When you buy a whisky cask and allow it to mature in our bonded warehouse, you do so with confidence that its value will keep going up until it’s time for you to sell your whisky and make a considerable profit on your initial investment. But what actually happens to impact the value of your spirits while they are in their casks?
Here are the main factors that affect how your whisky changes in value:
You don’t need to be an expert in the processes of whisky production to know that the age of a whisky cask affects how much it is worth. For one thing, new make spirit must have matured for at least three years in the cask to be able to be called Scotch whisky, so at that point, its value will inevitably rise.
However, that doesn’t simply mean that you should wait three years and a day and then quickly cash in on your asset. Once it has reached that age, it may legally be Scotch, but it can still benefit from further maturation in the cask, so allowing it to continue to mature generally means continuing to increase its value.
There are several ‘border points’ where casks are commonly bottled most frequently, and these are at 8, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 years old. It isn’t necessarily always the case that the longer you leave whisky to mature, the more it is worth.
There are some whiskies that can be matured for over 30 years and these are often amongst the most highly valued on the market because of their rarity. However, a lot of experience and expertise is generally required to find that balance between just the right amount of maturation and too much, which can sometimes result in the whisky being damaged and losing value.
Balvenie Global Ambassador Gemma Paterson explains, “The art of maturing whisky really is a waiting game that relies on time and patience. Samples have to be drawn from casks on a regular basis and shared with our Malt Master to then determine when that whisky has hit the sweet spot in maturation.”
Another key factor that ties in with the length of time the whisky spends in the cask is the nature of that cask itself. After all, the cask is much more than just a storage container for the whisky, it plays a hugely significant role in creating the final product, often said to influence as much as 60-80% of its character.
The flavours and aromas of the whisky come from its reaction with the cask over time and this is because whisky is generally matured in casks that have been used to mature a different kind of alcohol, with its flavours and aromas deep in the wood.
The two most commonly-used casks for whisky maturation are ex-sherry and ex-bourbon, but rum, madeira, port, marsala and various wines are also popular for the variety of flavours they can bring to the final Scotch.
These flavours are what impacts the value of the casks you’ve invested in, which is why you need to consider carefully which cask you choose to invest in. Generally sweeter single malts matured in sherry or madeira casks command higher values, but of course, you need to consider your personal preferences and to do your research into market prices.
Size also plays a key role in the value of your cask. The ratio of spirit to cask surface is the crucial part and while small casks mature quicker, larger casks have a longer maturation time and therefore have longer contact with the wood so absorb more of the flavour. However, often the larger the cask, the larger value it will have.
Are you looking to find out more information on how the value of whisky casks change? Get in touch with our team.