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Tag: Whisky

Male worker opening wooden whisky cask in whisky distillery

8 tips to know before investing in whisky, according to an expert

From The Macallan to Yamazaki, the price of whisky can range from a few hundred bucks to costing more than a five-room flat. But instead of pissing it away at the end of an evening, why not turn those drams into dollars? We mined a whisky business expert for some tips on investing in the coveted spirit.

Rickesh Kishnani has been making money from whisky for years. In 2014, he launched the world’s first private equity fund focused on rare single malt whiskies with an initial investment of US$12 million (S$16.4 million). The fund exited the market this September at US$26 million (S$35.6 million), generating a 17 percent gross annual rate of return.

The Hong Kong native also cofounded the Glenor Cask Company in 2019, which offers barrels of single malt whiskies for sale, and helped raise capital to build Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh. Through his company Rare Whisky Holdings, Kishnani also holds a significant stake in the online auction business Whisky Hammer and the e commerce platform Still Spirit.

From how much to invest to what bottles to look out for, read on for Kishnani’s eight tips to know before investing in whisky.

1. Look for a reputable seller

“If you’re just getting started, the biggest thing is to find a trusted whisky merchant who can guide you through the process. For example, they should give you a sample first before you buy a cask. A lot of merchants these days try to offer lists and prices but they don’t let you taste what you’re going to buy. That’s the first red flag.”

“The second thing is to make sure that they have all the correct licenses and ownership paperwork to be able to properly transfer a cask into your name. If you live outside the United Kingdom, you need a company to be your third party duty representative with HMCR (Her Majesty’s Custom and Revenues). You should be able to ask a merchant for their third party duty rep license, and get a delivery order that is signed by the warehouse and the seller.”

“Unfortunately, there are some people out there that are taking advantage of newcomers. If you’re dealing with a whisky merchant that is trying to push you into it, don’t fall for these sales tactics. That’s another red flag.”

2. Stash your investment away

“For a lot of people who buy bottles, they keep those they like to drink at home and store their investment somewhere else. Likewise with casks, which we help them to keep in Scotland. So, it’s just keeping that separation and knowing from the beginning that, ‘Hey, this is stuff I’m going to drink, this is stuff for investment.’ ”

3. Think about casks…

“When you invest in a cask, the value and the price generally go up. Not always, but assuming you have a good cask, good brand and good value, the industry average growth is about 12 to 15 percent return per year. We advise our clients to invest in an 8 to 12 year old cask and hold it for a minimum of three to five years, but it can also be longer. Then they can sell it as an 18 year old. As the age goes up, the value goes up, and you don’t have to worry about external factors and other asset classes.

4. Or hyper rare bottles

“We found that the higher returns are generally on the cask versus the bottles. However, you do find some bottles that appreciate much higher. Right now at our auction, we have a bottle of Yamazaki 55 that is estimated to be anywhere between £400,000 to £500,000 (S$730,500 to S$913,200). It was originally released somewhere around US$60,000 (S$82,200).”

5. Invest in what you can afford

“You can start with as little as you want. You can start with a few bottles. If you’re starting with a cask, our general advice would be probably £10,000 (S$18,200). That would be a minimum level of investment to buy one cask of whisky, which is a great starting point.”

6. This is not a get rich quick scheme

“This isn’t a buy Bitcoin today, sell Bitcoin tomorrow type of asset class. It’s about discipline and setting a clear expectation of return. If you’re trying to achieve, for example, 15 percent per year net IRR (internal rate of return), you have to think, ‘Is it achievable in the whisky market?’ Once you have achieved that over a five year period, then it’s time to start exiting.”

7. Look for aged and vintage bottles

“If you’re investing in bottles, my recommendation would be to look into Macallan. Old vintage Macallan has always been performing very, very well. It’s still the number one brand that’s being traded at auctions. But it’s got to be old, around 18 years and up. When we look at vintage, we mean that it was bottled at least 10 years ago, but ideally as far back as you can go.”

“The other one is aged Japanese, so any Yamazaki or Karuizawa. These distilleries have traditionally done well if they have some sort of age on it.”

“The last is what we call silent stills. Closed distilleries. There are actually three closed distilleries that are going to reopen, which are Brora, Port Ellen and Rosebank. But it’s going to take them 10, 20 years to have an aged whisky. Old bottles from those distilleries are not cheap, but they’re a good bet.”

8. Irish and American whiskies could do well

“There are some Irish whiskies that are doing well. American bourbon, especially some of the top brands and the high age whiskies, are getting a lot of demand. Those two are coming up but you have to be much pickier and selective in those markets. Beyond that, there are many countries around the world that are starting to produce whiskies, but I personally would not grade them as investment quality yet. We don’t have that history of price appreciation. It’s all still new.”


