Thank's for your info, I guess there is nothing else I can do than just wait. Will the article handle the financial side of buying a cask or will it also deal with which distilleries sell casks to individuals?
I know that most casks that are not sold in the closed whisky market end up with so called whisky brokers, who on their turn can sell the cask to individuals. This is however not what I am interested in. I am looking for buying whisky "directly at the source".
You are not alone in your search for casks with new made spirit. I know of a club of enthousiast in your area in Holland who are always trying to buy casks direct from the distillery. This is absolutely non-commercial, and the purpose is to buy the casks with the other members and over the years monitor the development of the spirit to try and understand what influences the whisky. Their website is still under construction, but go to WWW.SWOD.ORG. Maybe they can help you.
I believe Ben Nevis also sells casks of new make direct from the distillery, but I don't know the costs. From my own experiences, it is a very expensive process, not only in up front costs, but over time there can be storage fees, in addition to of course excise, not to mention import/export costs. Good luck!
Has anyone tried what has this one year done to its taste? Or should I wait few years more?
What I would really recommend is one of the cask strength bottlings.I tried a sample last year at the distillery (that I believe was destined as a single cask bottling to an overseas market)of one of the original 1995 casks.It has apparently been stored high in the warehouse at Lochranza and was remarkably mature for its (6+ years of) age...well worth a try if you can find it!
This time it is not a dodgy investment company as featured in Whiskymag 21 but a well known whisky company:
Inverhouse now offers whole casks to individuals from Balblair, Balmenach, Pulteney, Knockdhu and Speyburn.
The good thing is: you do not buy new-make spirit, but matured whisky at the age of your choice, ready for bottling now.
cost: roughly £1 per year of maturation (£10 for a 10 year-old, £30 for a 30yr old) per bottle. Plus VAT, plus tax, plus bottling, plus shipping.
They offer a limited selection of casks, but you can ask if you want a different one (e.g. a certain year).
Has anyone bought a whole cask from Inverhouse?
What do you think of this offer?
This is the info I have....
Dave Broom takes you through the possible pitfalls, the complications and the cons of many a whisky lover’s dream – buying a cask
At one time, most distilleries offered private customers the chance to own a cask of whisky. It was a link with whisky’s origins as a spirit made by farmers for their local communities. These days the private casks may be few and far between, but there is still considerable demand. Let’s face it, owning your own cask of whisky gives you a lovely fuzzy warm feeling. No surprise then that Whisky Magazine regularly gets letters asking ‘how can I buy a cask?’ Well, the answer is, with a very few exceptions, you can’t. Distillers have either stopped the practise because of the huge amount of paperwork or been scared off by the activities of fraudsters in the late 1990s.
One of the few firms to continue with the practise is Bruichladdich, but even it is stopping the offer next year. (full details on www.bruichladdich.com) The La Résérve-Murray McDavid team have years of experience and impeccable credentials as brokers, at one stage selling casks of Macallan, Glenfarclas, Ardbeg and Springbank. “We were virtually the only ones selling to private individuals in the early 90s,” recalls Simon Coughlin. “We’ve done the same with Bruichladdich, allowing people to be part of this inaugural year. We won’t be doing it again this year (2002) because frankly we’ll need all the stock.”
Isle of Arran saw cask investment as a way of generating much-needed cash in its early days, though new MD Andrew Kettles has little time for the notion. “I’m not an advocate of firms selling to private individuals. The reasons for doing it would either be to get rid of stock or, as in Arran’s case, to raise cash to lay down stock with the long-term aim of bottling our brand at 10 years. What has happened is that the investors will have a 10-year-old Arran before we do. In this way you can easily lose control of your own brand. It’s easy with hindsight to say it was a mistake, but at the time there weren’t many other options. Selling your stock to any individual is a dangerous road to go down.”
Damaging a brand is bad enough, but much worse can happen. Any business which combines a premium product and private capital will attract con artists. Arran itself was swindled in the 90s along with many private investors who believed that buying a cask would guarantee them a hefty return when their whisky matured.
