Low Supply, High Demand of Rare Whisky Driving Surge in Value

Low Supply, High Demand of Rare Whisky Driving Surge in Value

With the days getting chillier in the Northern hemisphere, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a warming glass of whisky. And with global supplies of fine bottles dwindling, it’s also the perfect time to start collecting.

Demand for rare whisky is "accelerating at an extraordinary rate" according to Rare Whisky 101, a broker that recently revealed that the number of bottles sold at auction in the first half of 2015 hit a new record.

More than 20,000 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky were sold on the open market in the first six months of 2015, up by more than a third over last year – with the value up by 33%.

Whisky investing is young compared to art and wine. As it grows, auctions are attracting larger followings, as increasing competition combined with low supply is pushing prices up. Single malts and discontinued brands being in particularly high demand.

"The dearth of truly collectable releases over recent years has only fuelled demand for older and discontinued past releases where quality and rarity are powerful motivations for purchase," says Andy Simpson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101.

Even the thriving collectible Scotch single malt market pales next to the rapid growth in demand for Japanese whiskies. The value of Karuizawa bottles, whose distillery stopped producing in 2000, were higher than last year, and a 1960 bottle of Karuizawa set a new record for a Japanese whisky sold an auction when it was bought for 918,750 Hong Kong dollars this month.

Whether the popularity of overseas brands is here to stay or not, Simpson has some tips for those considering investing in whisky:

  • Stick to well-known brands
  • Buy new bottles immediately upon release or buy older, previously released bottles
  • Closed distilleries are a great source as they can’t produce any more whisky for the market
  • Bottles which are measured in fluid ounces rather than centiliters are more sought after by collectors and investors
  • Look out for rare bottles and special editions. Go for cask-strength bottles and single cask with a vintage

When buying, especially online, stay alert for forgeries – oddly low prices, poor label printing, and no duty stamp are all revealing signs.

Keep bottles at their best at room temperature in an upright position. Unlike wine, you’ll want to avoid contact between cork and whisky. If you keep it at home, you’ll want to insure it as well.

Finally, remember that whisky doesn’t really "go off" – it will still be delicious done the road if you decide to drink it rather than keep or sell it!

Whisky or Whiskey?

It’s rumored the Irish added the ‘e’ to distinguish their product from the poorer-quality Scotch whisky being exported in the late 1800s. The general rule now is that countries that don’t have an ‘e’ in their name (like Canada, Scotland and Japan) spell it with no ‘e.’ Those that do, such as the US and Ireland, include the ‘e.’

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