Our 4th title in the "Whiskey Investing" series by Güneş Aydoğan “Which Whiskeys to Follow?”. In this article, we will talk about which countries, brands and types of whiskey should be focused on in the whiskey investing world.

Before starting the article, if you haven't read it yet, be sure to check out the previous articles. To all posts from this link you can reach

Which Whiskeys to Follow?

I think whiskey investing is an interesting topic for all whiskey lovers, whether they want to make money or not. However, if you have come to this article with an increased appetite, you probably have some questions about how you can make money from this business.

In order to satisfy your curiosity, in this article, we will try to make a "fundamental analysis" of whiskey investing with 3 questions. Our aim is to give you an idea of what kind of whiskey you can focus your attention on, before we move on to specific expressions.

A little caveat: The whiskeys mentioned here have been evaluated based on the price and volume changes seen in the UK auction market in recent years. Therefore, this article should not mean that 'some whiskeys are of better quality than others'.

If you're ready, let's start…

1 – What types of whiskeys?

I think this is the one that will create the least controversy among our 3 questions. It seems possible to give a clear answer to this question, even without going into deep analysis: Single MaltDon't be surprised!

We emphasize the Single Malt category, but this does not mean that other whiskeys (for example, Blended whiskeys) do not gain value at all. Very special bottles can of course be found in every whiskey type. However, when we look at auction trades and brands followed by consulting companies, almost all of the whiskeys we come across are Single Malt whiskeys.

Scottish consulting firm RareWhiskey 101We can say that brands producing Blended Malt are almost never mentioned in the 2019 report. Only Single Grain whiskeys were noted in the report; however, the number of Single Malt sold at auctions in 2019 is 80 times that of Single Grain whiskeys! Just looking at this figure, we can say that single malt is the main type of whiskey investment.

2 – Which country whiskeys?

For many years, there were 2 countries that come to mind when it comes to whiskey: Scotland and America. It would not be wrong to say that Scottish whiskeys are the sole dominion of the long-term market, especially in whiskey investment. However, with the increasing interest in recent years, we see that these whiskeys have started to shift to whiskeys from different countries such as India, Japan and Taiwan. Among these, especially Japanese whiskeys have attracted attention with increasing prices and bottles that cannot be found. So, do you think Japanese whiskeys could catch up with Scottish whiskeys from an investor's point of view?

There is more than one way to answer this question. The first metric we can look at is which nation's whiskey has gained more value in recent years. Rare Whiskey 101 bases its work on Japanese whiskeys in early 2015. For Scotch whiskeys, this period goes back much further. If we start the comparison from 2015, when Japanese whiskeys hit the radar; Japanese whiskey index %300 Compared to the valuation of the iconic Scottish whiskeys, %120, in rare Scotch whiskeys %180 appears as. Only from this point of view can it be concluded that Japanese whiskey has been a better investment tool in recent times.

However, it would not be right to focus all the focus on valuation while evaluating. Market depth is also an important metric, especially for small investors with limited access to very special whiskeys. The overvaluation of 4-5 very special bottles is not always a situation that concerns the entire market.

Japanese whiskeys currently lag far behind Scotch whiskeys in volume traded at auctions. Of course, issues such as how old Japanese whiskey is and production volume are also effective in this; but that doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day, Scotch whiskeys are more accessible and diverse. In addition, when we look at the highest prices reached, it is possible to say that Japanese whiskeys have not yet reached the level of Scotches.

The most expensive Japanese whiskey ever sold is a 52-year-old Karuizawa, which sold for $435,000 at London's Sotheby's in March this year. (There will be those who remember this bottle from our first article, those who haven't read it yet. here we can get). We mentioned in our second article that the most expensive Scottish whiskey was sold for 1.9 million dollars. (from here too) Considering that Macallan has reached the level of 400,000 dollars with different expressions, and that there are other Scotches such as Dalmore and SpringBank, which are sold at levels close to these prices, we can say that Scottish whiskeys are ahead of record prices.

Based on these points, my personal recommendation is to follow the Scottish whiskey market first and then the Japanese whiskey market.

3 – Which distilleries?

In the simplest way, we can give a straight answer to this question like "Which distillery's whiskeys are valued more, it is the best". However, when you look at the list for 2019, the result may be surprising for you.

I'm sure many people have never heard of at least 1-2 of the top 5 paying distilleries of the past year: Springbank, Rosebank, Brora, Ben Wyvis and Jillyloch. The distilleries on this list are relatively little known and highly valued, for the same reason.

Following 4 brands excluding Springbank “Silent distillery” it belongs to distilleries that are not producing at the moment. The fact that these distilleries are no longer producing, and therefore the supply is exhausted, naturally increases the prices. However, this does not mean that a new expression will no longer be introduced to the market.

For example; One of Islay's famous distilleries Port Ellen even though it closed its doors in the 1980s, whiskey stocks are today the liquor giant diageo and new expressions are released from time to time (a 39-year-old Port Ellen went on sale in April 2019 for about $6,000).

But even for closed-stock distilleries, each new express means getting closer to the end of that stock, pushing prices up, especially for well-known distilleries. Let's open a little parenthesis here, Diageo from closed distilleries brora and Port EllenIt has submitted an application to reopen in 2021. How this situation will affect prices is a question mark…

The market may rise even more as the expressions search for old Port Ellens in character, or seeing Port Ellen frequently in the markets may lead to a deterioration in the perception of the brand, we will wait and see. Of course, one should not rush to see Port Ellen in the markets.

Diageo plans the first expression to be 12 years old. This means that we will only be able to get the bottles in 2033.I'm waiting for a special non-age series to be released following the opening (or they may release a special series from old stocks exclusive to the opening), in such a case it will be a very good investment for those who can buy it.

Well, what happened to the brands we know? Macallan yatırım piyasası için o kadar da önemli değil miymiş? İşte burada yalnızca fiyat değişikliklerine bakmak bizi bu yanılgıya sürüklüyor. Macallan, geçen senenin listesinde ilk 10’da yok. Ancak geçen sene müzayedelerde oluşturulan satış hacminin neredeyse %40’ı Macallan viskilere ait!

It means that we should not only look at the valuation. Metrics such as how much expression a brand can attract the attention of investors and average bottle prices are also very important here.

If we update our list as the most bought and sold brands last year and create the most value in total, we come across a more familiar list; Macallan, Ardbeg, Bowmore, Highland Park & Laphroaig.

These distilleries also jumped 4 steps compared to the previous year and rose to the 6th place. DalmoreWe can add . When we look at it in this way, we see that the iconic distilleries of the regions stand at an important point in whiskey investment. In addition, these distilleries are more suitable for small investors due to the fact that it is easier to access information about them and they release special series more often.

Photo Credit: David Parry

As a result;

Based on all these analyzes, we can make two basic judgments about distillates;

  • Iconic distilleries like Macallan, Dalmore are always important and safe harbors
  • When you come across a closed distillery whiskey, it's a good idea to keep your eyes open.

I hope you have a general idea of where to start after this article. In our next article, we will go deeper and examine the special series of iconic brands. Let's see which bottles are special and which ones are actually not that special.

Gunes Aydogan (@laggard_istanbul)

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You can check out the other titles of the “Whiskey Investing” series here!

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