WHAT AFFECTS THE VALUE OF WHISKY?

What is a cask of whisky worth?

Some casks of whisky can sell for over £200,000, some others may only sell for around £5,000.  What makes some casks worth more than others? 

It is not as simple as you may think and there are a large number of interlinking factors.  It is a combination of all of the below features that makes a bottle or cask expensive, and likewise worthless.

Distilleries

By far the most important contributing factor to the value of your whisky is the distillery who made it. 

If you have a cask of Macallan whisky then you are very fortunate indeed.  Demand for Macallan single malt whisky is particularly high from the Far East, especially in Hong Kong.

Mark Littler at the Glengoyne No.1 Warehouse
Mark Littler at the Glengoyne No.1 Warehouse

It is not just Macallan whisky that is in demand.  With over 100 distilleries in Scotland producing single malt whisky buyers are spoilt for choice.  The most popular, and thus most valuable, are from the following distillers:

Ardbeg, Bowmore, Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Mortlach, Port Ellen, Rosebank, Springbank.

If you have a whisky cask from another distiller this is not to say that it is not valuable as there is more than one variable that makes a cask of single malt whisky commercial (more details about these features are listed below).

Age of whisky

The next most important contributing factor to the value of your cask of single malt whisky is the age of the whisky.  The age of the whisky is simply the time that the whisky has spent in the cask.  Once the spirit is over 5 years old there is no requirement to bottle a single malt whisky at a particular age.  The most popular bottling ages are when the whisky is 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 years old.

One common misnomer is that a whisky will continue to improve with age.  It has been shown in many instances that once a whisky reaches 18 years old it is physically impossible to draw and more flavour from the casks.  If this is to be believed then there is no point maturing whisky past 18 years old.  However, the market has a different opinion and older casks are valued much more than younger casks as the scarcity of casks becomes a contributing factor.

Type of cask

The type of cask your whisky has been placed into is the main contributing factor to the style of your single malt whisky.  The cask imbues the whisky with its character and adds complex flavours and aromas.  The main types of cask that are used are:

Bourbon, Burgundy, Madeira, Port, Sherry, Sauternes Bordeaux (red), Tokaji, Ruby Port, Barolo, Chardonnay, Muscat, Rum, Amarone, Marsala.

Buyers from the Far East are particularly interested in the sweeter single malts, so any Sherry or Madeira casks command a premium.

What is a cask of whisky worth

Size of cask

Whisky matures quicker in smaller barrels as the surface area is bigger in relation to the volume of spirit.  American Standard Barrels (ASB), which come from the production of Bourbon, are the starting ingredient for the Standard Hogshead (SH).  Roughly four or five ABS’s are used to make three SH casks.

The capacity of the most commonly found barrels are as follows:

  1. American Standard Barrel/Bourbon Barrel  200 litres
  2. Butt 500 litres
  3. Quarter Cask  125 litres
  4. Standard Hogshead  238 litres

Clearly, the more whisky you have, the more potential value there is in your cask.

What is a cask of whisky worth?

Some casks of whisky can sell for over £200,000, some others may only sell for around £5,000.  What makes some casks worth more than others? 

It is not as simple as you may think and there are a large number of interlinking factors.  It is a combination of all of the below features that makes a bottle or cask expensive, and likewise worthless.

Distilleries

By far the most important contributing factor to the value of your whisky is the distillery who made it. 

If you have a cask of Macallan whisky then you are very fortunate indeed.  Demand for Macallan single malt whisky is particularly high from the Far East, especially in Hong Kong.

Mark Littler at the Glengoyne No.1 Warehouse
Mark Littler at the Glengoyne No.1 Warehouse

It is not just Macallan whisky that is in demand.  With over 100 distilleries in Scotland producing single malt whisky buyers are spoilt for choice.  The most popular, and thus most valuable, are from the following distillers:

Ardbeg, Bowmore, Glenlivet, Glenfarclas, Glenmorangie, Highland Park, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Mortlach, Port Ellen, Rosebank, Springbank.

If you have a whisky cask from another distiller this is not to say that it is not valuable as there is more than one variable that makes a cask of single malt whisky commercial (more details about these features are listed below).

Age of whisky

The next most important contributing factor to the value of your cask of single malt whisky is the age of the whisky.  The age of the whisky is simply the time that the whisky has spent in the cask.  Once the spirit is over 5 years old there is no requirement to bottle a single malt whisky at a particular age.  The most popular bottling ages are when the whisky is 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 years old.

One common misnomer is that a whisky will continue to improve with age.  It has been shown in many instances that once a whisky reaches 18 years old it is physically impossible to draw and more flavour from the casks.  If this is to be believed then there is no point maturing whisky past 18 years old.  However, the market has a different opinion and older casks are valued much more than younger casks as the scarcity of casks becomes a contributing factor.

Type of cask

The type of cask your whisky has been placed into is the main contributing factor to the style of your single malt whisky.  The cask imbues the whisky with its character and adds complex flavours and aromas.  The main types of cask that are used are:

Bourbon, Burgundy, Madeira, Port, Sherry, Sauternes Bordeaux (red), Tokaji, Ruby Port, Barolo, Chardonnay, Muscat, Rum, Amarone, Marsala.

Buyers from the Far East are particularly interested in the sweeter single malts, so any Sherry or Madeira casks command a premium.

What is a cask of whisky worth

Size of cask

Whisky matures quicker in smaller barrels as the surface area is bigger in relation to the volume of spirit.  American Standard Barrels (ASB), which come from the production of Bourbon, are the starting ingredient for the Standard Hogshead (SH).  Roughly four or five ABS’s are used to make three SH casks.

The capacity of the most commonly found barrels are as follows:

  1. American Standard Barrel/Bourbon Barrel  200 litres
  2. Butt 500 litres
  3. Quarter Cask  125 litres
  4. Standard Hogshead  238 litres

Clearly, the more whisky you have, the more potential value there is in your cask.

What is my cask worth?

In order to provide you with an accurate valuation please provide as much of the below information as you can. There is more information about each section below the form.

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