'Very exciting' future for Scotch whisky auction site after major Asian investment deal

A whisky auction site set up by two brothers from the Speyside area is eyeing global expansion after selling a major stake to an investment group managed out of Hong Kong.

Whisky Hammer was founded in 2016 by brothers Daniel and Craig Milne who are originally from Macduff, Aberdeenshire, close to Speyside, an area renowned for the production of Scotch whisky.

The auction site, and its sister retail business Still Spirit, is poised for expansion after selling a 49 per cent stake of the Scottish family business to Rare Whisky Holdings, a whisky investment group run out of Hong Kong.

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The multi-million-pound deal will deliver a 2.6-times return to retail investors on their original investment, who participated in a crowdfunding campaign just two years ago.

Craig Milne and Daniel Milne of online whisky auction site Whisky Hammer and its sister retail business Still Spirit. Picture: Richard Frew Photography & Film

The success of Whisky Hammer has been recognised by Rare Whisky Holdings, which is the same management team behind the Platinum Whisky Investment Fund, the first private equity fund in the world to focus on rare single-malt whiskies.

Platinum Whisky Investment Fund launched in 2014, raised $12 million (£8.7m) and is in the final stage of its wind down, exiting at more than $24m in seven years.

Rare Whisky Holdings also owns the Glenor Cask Company, which holds 1,000 casks of maturing single malt, blended, and grain whiskies.

The new investment and partnership ensures registered members of Whisky Hammer and Still Spirit will receive exclusive access to a range of cask opportunities for the long-term.

Daniel Milne, managing director of Whisky Hammer and Still Spirit, said: “This is a very exciting time for our business. The transaction signifies an important bond with our new Asian partner that will rapidly bring the group to the next phase of growth, and we are incredibly excited about what lies ahead.

“In addition, we are delighted to have generated a substantial return for our crowdfunding investors that helped us build the business to where it is today.”

Rickesh Kishnani, co-founder of Rare Whisky Holdings, added: “Our investment group is proud to join the Milne family business and help with their expansion to Asia, where the demand for whisky continues to grow at a rapid pace.

“We are also excited to use this new partnership to provide Whisky Hammer and Still Spirit members with exclusive access to our collection of aged casks.”

Whisky Hammer hosts monthly auctions, dedicated to whisky and other spirits, allowing buyers and sellers from around the world to participate. It has auctioned a wide range of whiskies, both bottles and casks, with auctions selling in excess of £1m under the hammer each month.

A recent feature included the 31-year-old Black Bowmore “DB5” collaboration with Aston Martin, distilled in 1964 and sold for a hammer price of £81,000 in March 2021.

Whisky Hammer re-located in 2019 to a new, purpose-built facility in Aberdeenshire, which is also home to Still Spirit – a whisky shop, e-commerce site and dram bar offering more than 100 rare whiskies to taste while overlooking the Scottish countryside.

Legal support for the latest deal was provided by Goodwin Proctor LLP, acting on behalf of the buyer, and Brodies LLP, acting on behalf of the sellers.

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