With all the noise and news around whisky collecting and investing there is a lot of conflicting advice about how and what to collect. One reason for this is that the loudest advice tends to come from the very people that are selling their products to you.
At Whisky.Auction we believe that whisky is first and foremost for drinking, and the second best thing to do with your whisky is selling at auction, so we’ve put together some tips for collecting and what to consider when starting out:
Why collect whisky in the first place?
There could be any number of reasons why you want to start collecting whisky. Most collectors start from a love of whisky others are driven by financial motives, tracking the performance of their investments, but dig deeper and you’ll find there are other factors involved too.
It may be that you want bottles for your children on their significant birthdays, or to hand down to future generations. Do you want to collect bottles that will gain in value with a view to selling or passing down in the future? Do you want to collect bottles so you have a stash of whisky to open later in life? If the market goes up you can sell and if not, you have some amazing whisky to drink!
Having an idea of why you want to collect will help you build a better and more rounded collection.
Do your research
When it comes to buying whisky and rare spirits, research is key. With whisky collecting on the rise and prices with it, it’s more important than ever to know exactly what you’re buying.
Read books! These are a great way of expanding your knowledge and can reveal more about the particular whiskies or distilleries you want to collect.
The internet is a great source of knowledge and opinion, but be careful where you get your information from as not everything can be trusted. Try user generated online whisky databases such as Whiskybase then cross-check with other sources to build a rounded picture.
Get to know your local retailers. Not only can they make suggestions based on what you like to drink, but if you tick the box to receive marketing and newsletters from their website you’ll also get a chance of receiving allocated limited releases.
If you’re looking to buy at auction read our handy guide first and you’ll be ready to go.
The real research begins only when you taste a whisky, so research as much as possible! Head to whisky bars (if you can), join whisky clubs, attend whisky shows and order tasting packs online for a wide variety of whisky experiences.
Don’t assume you’ll enjoy a whisky just because it’s popular or because reviewers like it. We all have our own tastes and its important to keep that in mind when thinking about starting a whisky collection.
Drinking whisky is not crucial to enjoying collecting, you might be surprised by how many whisky collectors don’t drink at all, but it is important in understanding the liquid. Regular whisky tasting will help you build that knowledge.
Stick to a theme
We’ve seen many great whisky collections at Whisky.Auction and there is one thing they all have in common… they each have a theme.
Will you only buy Macallan or never buy Macallan? Will you buy whiskies to drink or collect for collecting’s sake? Will you stick to classics from closed distilleries or invest in early releases from new distilleries?
It’s good advice to start with whisky that you like to drink. Generally, collectors look for limited editions or numbered bottlings, collect vintage and single cask bottlings and collect whisky from closed distilleries.
You can make your whisky collection as narrow or as broad as you like: a particular distillery, a significant vintage or your favourite style. Sticking to a theme, particularly when starting out, can help keep your collection focused and allow you to wade through the many thousands of bottles that are available to you much more readily.
It can be helpful to set a budget to help focus the direction of your collection and ensure that you aren’t overspending.
It’s all about the liquid
New shiny limited releases in their stunning presentation boxes may look like a good bet but will they stand the test of time?
Whether its old rarities or future classics you decide to go for, the liquid is always the most important element. If the liquid is good, then you can safely assume there will still be demand for it in the future.
Look beyond the mainstream
It can be easy to be swayed toward collecting whiskies that are fashionable now, but the best collections are carefully curated, so stick to your own plan.
If we all collected the same thing it would be pretty boring and frankly bad news for prices, so think outside the whisky box.
Long established distilleries like Glen Grant, Tamdhu or Glenrothes to name just three, produce excellent whiskies and have so far evaded the carpetbaggers. With just a little research you can find superb bottles.
If you don’t enjoy collecting whisky, then collect something else instead. What about rum, Cognac, gin, liqueurs…?
Whisky is all about enjoyment, be it tasting or collecting.