Diageo aims to warm up net-zero credentials with Fife solar farm plans

Spirits giant Diageo – Scotland’s biggest whisky producer by volume – has applied for planning permission for a major on-site solar energy farm at its Leven packaging plant.

Should the plans get the green light, they would see 12,000 solar panels capable of producing four megawatts of electricity installed on vacant land at the 150-acre plant, which produces 40 million cases of premium spirits each year.

The owner of brands including Johnnie Walker and Guinness said the move is part of its plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from its direct operations by 2030 – and it is working with energy company E.ON and Emtec Energy, a local Scottish business, to develop the solar-panel farm.

The latter would be entirely within the existing footprint of the Leven packaging plant site

and is planned carefully to ensure minimal visual and environmental impact on the surrounding area.

Does making whiskey harm the environment?

Gavin Brogan, operations director at the Leven packaging plant, said: “We have been on the journey to environmental sustainability at Leven for many years and we have made great progress, but this solar array would take us to another level, allowing us to generate our own renewable energy onsite and contributing to Diageo’s global ambition to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“We have planned this carefully and we are happy to engage our neighbours and local stakeholders during the planning application process.”

The firm added that in Scotland, three of its Scotch whisky distilleries – Oban, Royal Lochnagar and Brora – have already achieved net-zero carbon emissions. Diageo also recently confirmed that its Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh will open on September 6.


Greener whisky: Scottish distilleries working on reducing carbon footprint

As world leaders gather in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference, many will be sampling a dram or two of Scotland’s famous whiskies.

And they may even take note of how the industry is leading the way to create a carbon-neutral future.

One of Scotland’s most prestigious whisky makers, Oban, has been looking at ways of reducing its carbon footprint in the whisky-making process.

In 2018, the distillery switched from using fossil fuels to a rapeseed oil biofuel, reducing the distillery’s carbon footprint by 98 per cent.

“It’s given us a transition fuel to be carbon neutral quicker. We have been carbon neutral now since late 2020. It’s allowing us to make that transition step towards zero carbon,” says Callum Rew, the senior site manager of Oban Distillery.

“We wanted to be out there, we wanted to be pioneering, we wanted to be there first and try and do something and learn, so as the other distilleries within Diageo can learn from ourselves.”

“And biofuel was new on the market, so we thought we’ll try it, we’ll test it, it’s a very relatively small distillery here at Oban, so it’s maybe easier to try and integrate it here first.”

Does making whiskey harm the environment?

Whisky making can be taxing on the environment. A huge amount of energy is required to extract the sugars out of the grain in the mashing process before even taking into account transporting the products all around the world.

But the industry has been taking steps to lower the environmental impact.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, since 2009, there has been a 34 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

A huge amount of energy is required to extract the sugars out of the grain in the mashing processs.”

Karen Betts, chief executive of the associations laid out the industry’s plans: “It’s really important to us that we are sustainable both now and into the future. We think that through collaboration, innovation, investment, ingenuity, and a bit of time, we can get there by 2040. And if we can get there by 2040, we absolutely should.”

On the western edge of the Scottish highlands, Ardnamurchan Distillery has been using sustainable energy sources since its opening in July 2014.

Shift leader in the distillery, Scott Stewart, says that Scotch whisky’s new green credentials will give it recognition all over the world.

“It’s what the country is famous for, it’s so famous for its whisky. So, if we can show that one of our major exports, or biggest export, is being as green as possible and as sustainable as possible and environmentally conscious, then it reflects fantastically on the whole country. And it can be an example to other industries to follow.”

It is estimated the Scottish whisky production is worth around €6.5 billion to the British exchequer and, with a little Dutch courage, the industry is aiming to reach net-zero emissions in its operations by 2040, ten years ahead of the British government’s 2050 target.


The Scotch Whisky Experience debuts sustainability line

Edinburgh’s stop for whisky aficionados has partnered with KAPDAA to make bespoke gifts from waste

Since 1988, The Scotch Whisky Experience has been helping visitors fall in love with Scotland’s national drink. Now, customers can enjoy an authentic, ethical experience following new sustainability commitments.

The Scotch Whisky Experience – which offers tours and hospitality to wanderers from around the world – has partnered with KAPDAA – The Offcut Company to inspire a new collection of upcycled gifts.

KAPDAA, is a UK-based textiles business that gives waste material a second lease of life as luxury trinkets.

The partnership will see The Scotch Whiskey Experience repurpose items no longer in use, starting with a new line of notebooks made from recycled kilts.

Operations Director Angela Dineen said: “We are doing our best to source local, sustainable products for our shop and KAPDAA allowed us to create something bespoke from items we would no longer have been using.

