Investing in whisky

Whisky is made for drinking. That’s the statement that should be here in regard to investing in whisky, or any other kind of booze for that matter. That is, according to a lot of whisky geeks out there.

On the other hand, I also know of a lot of guys who claim this, but don’t really shy away if someone offers them € 400 for their Ardbeg Supernova Committee release. Of course, there are some who are adamant in their beliefs, and make a point of opening the bottle just so it loses its value. I even planned to do that with my bottle of Bowmore Devil’s Casks batch 1.

Of course, I have not. Not yet at least. I still mean to drink it but since I have way too many bottles open as is, I am postponing most bottle openings until a later date.

Back to investing in whisky. A minor disclaimer is necessary: I don’t invest in whisky. I buy only bottles that I intend to drink. However, I buy more bottles than I want to drink, or open. This means that a sizable and growing chunk of my collection is still closed and stored, and whisky being whisky, it’s also increasing in value in a lot of cases.

The drawback of buying bottles that you’re not opening is that some of them were purchases in the heat of the moment. At a tasting, or after hearing a lot of raving reviews, or as a pre-order. Sometimes a bottle that seemed interesting loses its edge for you. If you don’t taste before buying but you do get the chance to try it before you’ve opened it, it might not be all that.

I’ve noticed that in the period I bought quite a few more bottles than I’m doing currently, but had already stopped opening them right away, some of them lost interest for me. In other cases, where a bottle was quite limited, like the aforementioned Ardbeg Supernova for the Committee, I didn’t like it all that much but had bought two. Also from Ardbeg, I bought two Alligators and didn’t like it when I tasted it at a tasting a couple of months later.

It just so happens that in those cases the bottles became worth much more in the following months and years and I don’t feel any shame in selling them on at significantly inflated prices. 

Does this make me invest in whisky? I don’t think so, but these experiences have made me change the way I regard my planned purchases. For example, when Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix came out, I had the idea I would enjoy it, but with it’s proposed limit in availability, I bought two. Just in case. Two options of course: it’s bloody good and I want two for myself, or it’s not that good and I can sell one on.

Maybe that makes me an investor in whisky. Maybe that makes me just a clever buyer. I should be clever in buying whisky, mostly because I messed up in some other cases where my hobby never held any value (buying the wrong Magic cards, Dungeons and Dragons books, comics, cds, and so on).

The guys at Just Whisky Auction wrote some articles on how to go about whisky auctions and buy clever, but I didn’t really like where the articles went. I learned how auctions work, but you can just as easily check eBay or watch a couple episodes of Auction Hunters on TV.

For the Dutch audience: On the website of Whisky Etc. an article was just published by Bert Rutkowski of Eetcafe Pretzels fame which does hit the spot regarding investing in whisky with a limited budget. It can easily be read as a guide to buying cleverly with what you have not losing value.

Just keep in mind: Whatever you buy, you can always drink it. So buy you would like to drink if the market slumps!

Oh, and on a side note. I decidedly do NOT sell bottles that other people have done me a favour with. As in, keeping one back before it went on sale, setting me up with a contact, getting me a good price and such.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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