WHISKY CASKS &
THE KNIGHT FRANK INDEX

Investment in bottles of rare whisky cannot be compared to investing in casks of whisky; bottles and casks are in the same family but are a fundamentally different product

Whisky Casks and the Knight Frank Index

Video Guide 1 of 10

In 2018 bottles of rare whisky were included in the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index for the first time after they outperformed gold, art and jewellery. While this confirms that whisky is now considered a luxury asset, you cannot use the success of whisky bottles to indicate how a cask of whisky might perform as an asset.

Bottles and casks of whisky are fundamentally different products, and comparing them is like comparing buying bricks and mortar versus purchasing a luxury, penthouse apartment in a nice part of London: One can be used to make the other, but without the other key ingredients that go into making a premium, sought-after product (having the right land, architects, builders, decorators etc. in the case of an apartment and having the right name to put on your bottle and the correct licences in the case of whisky) you simply have a large quantity of building material, which you probably need to pay to store.

Buying bottles of rare whisky

Rare whisky bottles are not bought to consume. They are purchased as a status symbol, and that status is determined by the branding of the bottle and the scarcity, which give the bottle a subjective value. Collectable bottles are usually limited edition, no longer available and by and large they are released by the distillery.

For example, the bottle of whisky that broke the record for the most expensive bottle of whisky bought at action, sold for £1.2 million in 2018, it was a one-off, hand-painted bottle of Macallan from 1926. It is impossible to compare this product to your modern cask of whisky, which if it has a healthy RLA and bulk litres (discussed in video guide 4) contains several 100 bottles, and which cannot be bottled under the distillery’s name – not to mention the cost of bottling, which we cover in video guide 3.

Buying a cask of whisky

When you buy a cask of whisky you are simply buying whisky. The whisky is likely to go up in value as historically the value of whisky has always increased with age, because of the nature of the product:

  • The spirit is considered to improve with age
  • It gets scarcer with age as most barrels are used at 12-years-old or younger
  • The quantity within each cask decreases due to natural evaporation

However, it is unlikely that you have the name required to put on the bottle of whisky that will drive that whisky into the status of a collectors’ item, because only distilleries are able to use the official names. And, as mention previously, your product is not considered exclusive – you may only have one cask, but a hogshead with 210 bulk litres has the potential to fill 300 standard 700ml bottles at cask strength, and is possibly one of many casks filled at the same time.

The case of your cask being one of many can be improved by keeping your whisky for long enough – less than 10% of whisky casks filled in any one year remain after 12 years, which is one of the reasons why the value of whisky has always increased with age, and is why we recommend planning to buy young casks and keep them for at least 15 years. However, there is still the issue of branding and marketing, which you are unlikely to be able to drive to the levels that produce the most collectable bottles.

Then why invest in casks of whisky?

A whisky cask can be a solid asset and produce healthy returns.

We have sold casks of whisky for our customers for up to £147,000 for a single cask purchased for £3,000. Those customers bought the right whisky, kept it for the optimum amount of time and sold it at the correct time for the market, with a broker who was able to get the best price.

The above information is intended to allow you to distinguish between the two different ways of investing in whisky; bottles versus casks, to ensure that you are making the right investment for you.

You can find out more about buying a cask of whisky with Mark Littler Ltd. by signing up to receive our whisky buying guide; a free magazine that goes through everything you need to consider when you are looking at investing in whisky casks.

Whisky cask investment guide - free printed magazine

Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know before you buy a cask of whisky:

  • Visiting your cask
  • Our proven investment strategy
  • Choosing a cask size & type
  • Why whisky casks shouldn’t be compared to the Knight Frank Index
  • Selling your cask
  • And much more

Investment in bottles of rare whisky cannot be compared to investing in casks of whisky; bottles and casks are in the same family but are a fundamentally different product

Whisky Casks and the Knight Frank Index

Video Guide 1 of 10

In 2018 bottles of rare whisky were included in the Knight Frank Luxury Investment Index for the first time after they outperformed gold, art and jewellery. While this confirms that whisky is now considered a luxury asset, you cannot use the success of whisky bottles to indicate how a cask of whisky might perform as an asset.

Bottles and casks of whisky are fundamentally different products, and comparing them is like comparing buying bricks and mortar versus purchasing a luxury, penthouse apartment in a nice part of London: One can be used to make the other, but without the other key ingredients that go into making a premium, sought-after product (having the right land, architects, builders, decorators etc. in the case of an apartment and having the right name to put on your bottle and the correct licences in the case of whisky) you simply have a large quantity of building material, which you probably need to pay to store.

Buying bottles of rare whisky

Rare whisky bottles are not bought to consume. They are purchased as a status symbol, and that status is determined by the branding of the bottle and the scarcity, which give the bottle a subjective value. Collectable bottles are usually limited edition, no longer available and by and large they are released by the distillery.

For example, the bottle of whisky that broke the record for the most expensive bottle of whisky bought at action, sold for £1.2 million in 2018, it was a one-off, hand-painted bottle of Macallan from 1926. It is impossible to compare this product to your modern cask of whisky, which if it has a healthy RLA and bulk litres (discussed in video guide 4) contains several 100 bottles, and which cannot be bottled under the distillery’s name – not to mention the cost of bottling, which we cover in video guide 3.

Buying a cask of whisky

When you buy a cask of whisky you are simply buying whisky. The whisky is likely to go up in value as historically the value of whisky has always increased with age, because of the nature of the product:

  • The spirit is considered to improve with age
  • It gets scarcer with age as most barrels are used at 12-years-old or younger
  • The quantity within each cask decreases due to natural evaporation

However, it is unlikely that you have the name required to put on the bottle of whisky that will drive that whisky into the status of a collectors’ item, because only distilleries are able to use the official names. And, as mention previously, your product is not considered exclusive – you may only have one cask, but a hogshead with 210 bulk litres has the potential to fill 300 standard 700ml bottles at cask strength, and is possibly one of many casks filled at the same time.

The case of your cask being one of many can be improved by keeping your whisky for long enough – less than 10% of whisky casks filled in any one year remain after 12 years, which is one of the reasons why the value of whisky has always increased with age, and is why we recommend planning to buy young casks and keep them for at least 15 years. However, there is still the issue of branding and marketing, which you are unlikely to be able to drive to the levels that produce the most collectable bottles.

Then why invest in casks of whisky?

A whisky cask can be a solid asset and produce healthy returns.

We have sold casks of whisky for our customers for up to £147,000 for a single cask purchased for £3,000. Those customers bought the right whisky, kept it for the optimum amount of time and sold it at the correct time for the market, with a broker who was able to get the best price.

The above information is intended to allow you to distinguish between the two different ways of investing in whisky; bottles versus casks, to ensure that you are making the right investment for you.

You can find out more about buying a cask of whisky with Mark Littler Ltd. by signing up to receive our Whisky Buying Guide; a free magazine that goes through everything you need to consider when you are looking at investing in whisky casks.