The activities of whisky scammers appears to have diminished in recent times, following a number of successful prosecutions by the Serious Fraud Office and the relentless investigations of journalist Jim Budd, but what happened is a sobering reminder of the potential perils of ‘investing’ in a cask of malt.
When you buy a cask of whisky you are making an investment in pleasure. It is not a way to make millions. The price of whisky fluctuates depending on whether the industry is in surplus or not. The best any investor can expect is to be able to bottle his whisky for roughly half the retail price, while the chances of selling a single cask on the open market is extremely unlikely. The distillery which made the whisky may wish to buy it back, but only if it has oversold and needs mature stocks. Even then the price will hardly buy you an island in the Caribbean. The notion that whisky appreciates in value by a set amount every year is fantasy.
That however was the line spun by Cavendish/Hamilton Spirit Management, the directors of which were jailed in 2000 after a swindle which netted them £6.2m. Most of the other firms operating similar scams were closed down by the SFO in the late 90s though some have moved abroad. The activities of Glen Stewart International is worthy of close scrutiny, while Australian-based firm Gleneagles Spirit Management is still active. It sells casks sourced from the Speyside Distillery and from the Tasmania Distillery Co Pty. Like Isle of Arran, Tasmania is a new venture which is trying to raise cash by selling casks of new make to investors – though potential investors should be aware this is not an opportunity to make a significant return.
Also technically active is Grandtully Distillery, part of a web of firms linked to Cavendish/Hamilton Spirit. Investors were offered new fillings of spirit from ‘Grandtully Distillery’, which had actually been sourced from the Speyside Distillery. This shows how distillers can easily become embroiled in these fraudulent activities. There is no suggestion that Speyside did anything illegal and it still sells a yearly tranche of whisky to private individuals. Burn Stewart was also conned into selling casks of new make for around £300 each to Cavendish, which would then sell the spirit on to its customers for up to £1,000, telling them it would increase in value by at least 18% every year.
There are other more basic considerations should you still wish to lay down a cask. Can you guarantee when it was distilled? Is your precious investment in first-fill, second-fill or a knackered third-fill barrel that should have been turned into garden furniture? “Investors don’t really understand the difficulties they could get into,” says Kettles. “They forget they have to pay duty and VAT, don’t consider how they get it bottled and the fact that at the end of the process they are likely to be left with 50 cases of malt. If you want to invest in whisky don’t buy a cask, invest in the company. And we welcome investors.”
*Special thanks to Jim Budd and his website, which you can visit at www.investdrinks.org Anyone contemplating investing in a cask should check here first or contact the Malt Whisky Buyers Helpline by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
‘A hypothecated, living investment’
by Jock Scott
In 1995 I left the country’s largest firm of accountants and management consultants, taking with me a sum of cash as a farewell gift from friends. I planned to travel so the cash could have supported me over this period, or allowed me to make merry in the months before flying to South Africa. Or been lodged in some safe and unrewarding investment for a number of years. But I wanted to do something memorable to mark seven years of bloody hard work and recognise my friends’ generosity. In the evocative language used to describe allocating tax revenues for a specific purpose, I wanted to hypothecate my gift.
I read about the new Isle of Arran distillery whisky bonds and the logic of it made perfect sense. I make a small investment in return for which the distillery receives much needed cash at an early stage of its development, my friends approve, I get more adventurous in my whisky drinking, and in five years I become the proud owner of 12 bottles of Isle of Arran malt whisky.
I occasionally thought about my money being converted in to malt whisky and lying in a barrel doing its stuff, waiting to be bottled and delivered. The reviews have been good and within the next few days I should take delivery of the little wonder.
A small investment, but a memorable and living one.
Jock Scott is now a keen malt whisky drinker and a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Last year he completed the 2160-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in the US and summited Mount Katahdin, the final mountain with supplies of Laphroaig and Rosebank.
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