Scotch whisky has been popular for centuries and is nowadays attracting more and more enthusiasts and collectors. That is not surprising, there are many large and small distilleries of Scotch whisky, each with their own character and taste and in addition, each distillery has a choice of several types of whisky in terms of years of maturation and limited editions and sometimes very rare and thus collectable whiskies are made. Depending on the process of making the whisky and the maturation in different barrels, you can have either very smoky Scotch whisky, very light sweet whisky or anything in between. An ordinary bottle, especially with a blend (several single malt whiskies mixed together) is comparable to the price of a normal bottle of other spirits and rare bottles of especially aged Scotch whiskies can cost thousands of dollars and more.
Collectors are mainly looking for the single malt Scotch whiskies and you will find them often at whisky auctions. While some collectors buy the bottles to eventually open them at a good time, there are also collectors who mainly buy special bottles of whisky as an investment.
Scotch whisky made by small distilleries can sometimes increase spectacular in value when more enthusiasts discover the whisky, but a saver investment are special editions of very long matured whisky from larger brands or editions that have been released in small numbers. For example, some recent limited editions of The Macallan were sold out fast and increased in price very soon after.
Whisky enthusiasts also often look at the region where the whisky comes from. There are five different whisky regions in Scotland, namely:
The Speyside whisky region is located in North East Scotland, around the Spey area. About half of the Scotch whisky is made in this area, there are about 50 distilleries including some well-known such as Glenlivet
and a lot of other whisky distilleries such as Aberlour
, The Balvenie
, Glen Moray
and The Macallan
. A number of these distilleries have visitor centers and welcome audiences. Whisky enthusiasts regularly plan a holiday in this area.
The Lowland Scotch whiskies come from the lowlands in South Scotland and are known to be the lighter whiskys. There are not many distilleries in the Lowland region, a more famous one is the Auchentoshan distillery
. Much of the whisky produced in the Lowland region is used in blends.
The Highlang whisky region is very extensive, most of Scotland is covered. It is therefore not surprising that there is a wide variety of whiskies to be found, from the more fresh and light whiskies to heavier smoky whiskies. Well-known whisky distilleries that fall under the Highland region include Ardmore
. Highland whisky also includes Island single malts made on a number of islands such as Orkney. This includes brands such as Highland Park
Campbeltown whisky is made in Campbeltown on the Scottish Kintyre peninsula. There used to be over 30 whisky distilleries in Campbeltown but most have disappeared. Springbank
is one of the few remaining distilleries.
Islay is an island in West Scotland and has long been known as an important whisky producer. Irish monks are said to have been making whisky on Islay around 1300, and a lot of whisky has been brewed in the centuries since, first illegally and later with a license. Islay whiskies are praised for their smoky taste thanks to peat firing. This attracts many enthusiasts and collectors, which means that you regularly see the Islay whisky brands at whisky auctions. Distilleries on Islay are for example Ardbeg
, Caol Ila
Blended Schotse whiskyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s
Blended Scotch whiskies are composed of a number of single malt whiskies and are relatively much more sold and drunk than the single malt whiskys. An important reason for this is that thanks to the blending it is a 'safe' whisky, the taste has been composed with care and when you buy a bottle of blended Scotch whisky you run less risk that the content does not meet your expectations. As an investment - apart from perhaps a number of premium blends - the blended whiskies are considered less interesting, precisely because of the composition and also because of the large numbers of bottles that are sold. In comparison with the single malt Scotch whiskys, you will encounter fewer blends at whisky auctions. Firms that make blended Scotch whisky include Johnnie Walker
, Famous Grouse
, Chivas Regal
Whisky at auction
There are several whisky auctions worldwide, both online and live auctions. Very rare Scotch whiskies can bring in a lot of money, for example, in 2019 a bottle of Macallan 60-year-aged whisky was auctioned for almost 1.6 million euros! Since 1986, six bottles from this batch have set auction records, when the first bottle was auctioned for over $ 6,000. In 2020 a bottle of Springbank 50 years old was auctioned for almost $ 200,000, this whisky was distilled in 1919 and bottled in 1970. In the same auction, a bottle of Macallan from the same barrel of the above record was also auctioned, this time for over 900,000 euros. Macallan was well represented at this auction and several whiskies from Ardberg, Bowmore, Linkwood, Talisker, Balvenie and Highland Park also raised more than 5000 euros per bottle.
Whisky as an investment
Because some enthusiasts also drink the most expensive Scotch whiskies (and occasionally a bottle is broken), rare and old whiskies will probably become rarer and more expensive over a longer period of time, especially when more and more speculators see whisky as an investment. Could you buy a whisky as an investment or is there too much risk that it will be used at a special occasion?