Sales rumours circulate about rare whisky cask collection

One of the largest private collections of Scotch whisky casks may be going up for sale its owners have hinted.

Speaking to the BBC, Andrew Thomson, whose family owns around 150 casks of rare spirit, said that selling the entire collection was an “option” being considered, saying: “If anyone made us an offer for some or all of the portfolio, we would be obliged to look at it.”

The family reportedly own many casks of Speyside, Islay and Highland malts laid down in the 1970s and 1980s, including hogsheads of Glenlivet and butts of Macallan.

The Thomson family recently sold one cask of 30-year-old Macallan through auctioneers Spink in Hong Kong at the beginning of October for a new world record £285,000.

As the Scotch and indeed world whisky market continues to hot up, with bottles of rare malts achieving higher and higher prices at auction and other sales, the attraction of investing in whole casks is clear.

The number of casks any distillery is willing to offer is naturally quite limited making them highly desirable to those looking for ever rarer, distinctive and more unique whisky tasting experiences.

In a comment to the drinks business and sister publication The Spirits Business, David Robertson, co-founder of Rare Whisky 101, said: “Casks appearing in the secondary market continues to confirm the dynamic and ever increasing demand for high quality, aged, limited edition and rare whiskies. In tandem with the explosive growth we have seen in bottles in the most mature secondary market – the UK – we believe the savvy buyer is confident in the value of rare whisky whenever they can find it.

“Given the booming global demand for rare whisky, these owners could be sitting on a very tidy profit. As demand increases and prices firm we would anticipate cask owners will seek to liquidate their holdings.  Interestingly, at RW101 we have been increasingly active in the sector and have brokered a number of extremely old and rare casks over recent months.”

However, Robertson warned that the buying and selling of casks wasn’t without its potential pitfalls for both parties.

As is well known, whisky in casks suffer a certain amount of evaporation each year which not only drops the quantity of whisky in the barrel but its abv as well.

Robertson said: “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.”

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