New ways to profit from a love of whisky

Chris Carter looks at the latest online developments for whisky lovers.

Investing in whisky has never been easier from the comfort of your home, even when it’s still in the cask. Whisky Invest Direct (whiskyinvestdirect.com) is a platform that was launched five years ago by the people behind popular gold and precious-metals dealing service BullionVault. Users simply log on and buy whisky that is still in the barrel and kept in the original distiller’s bonded warehouse. The idea is that, as it slowly ages, and other whiskies get consumed, your whisky appreciates in value. Then, you sell it via the platform. Just like on BullionVault, there is a live order board that allows you to set your own asking price.

Another option is to buy and sell whisky by the cask via an online auction. In February, Cask Trade’s (casktrade.com) newly launched auction service, called auctionyourcask.com, held the world’s first live, online whisky auction dedicated to casks. Around 300 whisky lovers registered to take part, withroughly 100 samples sent out to prospective buyers in North America, Asia, Europe and Australia. 

“People loved the option of receiving samples,” founder Simon Aron said. “Try before you buy is incredibly powerful.” A 1995 Springbank sherry hogshead was among the casks sold, going for £45,000. Rather than you buying from the distiller, London-based Cask Trade owns the casks outright in bonded warehouses, and it only sells whole casks. The next auction is scheduled for 14 August.

Against the backdrop of the worsening crisis, Cask Trade has seen a steep rise in demand for its services, particularly in Asia. “Our new Asian customers are very enterprising”, says Aron. “They have a love of whisky, so they keep some, bottle some of the casks they are buying and trade others on as they are buying from us at a better price than some of their local competitors.” It’s perhaps a little too soon to say how the crisis has affected whisky prices, but it bodes well that demand has held up. It is also yet another reminder that alternative investments, such as whisky, wine and art, can form part of a properly diversified portfolio.

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