If you’ve ever considered buying a cask of Scotch whisky, we’re perfectly placed to help you navigate this complex process. Our expertise and extensive contacts in the industry give us excellent access to some of the finest casks, from entry-level up to older stocks from some of the most famous distilleries in Scotland. We’ll guide you through the process, from an initial no-commitment discussion to choosing the right cask, then to either selling it on or bottling the bottles in the years ahead.

There are few opportunities which offer such rich potential for an investor to indulge their private passion while providing the prospect of a return at the same time.

Why Invest In Whisky Casks?

The cask market (and whisky in general) is going through a Golden Age: bottles and casks of top distilleries have been consistently breaking records at auction. This explosion in popularity is understandable, given that whisky has been one of the top-performing alternative asset classes in recent years. This success is not restricted just to the headline-grabbing top end of the market. As more and more people enter the market, drinkers and investors alike, the availability of casks at all levels decreases and therefore prices go up. The tried and tested supply-and-demand scenario drives the market.

How and What Should I Buy?

It’s worth spending time at the outset focusing on what you want from your cask, as each is different. There’s demand for casks at all stages of their development whether young, middle-aged or fully mature.

These are some of the questions worth considering:

  • Are you looking to drink it?
  • Invest then sell, or a bit of both?
  • What is your timescale?
  • Are you looking to buy a young cask or an older one?
  • Which style and distilleries do you like?
  • What is your budget and what can you afford?

These questions don’t need to be answered immediately but it helps if you have an understanding of your own goals, so we can help you realise them.

Apart from drinking the contents – and a lot of collectors do! – it’s also important to have a possible exit strategy in mind. Independent bottlers are always looking to buy casks at all quality levels, other investors often buy casks from previous owners, or you can bottle and sell some of your whisky.

Possible Returns on Your Investment

If your goal is to maximise profit, we recommend taking a long-term view. Returns are very difficult to predict and depend on several factors including a cask’s age, the distillery, and the type of cask, as well as market conditions and demand.  You may have seen claims by companies and in the press of high profits on whisky casks, but these may be unrealistic. We source our casks as close to the beginning of the supply chain as possible, allowing you as much of the profit as possible.

The correct exit strategy is essential, and we can help you choose the optimum exit moment. We use our network of contacts to locate a buyer for the best price, whether it be a bottler or a broker. Alternatively, you’re free to put it up for auction and let the free market decide the value.

It’s worth noting that whisky bought and sold in cask does not attract capital gains tax in the UK.

Are There Risks?

The whisky market is not regulated and as such there are potential pitfalls, mainly stemming from bad advice and over-hopeful expectations. As an established and reputable merchant, we guard against these issues.

All casks bought through Brunswick are held under our own accounts at bonded warehouses in Scotland, under our HMRC bonded accreditation (WOWGR). Each cask has a unique reference number and can be clearly identified as your property, which is essential for your peace of mind.

Whisky casks have the potential to lose money as well as make money, and despite the market being relatively well insulated from the macro economy compared to other investments, the possibility of losing money is real and should not be ignored.

Please note we are wine & spirit merchants not accredited financial advisors, so we recommend you take advice from your accountant or a qualified financial advisor before buying.

What is the Cost?

We don’t charge for our advice, so should you decide to buy a cask your only cost will be the purchase price of the cask and an annual storage fee, which we invoice every year in April. The storage charge is based on the size of the cask. For example, the annual storage fee for a barrel or hogshead is GBP 64 plus VAT and a sherry butt is GBP 115 plus VAT, importantly this includes insurance of the cask at replacement cost.

Please note that there is an exception to this: if you decide to draw a sample from the cask or have the cask re-gauged or re-racked, we’ll have to obtain specific quotes for these charges in each instance. If you decide to bottle the cask, there will be bottling charges applicable, as well as duty and VAT. Estimates of these fees are available at any time.

What are the Next Steps?

We are perfectly placed to be able you find and buy the right cask, whatever your criteria. If you’d like to discuss this further, please email us at wine@brunswickfinewines.com. We’ll be delighted to discuss your options or send you a list of our present cask availability.