Scotch Whisky - everything you need to know..

Scotch whisky, always spelt without the e its Irish counterpart is, derives originally from the Gaelic term ‘uisge beatha’; meaning ‘water of life’. Spoken across the Highlands, Gaelic remains spoken today but has been largely replaced with English. The spirit, however, has felt no such replacement and is enjoyed by millions worldwide every year.

Evidence of whisky distilling in Scotland dates back hundreds of years, although its exact inception is debated. There is some speculation that Christian missionary monks brought the art of distilling with them up to the country but many insist that Highland farmers themselves discovered to distil spirits from surplus barley stocks.

Indeed the first written document of distilling dates back to 1494 in the Exchequer Rolls; that is, the tax records of the day. Back in the 15th century an entry lists “eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae” – again, a reference to the ‘water of life’. This much barley was enough to produce well over a thousand bottles and so it is clear that distilled spirits were in demand.

Scotch is even documented as having been enjoyed by royalty, with the Treasurer of Accounts for King James IV making entries for “aqua vita” during his trips to Inverness in September 1506.

One of Scotland’s most known and best loved figures, Robert Burns, even wrote about whisky in the 1700s. His ode to the nature of happiness, community and cooperation was named ‘Scotch Drink’ and was hugely popular in 1785. What many don’t realise is that Burns was a tax collector before he was a poet – so he knew a thing or two about its potent potential!

When World War II ended, the Scots were able to export their whisky worldwide and ever since, it has remained one of the most popular alcoholic spirits globally. It now accounts for the majority of the country’s food and drink exports revenue.

Investing in Scotch Whisky

Single malt Scotch whisky has become synonymous with luxury drinking and here at London Cask Co, we embrace it as not just a beautiful spirit but also as a fantastic investment.

The value of bottles of rare Scotch single malt sold at auction has increased faster than any other luxury collectible over the last decade. What’s more, increasing demand, constant scarcity and a lack of tangible relationship with other markets has seen the price of Scotch fluctuate considerably less than listed shares; making an investment in it less volatile and therefore more stable returns in comparison to traditional commodities.

Scotch whisky investments made headlines in 2019 when a rare bottle of Macallan Scotch sold for £1.5m – a world record and well above the expected £350,000 – £450,000. Sold by world famous auction house Sotheby’s, the Macallan 1926 60-year-old single malt from cask number 263 was distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986 with only 40 bottles ever available. Forming part of what the auctioneers described as “the ultimate whisky collection”, this success shot Scotch investments to worldwide attention.

Macallan prides itself on its six pillars of craftsmanship and presents several different options for investment. A premium quality whisky that can be rivalled by few distilleries, its character and reputation are unprecedented and provide incomparable value. Macallan sell its whisky at 12 years of maturity – and demand for older, rarer bottles has grown five-fold within the last decade.

Despite skyrocketing demand and ever-increasing returns, Macallan and other distilleries have seen their prices dip since 2020; partially in line with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of repeated lockdown periods. This does make whisky a long-term investment rather than a short one but if stored properly and held onto for a decent period, the ROI can be vast.

This is all just one aspect of whisky investment too; with Irish whiskey also gaining popularity as an investment opportunity and a 55-year-old Japanese Yamazaki reaching an impressive $800,000 at auction recently.

Craftmanship, cohesion and constancy solidify Scotch’s potential – what are you waiting for?