“We loved the ethos of KAPDAA and the story we could tell about the development of a product which was so unique to us.

“We had a pile of kilts which were no longer being worn and KAPDAA provided us with the inspiration to breathe new life into the material by creating these new notebooks – a bit like the whisky industry reusing casks for maturation we could see there was value in something someone else could no longer use.”

Staying true to its name, The Scotch Whisky Experience partners with local producers of quality products related to Scotch whisky directly, or that are inspired by whisky and the Scottish landscape.

The new collections will help the company expand as it builds back from the lockdowns, while maintaining a commitment to ethical production.

Nish Parekh, the co-founder of KAPDAA, said: “We are excited to work with The Scotch Whisky Experience as they look to expand their operations.

“The passion driving these experiences is something we can really get behind. The Scotch Whiskey Experience is always finding new ways to share its story with the world, and we’re glad to be a part of that.

“From this partnership, we also hope to show that ‘sustainability’ is not limited to the world of fashion. All businesses can make sustainable choices to enhance the experience they offer to customers.”

Angela added: “I think, generally, everyone is more aware of the crisis the planet is experiencing and we are striving to keep sustainability at the forefront of our decision-making process.

“We can see what can be done and what it means to be a sustainable business by the example KAPDAA set.

“This has given us the confidence to challenge our other suppliers to raise their game to ensure that we all do our bit to become more sustainable.“


Coventry man turns £4,700 whiskey investment into £225,000

A59-year-old father from Coventry is heading for an early retirement after turning a £4,700 investment on whiskey into a whopping £225,000.

Roger Parfitt, who works as a bank manager, bought a Macallan cask for £3,200 and a Tobermory cask for £1,500 27 years ago and has now sold the two casks to Whisky Investment Partners for a 4,600 per cent increase on his initial investment.

Roger Parfitt, who has made more than £200,000 from two casks of whiskey

Mr Parfitt has used the money to pay off his mortgage and also to bring forward his retirement by three years.

Mr Parfitt said: 

“I remember thinking, if it doesn’t appreciate in value, the worst that could happen is that you would have to get it out of the warehouse, bottle it and drink it.

“It always had that fall back for me – you could drown your sorrows if it didn’t work out financially!”
Roger Parfitt


He also plans to take his wife, Helen, to visit family in Florida, as well as a long list of fishing and golfing trips with his good friends.

However, he’s not done in investing in whiskey, despite not being an expert in the drink himself, as he sees it as a good alternative strategy for investing.


Luxury Whisky Review: Diageo’s Second Prima & Ultima Collection

In summer of last year, drinks giant Diageo announced and released its inaugural Prima & Ultima whisky collection, a series of 8 collectable bottles of rare and luxury whisky produced at its Scotch whisky distilleries.

It has now released its second Prima & Ultima collection, and its 8 bottles sourced from Auchroisk, Brora, Convalmore, Glendullan, Lagavulin, Linkwood, Mortlach and Talisker were sold collectively at £23,500 ($32,720), a bit more expensive than last year’s $25,000 batch.

Diageo’s Second Prima & Ultima Collection

Though registration has closed for anyone that wanted to purchase one of the 376 available packs, the first set of the collection will go to auction tomorrow at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong between until September 24th. Proceeds from sale will go to humanitarian charity Care International. Some individual bottles of the whiskies may also be sourced with a little luck.


With this final pack made available soon, here’s a preview of what to expect from the whiskies, as well as some information as to what makes each one stand out. This year’s collection was overseen and curated by master blender Maureen Robinson, who’s been at Diageo for over 40 years.

Here’s my usual reviews disclaimer. These reviews reflect my personal views on the whisky and that these are not requested nor considered official by Forbes in any way. The samples for the Prima & Ultima whiskies were sent to me, but opinions are always my own.

Here’s a guide to our scoring system. I grade whiskies out of 10 to the nearest half-point:

0-4 – Avoid this bottle

5/5.5 – Barely passable

6/6.5 – Decent enough, not really for me, but you might like it.

7/7.5 – Good

8/8.5 – Extremely good

9-10 – Absolutely superb

The whiskies are listed in alphabetical order:

Auchroisk 1974, 48.7% ABV

Description: Auchroisk (pronounced ‘oth-rusk’) was originally built to produce whisky that would go into blends. However, this is actually the first ever cask filled at the distillery, a single European oak butt, that now is also the oldest whisky from Auchroisk ever bottled as well.

Nose: Baked apples and oak hit first but then takes an herbal and fragrant turn towards aniseed, fennel, and celery dipped in peanut butter. Dried hay also makes an appearance.

Taste: It’s an orchard fruit and honeyed explosion to start, before a gradual transformation into something more bitter, including grapefruit and cacao nibs.

