In January 2023 we were thrilled to be part of the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme’s The Wild West of Whisky: From Cask Investment to Dram Scams. This is a really important listen for anyone interested in cask investment, or just whisky investment in general and it was our pleasure to be involved.
In December 2022 we were contacted by Robbie Armstrong who wanted to know if we would be interested in making some comments for a BBC Radio 4 Food Programme mini documentary on cask investment that was scheduled for January 2023. Public education around cask investment is a topic that we have been actively campaigning about for years now so we jumped at the chance to be voiced on an international platform like Radio 4.
It is true that over the last three decades cask ownership has been beneficial to both the industry and to some private customers. In the 1990s distilleries like Springbank and Bruichladdich sold casks to the public to help them relaunch after the 1980s whisky loch forced some to close or pause production. Many of the customers who bought those casks have seen great returns. However buying casks is not without risks; there are swathes of historic scams from that same period and current headlines show the risk is not a thing of the past.
The programme doesn’t just talk about the public either. The knock on impact to independent bottlers is that some are being priced out of certain whiskies where secondary market prices are being driven by investors rather than the trade. Or the Glenfarclas visitor centre being targeted by thieves after bottles as awareness of rising bottle prices becomes more widespread.
The Radio 4 documentary does a great job of concisely getting to the heart of some of the issues around buying casks of whisky, from the risks to consumers to the impact on the industry. Featuring comments from Mark Littler alongside Blair Bowman and others.
The reality is that most people are only exposed to whisky investment through overwhelmingly positive advertisements that cask investment companies pay to put in front of them. More content such as this is needed to give the public a bank of information sources so that if they do decide to invest in whisky it is knowing the full picture.
Hopefully 2023 will be the year that the public FINALLY are given the information they need to invest safely and rogue players will no longer be able to tarnish our incredible industry again.
You can listen to ‘The Wild West of Whisky: From Cask Investment to Dram Scams’ on the BBC website here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001hdnl