How to Invest in Whisky: Updated Beginners Guide 2024

by Ryan Fazackerley
Director of Cask Sales at Whisky 1901

FCA registered, Ryan is a seasoned whisky trader with over 10 years’ experience in global equity trading. He is passionate about the spirits industry and has an impressive track record in the financial sector.

Ryan has developed a deep understanding of the whisky market, both from a financial and a connoisseur’s perspective. He is known for his ability to identify market trends early on and for making astute investments that deliver strong returns. Ryan’s expertise in finance combined with a love for whisky make him a valuable asset to any individual looking at how to invest in whisky in this rapidly growing industry.

With the first month

of a new year already over, now is the time that many of us will turn our attention to reviewing and resetting goals for the months ahead. When it comes to investments, the personal investment landscape has changed massively over the past few years. Today, many more options are available and accessible to both private and corporate investors looking for something a little different.

The Scotch Whisky industry is going from strength to strength. Today it provides £7.1bn in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy. Once a rare commodity limited to industry insiders, private and corporate investors can now easily add whisky casks to their investment portfolios. With prices starting at around £5,000, one of the world’s top performing luxury investments is accessible to many more today. But just how to invest in whisky and knowing where to start can be a minefield.

Read on for our six top tips on investing in whisky for beginners.

1. Do your homework

When considering whisky investment, it’s important to do your research to find a reputable whisky broker to help you understand how to invest in whisky. A knowledgeable consultant should be able to guide you through the entire process of purchasing, owning, managing, and eventually realising your whisky cask investment. So it’s important that you have full confidence in the company and trust their expertise.

We recommend checking that the company’s consultants have the appropriate qualifications and accreditations. For example, that they are Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and/or Edinburgh Whisky Academy certified.

You should only work with a company that has a WOWGR licence – this confirms that they have been approved and audited by HMRC to own, buy and sell goods in duty suspension in a bonded warehouse. It’s also worth checking whether the company has a lawyer or legal partner that can advise you along the way, as well administrating legal transfer of ownership should you choose to proceed with purchasing a cask.

2. Have a clear goal in mind

Think about why you are investing. Are you saving for a deposit on a home, retirement or to leave a legacy for future generations? What’s your budget and investment timeline? What’s your appetite for risk?

Although whisky casks start at around £5,000, investments typically range between £30,000 to £50,000 and we recommend a minimum five-to-10-year investment. Generally, the longer you hold a cask the more the whisky in it improves and the greater the return.

At Whisky 1901, we make it our mission to connect investors with the right whisky cask based on their unique set of circumstances so it’s important to consider your goal, seeking independent financial advice if necessary.

3. Understand the process

If you decide to invest in a cask, you’ll need to provide identification and proof of UK residence to carry out Anti Money Laundering (AML) checks. If you work with Whisky 1901, on completion of these checks, you’ll receive a Certificate of Purchase to sign and our bank account details. Once this is signed and payment is made in full, the legal and beneficial entitlement to your cask passes to you.

We’ll issue a legal document called a Bailment Contract confirming your cask’s transfer of ownership to you. This includes a Unique Cask Number, a Delivery Order and the signatures of both parties. This common law agreement certifies that you are the legal owner of the cask.

4. Choose the right cask

As and when you decide to proceed with an investment, you’ll need to pick a cask that aligns with your investment goal. With 148 Scotch whisky distilleries operating across six regions in Scotland: Campbeltown, Highlands, Islay, Lowlands, Speyside and Islands, choosing the right cask can be challenging for a beginner so it’s worth getting expert advice.

It’s important to select distilleries based on merit, history and worldwide demand. At Whisky 1901, we only work with the top 20-40 distilleries in Scotland, owned by brands Diageo, Suntory Holdings and Edrington Group, i.e. those that invest their money back into marketing and tourism which, in turn, increases the brand value and credibility.

5. Track the performance of your investment

Naturally, you’ll want to monitor performance. Our investors receive quarterly updates on current whisky market performance.

Every two years, you’ll receive analysis of your specific investment with projected ROI based on market prices. Quarterly investment updates from our consultants also provide information on current whisky market performance.

Our investors can also access details of their investment portfolio via an online dashboard.

6. How to exit the market

When it comes to selling or realising your investment, there are various options available to you. You may wish to sell on the open market or, if you work with us, sell to our existing client base.

We have investors interested in both new and mature casks and/or we can help source potential buyers from a broad professional network of brokers and collectors to make sure your cask goes for a healthy price.

Alternatively, you can choose to sell at auction. This has become a popular way of selling cask whisky as the process requires minimal effort. It’s also possible to sell back to whisky brands as distillers often ‘run short’ of stock. Or you may even wish to bottle and brand your whisky to sell to the retail market, or simply enjoy the product yourself. Here at Whisky 1901 we recently launched our own bottling service for cask investors looking to exit the market in this way.

We not only advise on how to invest in whisky but how to realise your investment when the time is right.


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