. With a single bottle selling for €800 at auction in 2017, Hibiki’s limited edition whisky is likely worth even more today, making it amongst the best whisky to buy for investment in 2023.
What is the most collectible whisky in 2023? (Further Thoughts)
When it comes to whiskey investment in 2023, as we have seen, the lots that are going under the virtual hammer are bottles spanning five decades; the oldest was bottled in 1945, while the most recent was bottled 30 years ago, in 1987.
Perhaps the most eye-catching lot to invest in is lot 42, which contains one bottle of The Macallan whisky from every year in 1954-1986. The collection of 33 bottles has been valued at between £57,000 – £72,000.
Another one of the best whiskey to invest in (and the costliest) is the Macallan Selected Reserve 1946, originally bottled in 1998 as a 52-year-old whisky. Of course, in 2023, this whisky is more than 70 years old and has been valued at £7,800 – £9,800.
Another lot to keep an eye out for in 2023 when considering investing in whisky is a collection of Macallan Gran Reserva whiskies, one for each year from 1979 to 1982. This collection is expected to fetch between £6,700 and £8,800.
Much like fine wines, old and rare whiskies will often be of particular investment value to collectors.
When it comes to provenance, the head of wine and whisky at Bonhams Hong Kong once said that they often pick The Macallan distillery because they believe it is one of the best investment whiskey, loved by collectors, investors, and enthusiasts alike. Certain whisky enthusiasts may disagree with the accuracy of that statement, but there’s no doubt that the brand is among the very elite in the world of Scotch whisky.
Here at New Bond Street Pawnbrokers, we manage multiple portfolios of valuable collections, and recently we achieved a sale on behalf of a client at Bonham’s that was particularly memorable.
If you’re looking to pawn fine wines, get in touch with us today. Our Blenheim Street shop is based in the heart of Mayfair. Appointments can be made, but are not 100% necessary; we’re always happy to take walk-ins. We look forward to seeing you – and your fine wines – very soon. Some of the wine we loan against includes Chateau Petrus, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Lafite, and Chateau Mouton to name just a few.
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