CAREFUL with that dram – it might be better off left in the bottle, as Scotch whisky is now outperforming traditional investments, including the stock market and gold.
Figures from investment firm Whisky Highland show that some portfolios’ value has risen by almost 300 per cent in the last year.
Three-year figures reveal that an investment in the 100 best-performing whiskies in 2008 would have risen by 163 per cent in 2011, while gold – which has soared due to the recession – rose 146 per cent. Diamonds rose by just 10 per cent, while shares and crude oil stock values fell.
Arthur Motley, buyer at Royal Mile Whiskies, said: “Collectors used to be interested in whisky as a drink and wanted a good bottle as part of their collection. Increasingly, people are buying as they see prices rising on eBay or at auctions. It is simply seen as an investment.”
Former banker Andy Simpson, who founded Whisky Highland after leaving Bank of Scotland, said investors are only just starting to become aware of the value of whisky.
“It is expanding quite rapidly,” he said. “A few years ago, you might have seen the odd bottle tagged on the end of a wine auction. Now there are a lot of specific whisky auctions held all over the country.”
A total of 8,500 bottles of single malt – the most valuable form – were last year sold at auction, compared to 1,500 four years ago. The value of the auction market is estimated at £3.6 million and expected to rise to £17m by 2020.
Worldwide, investor and collector bottle retail sales are thought to total 85,000 – worth £44 million a year. The most expensive bottle of whisky so far is a bottle of limited-edition Dalmore, bought last year for £135,000 by a Chinese businessman in Singapore.
Another high-performing investment bottle, the Glenfiddich Foundation Reserve, went on sale in a limited-edition 500 bottle run last May for £50 and is now worth about £250.
David Robertson, Dalmore’s rare whiskies director, said: “People see whisky as an asset and with stocks and shares being so tough and interest from bank accounts so low, investors have been starting to look for other opportunities.”
Robertson said Dalmore regularly received calls – including from investors and whisky retailers in Asia and Africa – enquiring about specific bottles.
Mahesh Patel, 45, a British civil engineer who lives and works in the US, began collecting in his early 20s.
“My first serious bottles were bought 20 years ago on the Royal Mile – a Black Bowmore and an Ardbeg Provenance – which cost about £200 and are probably worth about £4,000 to £5,000 now. I have about 2,500 to 3,000 bottles, but I like to see it as quality, not quantity. My family used to think it was a mad obsession. Now they can see the benefit.”