Fife-based whisky hunters launch quest for rare wooden casks

Cask brokerage launched to flush out ‘dormant’ rare whisky casks

Dunfermline-headquartered whisky analyst, broker and investment expert Rare Whisky 101 (RW101) as launched a new bespoke cask brokerage service to meet increased demand from global whisky enthusiasts seeking rare whisky still held in wood.
Over the past 12 months, RW101 says it has brokered more than 20,000 rare whisky bottles around the globe. Now, with demand for Scotland’s rare liquid gold showing no signs of abating, the world’s leading whisky hunters are casting the net wider to include dormant casks, which could be worth, more than £100,000 each based on average values brokered by RW101.
RW101 claims it has already brokered casks (barrels, hogsheads and butts) from a range of iconic brands including Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Macallan, Highland Park, Rosebank and Springbank. These rare wooden treasures, if bottled at cask strength, would fill 13,576 bottles worth a total of £3.574m.
Prices have ranged from £2,500 per cask to over £500,000, with an average cask price of £132,000. RW101 believes there may be some casks in existence which, if they came up for sale, could fetch well over £1m each.
By launching this new service, RW101 aims to attract owners of casks of rare whisky, which are most likely lying dormant in Scotland’s bonded warehouses, who may be looking to liquidate their stocks.
Whisky investment expert and co-founder of Rare Whisky 101 David Robertson said: “While we have always advised our customers against buying casks filled with ‘new-make spirit’, we believe that the market for older casks of high quality liquid from top tier distilleries will continue to go from strength to strength.
“RW101 has already seen an increased demand for quality casks from our more sophisticated clients be they connoisseurs, collectors or investors so it made sense to introduce a more formal cask brokerage service.
“We’re particularly keen to hear from any cask owners who may have either inherited old casks or acquired and then left them in storage. Given the booming global demand for rare whisky, these owners could be sitting on a very tidy profit.”
While the market for casks is gathering pace, RW101 is warning owners of the dangers of holding on to casks for too long.
Robertson added: “Many people would assume that as long as their whisky is stored in cask in a bonded warehouse, no harm can come to it. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is most definitely a finite time in which to sell a cask.
“We recently saw a 50 year old cask that had dropped below the legal minimum of 40% alcohol to 28% and was subsequently deemed worthless.
“I’d encourage any owners, even if they don’t want to sell, to get their casks re-gauged and sampled. Casks can also leak and become overly-woody so cask owners should ensure that their casks are checked annually.”
The secondary market for rare whisky witnessed another year of significant growth in 2016 outperforming many other well established asset classes, including wine and gold.
The total value of rare whisky bottles sold at auction in the UK in 2016 hit record levels of £14.21m exceeding 2015 (£9.56m) by almost 50%.
Over 12 months, 58,758 bottles of single malt Scotch whisky were sold in the UK on the open market, representing an increase of 15,300 bottles and a 35% increase on 2015.