Overall: Tickles the same sense of satisfaction as certain sweet ciders. 8

Brora 1980, 49.4% ABV

Description: Brora closed up shop in the 80s (though it has since been recently rebuilt) so any old Broras that are released come from a limited stock. This bottle is a mix of three hogshead casks filled when Brora was producing peated spirit.

Nose: Barbecue chicken and teriyaki sauce combine nicely with leather, but standing out beyond anything else is a definite and robust whiff of cherry-scented children’s markers. The smoke is also very soft here.

Taste: Sweet barbecue flavors are also involved here along with that soft bonfire smoke, but a waxy mouthfeel emerges to combine with salted liquorice, and coconut and gorse bushes add a new fascinating layer.

Overall: It grows slowly but keeps going for a while, and stays classy throughout. 9

Convalmore 1984, 48.6% ABV

Description: Convalmore was one of the distilleries that was closed down during the last whisky bust in the 80s, and has since become popular with collectors. This is the last 1984 whisky from Convalmore Diageo have, which comes from three American oak hogsheads that were filled a few months before the distillery was shut.

Nose: It’s very doughy, almond croissant comes through and sticks around as pineapple, cocoa, and caramelized onions introduce themselves.

Taste: Peaches dipped into turmeric come through first, but also pears, parsley, lemons, and sharp tangy olive oil are added to the mix.

Overall: Like a fresh summer salad that has also managed to acquire some oaky richness along the way. 9

Lagavulin 1992, 47.7% ABV

Description: Five freshly charred American oak casks were filled with Lagavulin, and then blended together for this release almost 30 years later.

Nose: Black olives, mango chutney, toasted almonds, and coriander all emerge nicely. The smoke is an almost perfect balance of bonfire, smoked mackarel, and antiseptic.

Taste: Sunflower seeds, pineapples, sunflower seeds and elderflowers are nicely undergirded by green onion freshness. Everything is then wiped out by tsunami of smoked ham, ashes, and bonfires.

Overall: The initial mouthfeel is packed with all kinds of goodness before everything is beautifully demolished by complex smoke. 9.5

Linkwood 1981, 52.9% ABV

Description: This whisky was originally part of a trial where refill casks were moved into four American oak casks seasoned with Pedro Ximenez sherry. It marks one of the first times that Linkwood’s whisky was moved into a different cask for the purposes of flavor experimentation.

Nose: The creamy, bonfire-roasted marshmallow aroma that emerges is the glue that holds together grapes, graham crackers, oak, and green tea.

Taste: The cream stays and keeps serving as mortar that wonderfully unites other elements, in this case blackberries, coca cola, Twizzlers candy, and plenty of tannins.

Overall: Tastes like the halfway point between whisky and Cognac. 8.5

Mortlach 1995, 52.4% ABV

Description: Nicknamed ‘The Lone Wolf’, this 25 year old whisky comes from a single European oak butt that has been seasoned with both Oloroso and PX sherry, which is quite a weird thing. Given that this is similar to what was done with last year’s P&U Mortlach, it’s possible the lone wolf has a pack after all…

Nose: Rum and Raisin and ripe melon descends into ripe melon, pepperoni and leather. Caramel is also being freshly boiled up on a stove. Milk oolong tea also adds both an flowery and creamy tang.

Taste: Leather and cherries introduces a mouthfeel not unlike dense rye bread. Rooibos tea tannins combine with dark chocolate and cloves as well.

Overall: A fierce but rewarding Mortlach. 8.5

The Singleton 1992, 60.1% ABV

Description: Singleton is one of the oddest single malt brands out there as three different distilleries help produce it. This specific release hails from Glendullan, and consists of whiskies that were reracked into two ex-Madeira fortified wine barriques for 14 years before bottling.

Nose: Though a bit musty at first, the nose rapidly expands into white chocolate, tangy fruit, and nutmeg.

Taste: It’s a rich mouthfeel that delivers plenty of creamy and custard notes. Mango, paprika, and white pepper also come through nicely.

Overall: Cream, spice, and everything nice with a bitter twist at the end. 8

Talisker 1979, 47.5% ABV

Description: Who can object to ancient Talisker? Four refill American oak casks were selected for this bottling. Unlike most Talisker, it was matured at the distillery itself on Skye.

Nose: Fresh and sweet. Peaches, basil, and cucumbers are there but menacing undertones of seaside brine and a slightly antiseptic smoke pull things in a different direction.

Taste: The smoke emerges more here, a combination of smoked salmon and bonfires, though the seaside element still holds. The oak is also more prevalent, but mint, black peppercorns, ginger and lemon peel all manage to have a say too.

Overall: Phenomenally balanced between salty, smoky, and fresh sweet flavors. 9