Whisky investment - advice on one of the fastest growing markets

Can you tell me more about the whisky market? I'm just starting out and a lot of the advice I receive is very specialist and confusing - J Grierson

Well, the whisky market is one that always interests me as it is still a relatively small collecting area, yet is definitely increasing in size year after year.

According to Whisky Highland, the top 250 bottles of investment-grade whisky have grown in value by 183% since 2008, showing a 1.7% increase in the first quarter of 2012 alone. This remarkable growth is expected to continue, with insiders citing the market to be worth around £27m ($17m) in 2020 - a rise of 325%.

Whisky exports from Scotland were up 23% in 2011 according to the Scotch Whisky Association, demonstrating that there is growing interest from outside of Britain. Drinks giant Diageo PLC has already announced that it will be investing more than £1bn into Scotch, with a view to reaching international audiences.

When it comes to what to collect, single malt Scotch is definitely your best bet. As always, I recommend buying the best you can afford, particularly "the icons".

Writing for the W club, David Robertson of Whyte & Mackay defined these as: "Rare, limited edition releases from well known, well established, credible and well regarded 'premier cru' distillers - Macallan, Springbank, Bowmore, The Dalmore, Highland Park, Balvenie."

He goes on to explain that the key to investing in these bottles is to single out those you believe will be drunk. Rare bottles that start out at the lower end of the market are much more likely to be consumed by their purchaser, which removes them from the market and leaves you in a good position in years to come - providing you can resist drinking away your profit!

It should be noted that whisky is a long term investment, so don't expect to make any major profit from your prized bottles for the next five to ten years, possibly longer. As with many areas of collectible investment, this is one that requires dedication and passion in a particular field.

However, if you learn the market well and can identify a good bottle from a bad one, whisky promises great things in the coming years. Visit our Wine, Whisky and Spirits section for more of the latest news.   

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