Beamish International's Charles Beamish was recently featured in the Club Oenologique Magazine as Richard Woodard takes a look at the seemingly unstoppable price rises in the world of super-premium Scotch.
In this magazine feature, Richard Woodard speaks with Charles Beamish to explore how the rare whisky space has developed over the last few years as well as some dos and don’ts of collecting and investing in whisky.
"In such a fast-moving bull market, accurate assessments of true value are elusive. The constantly expanding global audience of drinkers, collectors and investors is navigating an ever more complex marketplace, from traditional specialist retailers to auction houses and, increasingly, direct relationships with the distilleries themselves. They are buying bottles, collections and casks, and their demands are becoming more and more specific: this distillery, that age, personalised labelling, bespoke bottles."
"Beamish works directly with brand owners, overseeing the buying process from origin to execution – in other words, delivering the whisky to the client. The company offers a range of services, but perhaps its most important function is one of fulfilment: helping buyer and brand owner to complete what can be a fiendishly complicated journey. The entire procedure to source rare bottles or casks can take as long as six months, simply because the specifications from customers can be so precise, and the supply side is so infinite."
"In particular, the proliferation of companies and brokers selling casks for investment purposes has the industry worried – so worried that a working group of experts including (among others) Beamish, Geoff Kirk (The Macallan) and collector and The Whisky Exchange and Elixir Distillers founder Sukhinder Singh is demanding action. Following a round-table discussion in October, the group drew up a range of proposals, which will form the basis for a Rare Whisky White Paper in 2023. Many of the points relate to the sale of casks to consumers, calling for increased regulation, perhaps through some kind of licensing scheme drawn up under the auspices of the Scotch Whisky Association."
Collecting and investing in whisky: Dos and don’ts
- Don’t forget that whisky as an investment asset is in its infancy: while short-term gains have been dramatic, longer-term trends are much harder to assess.
- Do your homework: knowledge and experience are vital when prices plateau or decline. Never stop learning, and lean on trusted merchants and auction houses.
- Buy carefully: seek out retailers and auction houses with a proven track record – their expertise is invaluable, and they’re a safer bet when it comes to provenance.
- Scarcity is your friend, so closed distilleries, discontinued bottlings and limited editions are a good bet. And buy what you love – after all, you may have to drink it.
- Exercise caution with whisky investment funds and ask lots of questions. Who’s behind it? What accreditation and experience do they have?
- What extra charges are involved? For casks, these might relate to storage, insurance, gauging (checking strength and volume) and transportation.
- With casks, factor in bottling costs, including excise duty and VAT – likely to run to several thousand pounds for one cask. Check every detail about your cask: what it is, where it’s stored, contractual limitations related to trademarks and bottling, as well as the fine print in the paperwork.