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Cask Trade extends the first cask marketplace in APAC

UK whisky cask company Cask Trade has extended its service in Hong Kong to introduce direct cask trading to the Asia Pacific market. 

Speaking to db Asia, John Wong, regional director of sales and marketing at Cask Trade Hong Kong, explained how the sector has evolved.

Ever since the whisky trend started to grow in Asia in recent decades, drinkers are, it is rumoured, becoming more and more obsessed with the dark spirit. Indeed, in recent years, enthusiasts have become increasingly attracted to purchasing casks as passion projects or investment opportunities.

According to Wong, who gave an overview of the clientele demographic of Cask Strength’s Hong Kong outpost, things have moved on considerably and, he identified how “compared to our client based in the UK, we see the clientele in Asia is rather young. They are mostly around 40 years old and they are purchasing casks as alternative assets. Meanwhile, we are also getting more and more young working professionals, between 25-33 years old. This client group tends to be keen on different investment formats, for instance, many of them are active in crypto investment at the same time”.

Wong explained: “We’ve been running the Hong Kong office operation for almost a year. So far, our customers are mostly from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan. Despite most of them are purchasing for investment, we also have a number of customers who are bottlers, largely from Japan, who wish to through our service to find the ideal cask for bottling. On these purposes, our company can offer sample tasting for them to locate their whisky preference.”

According to the company, the business extends to Hong Kong in part because it saw a 25% growth in its Asian business, with all signs pointing to the continued growth of at least an additional 25%. In China alone, Euromonitor estimates that whisky sales will reach £2.2 billion in 2022, showing there is still plenty of headroom for the category to grow further.

To begin, Wong and his team will guide clients through their goals, budgets, and hold times in order to pick the right casks for their portfolio. Cask Trade Hong Kong offers a robust selection of spirits, including top-tier casks from recognisable names like Macallan, Highland Park, and Bowmore, as well as New-make casks, Irish whiskey and even rum and cognac. It offers all its casks at advantageous UK-pegged prices, the most competitive price in Asia-Pacific, starting from HK$15,000. Through the effort from the Hong Kong team, customers can access professional advice, get samples from their casks to ensure optimal quality, and receive Certificates of Ownership and Transfers of Title. Delivery orders can and will be issued to customers who can receive them.

“We are only selling the whole casks here, instead of fractional sales. Our service is still a bit rare in Asia, where most cask selling service providers are either brokers or agents,” Wong explained.

The exit strategies are for sure another important consideration for clients. Wong is confident about the range of truly flexible exit options as the company holds a  global customer database and five in-house exit strategies. Depending on their goals, clients can choose Buy-Back, Bottle, Consignment, or Private Sale, or Auction.

With a dedicated live auction website, Cask Trade Hong Kong gives clients the option of selling their casks at auction to maximise profitability, a rare option among cask marketplaces in Asia-Pacific. The dedicated in-house exit channel has sold over £400,000 worth of casks through quarterly auctions.

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