Understanding Whisky Cask Investments: What is a WOWGR?

by Aaron Damiano Sparkes
Founder of Whisky 1901

One of the most important factors to consider when investing in a whisky cask is whether the company you are investing with has a WOWGR licence. But what is a WOWGR? And how does it influence your whisky cask investment journey?

What is a WOWGR?

The acronym WOWGR (pronounced WOW-GER) stands for Warehouse keepers and Owners of Warehoused Goods Regulations. This is a licence given to a company, broker, or revenue trader to buy and sell whisky casks. A WOWGR can only be issued after a series of stringent checks and due diligence carried out by the UK’s HMRC.

It goes without saying that you should never trust a whisky cask trader who doesn’t hold a WOWGR licence because it means they haven’t been through a background check by HMRC, including further checks on their business plans, cash flows, published accounts, profit and losses, and letters of intent from suppliers and potential customers.

Whisky 1901 and its warehousing partners all hold WOWGR licences, which means we take responsibility for the payment of any duty to HMRC. This is an important point because HMRC levies a customs duty on alcohol, currently at £28.74 per litre of pure alcohol.

However, as long as your cask is stored in, or transported between, HMRC bonded warehouses, duty and VAT are both suspended and are not payable until your cask is sold or removed from the bonded warehouse.

Why is it important to know about WOWGRs?

A WOWGR creates a transparent and legally documented trail of ownership. At Whisky 1901, we have worked with our legal partners to create a bespoke bailment contract for our investors. This contract certifies that we are managing a whisky cask on behalf of you, the investor, who is the legal owner.

Think of it this way: should anything happen to Whisky 1901 then your cask would not fall into the company’s assets – it belongs to you. Whisky 1901’s WOWGR licence is available upon request.

Is there legislation for WOWGRs?

There certainly is. Excise Notice 196 lays out the terms and conditions of registration and approval of excise goods held in dusty suspension in a warehouse by an authorised warehousekeeper, registered owner, duty representative, or registered consignor in the UK.

Is there a difference between a WOWGR and a Deliver Order?

Yes. Your whisky cask ownership is detailed in a Delivery Order, which is the documentation that is issued by a HMRC bonded warehouse or distillery to confirm that you are the legal owner of the cask.

Bonded warehouses and distilleries only issue Delivery Orders to account holders. In the main, they will only give accounts to companies or traders with significant whisky cask holdings who have a WOWGR licence.

Also remember, because Whisky 1901 holds the Delivery Order issued by the bonded warehouse or distillery, we are responsible for the storage fees and insurance costs attached to your cask.

Why should I choose to work with Whisky 1901?

Firstly, we have the expertise. Our brokers are all fully trained and qualified, with all the relevant industry accreditations. In fact, each Whisky 1901 broker is certified and trained by the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and the Edinburgh Whisky Academy, two of of the world’s leading authorities on wine and spirits education.

Secondly, we are established. Our expert team has many years of experience in the whisky trade. We deeply understand how valuable Scotch can be and we marry our financial knowledge with our deep passion for whisky, bringing our investors a measured, considered approach to investing. We also use our strong relationships with Scotland’s finest distilleries to identify opportunities and purchase casks for our stock portfolio.

Thirdly, we consider ourselves your partner, not your trader, and we live and breathe best practices. Alongside our WOWGR licence, we also provide you with the full range of paperwork required to establish your ownership of your cask, including the all-important Delivery Order.

Fourthly, we guarantee peace of mind. Whisky 1901 works alongside a London legal firm which specialises in commercial law to protect and facilitate the transfer of ownership of every cask purchase made by our clients and suppliers.

Lastly, and most importantly, we work hard to make your investment thrive – because your success is our success and helps us to continuously improve our services and offerings.

For more information about investing in whisky safely, download our investment guide below.

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