Best Whiskies to invest in and what Collectors look for

Best Whiskies to invest in and what Collectors look for
Karuizawa Geisha, Source - Christie's

This article analyses the finest whiskies with both taste and financial potential. Discover the best whiskies to add to your investment portfolio.

Looking at reports, articles and data we have highlighted the whiskey brands with investment potential are ‘The Macallan’ and ‘Yamakazi’. Bear in mind that this has to also tie in with the key points we mentioned below that collectors look for. It is not to say other brands don't have potential as well, as we see in Sotheby's report other whiskies in the top lots included Kweichow Moutai “Sun Flower”, Port Ellen Cask Of Distinction, Brora Cask Of Distinction, and The Dalmore 32 Year Old Constellation Collection.

From the information and data we gathered, Macallan and Yamakazi hold distinction when it comes to collecting whisky.

Key points to consider based on what collectors look at

Distillery Preference: Collectors often have favorite distilleries. For example, if a collector has a specific interest in Ardbeg, then Ardbeg in all its many forms may appeal.

Evolution of Style: Collectors like to compare styles of whisky that were produced in different decades to see how distillation and ageing techniques evolve.

Atypical Releases: Many distilleries experiment with ageing their whiskies in different casks to influence the flavor profile. If a distillery releases an atypical whisky that's clearly distinct from their house style, these releases often become sought after.

Silent Stills: Whisky from 'silent stills', or distilleries that are no longer in operation, can also be attractive to collectors. Some of these silent stills, such as Burnside or Dalaruan, closed long ago and it is extremely difficult to find examples of the whisky today. Others like Port Ellen, which closed in the 1980s, can be regularly found at auction.

Market Leaders

The Macallan, Yamazaki, and Karuizawa stand out as the undisputed leaders among the most collectable whiskies at auction. The Macallan is known for its rich, sherry-accented character, round mouthfeel, and longevity. Yamazaki has the longest tradition and track record in Japan, with some of the oldest mature stocks of single malt. Karuizawa is among the rarest malt whiskies Japan has ever produced and is a 'silent still' that's collectible but no longer in production.

The Macallan is known for its rich, sherry-accented character, round mouthfeel, and longevity. The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, for example, sold for $696,949 for six bottles at a Sotheby's auction.

The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, Source - Sotheby's

Yamazaki has the longest tradition and track record in Japan, with some of the oldest mature stocks of single malt. A bottle of Yamazaki 55 Year Old sold for $595,200 at a Sotheby's auction in New York.

The Yamazaki 55 Year Old 46.0 abv (1 BT75), Source - Sotheby's

Karuizawa is among the rarest malt whiskies Japan has ever produced and is a 'silent still' that's collectible but no longer in production. The rarity and quality of Karuizawa whiskies make them highly sought after by collectors.

輕井澤 Karuizawa 50 Year Old Cask #5132 59.4 abv 1963 (1 BT70), Source - Sotheby's

Top Lots

The top lots in the spirits section of Sotheby's report include whiskies from The Macallan and Yamazaki, which aligns with their status as market leaders. Other whiskies in the top lots include Kweichow Moutai “Sun Flower”, Port Ellen Cask Of Distinction, Brora Cask Of Distinction, and The Dalmore 32 Year Old Constellation Collection.

Here are the top lots by category in the spirits section of Sotheby’s Wine & Spirit Report 2022

Kweichow Moutai “Sun Flower” 1974 in Original Wooden Case: 24 bottles sold in London for $1,161,849 ($48,410 per bottle).

Port Ellen Cask Of Distinction 52.9 abv 1979: 1 cask sold in London for $1,053,405 ($1,053,405 per barrel).

Brora Cask Of Distinction 52.8 abv 1982: 1 cask sold in London for $1,053,405 ($1,053,405 per barrel).

Macallan Sherry Butt #16500 1991: 1 sherry butt sold in London for $1,030,998 ($1,030,998 per barrel).

The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection: 6 bottles sold in London for $696,949 ($116,158 per bottle).

Yamazaki 55 Year Old 46.0 abv: 1 bottle sold in New York for $595,200 ($595,200 per bottle).

The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection: 6 bottles sold in London for $571,848 ($95,308 per bottle).

The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection with Burr Elm Podium: 6 bottles sold in London for $558,000 ($93,000 per bottle).

The Dalmore 32 Year Old Constellation Collection: 21 bottles sold in Hong Kong for $552,873 ($26,327 per neck).

The Yamazaki 50 Year Old 3rd Release 2011 57.0 abv: 1 bottle sold in Paris for $422,815 ($422,815 per neck) (Page 10).

Sources:

Collecting guide: Single malt Scotch and Japanese whiskies | Christie’s
Noah May, Head of Wine & Spirits in London, introduces the most collectable whiskies in the world. Illustrated with examples offered on 9 September
Collecting guide: 7 key things to know about Scottish and American whiskies | Christie’s
Specialist Noah May looks at the upswing in the market, key distinctions in style and taste, and what collectors look for

https://www.sothebys.com/en/docs/pdf/wine-spirits-market-report-2022.pdf

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