If you’re a lover of whisky or looking for a shrewd investment—or even both—then you might be considering starting your own whisky collection. For whisky lovers, owning the broadest possible selection of bottles can be an enticing prospect.
More and more people are cottoning onto these potential financial benefits. The UK rare whisky auction market grew by a remarkable 76% in 2017, with 83,713 bottles of whisky sold at an average price of £299, whilst headlines were made when a world record £848,000 bottle of Scotch was sold at a 2018 auction.
Whatever your motivation is for starting your own whisky collection, there are certain things you can do to make the most out of your venture, which we have outlined below.
- Research, research, research
Doing your homework is the only way you’ll develop your palate and discover more of the types of whisky you love. It will also enable you to find out what’s hot in the market—only then can you become a bona fide whisky aficionado, and build up a collection of potentially profitable bottles.
One way to gain the whisky education you need is to go to bars with extensive selections so you can try different brands and styles. Tasting events are also useful, as you can pay to sample higher-end whiskies, which will really give you a feel for what you like and may enlighten you about what is popular.
Alongside this, you should make sure to read as much as you can about different whiskies. Get to understand how each style has different recipes, distillation techniques and ageing methods, as knowledge like this will help inform your purchasing decisions later down the line. Going on distillery tours is another great way to help you gain a comprehensive whisky insight, whilst high-end events like the Scotch Whisky Experience can also broaden your whisky horizons.
- Make sure to network
Don’t treat your whisky collecting exactly like a job, but just as it is in your work life, it is important to network and build connections with like-minded collectors. Forming relationships with fellow whisky lovers will give you people to trade whisky with, and will help you to keep on learning and developing your palate.
One way to network is to join a local drinking club. There is an abundance of whisky societies across the country, such as The Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, which has venues throughout Scotland and London. It can also be beneficial to find an online community, such as Connosr, so you can network with others whenever you like. Platforms such as this have features like discussion boards and peer reviews of different whiskies, enabling whisky lovers to trade bottles and gain invaluable insight from one another. Finally, hitting the whisky festival circuit is highly recommended, with festivals like The Whisky Exchange Show, The National Whisky Festival and The Manchester Whisky Festival all surefire ways to network. And you get to spend the entire weekend drinking whisky.
- Exercise due diligence when buying whisky
At this stage, you should be ready to start buying your whisky, but it is vital that you mull over every potential purchase with extreme care. You want to make sure you’re getting value for money and that you aren’t getting scammed.
There are a variety of ways you can buy whisky, from exchanging with peers to online auctions. However, be wary of the pitfalls of different vendors. For instance, whilst online auctions are potentially an excellent place to find good bottles, they come with added risks, as you are essentially buying whisky blind. One risk is that investors won’t be able to inspect the bottle or examine the label’s condition, and both are highly important factors in determining a whisky’s value. Likewise, make sure to stick to reputable auction houses that carry out hallmarking and authentication, and only trade with people you trust. You can also buy whisky from retail stores, but be sure to pay attention to reviews—a whisky with a buzz around it is more likely to be a better investment.
It is also recommended that collectors prioritise the brand over the quality of whisky itself, as the reputation of these brands has been established over time, meaning they will always be in demand. Buying limited release products from such brands is also advisable, as they typically fetch higher resale figures. However, a combination of these two factors is also worth expanding your whisky collection for, for example, J&B Rare is a long established offering for Justerini & Brooks and is a great addition to just about any whisky collection.
Tracking down bottles which are no longer sold by retailers, and buying good quality whisky from closed distilleries are two further ways you can purchase whisky with investment potential. Finally, set yourself a budget based on what you can afford, and make sure you stick to it.
- Get your whisky valued by professionals
If you’re looking to make a profit from your whisky collection, there will come a point where you’ll want to offload bottles you own. However, it is imperative you that call upon the services of professional valuers to value your collection before you do so, as this is the only way to guarantee that your whisky sells for the right price.
Many companies, offer free whisky valuations and can use their extensive insight and experience to inform you exactly how much your alcohol is worth. Otherwise, you could end up selling it for considerably less than its market value. Getting your collection valued will help you distinguish between the whisky you should keep as part of your collection and the bottles you should part with.
From doing as much research as possible to getting your whisky professionally valued, follow the above tips and you should not only end up with a stellar collection but potentially make some serious money in the future.