By Jonny McCormick

Ask the expert

Send your questions to editorial@whiskymag.com or by post to: Q&A, Whisky Magazine, 6 Woolgate Court, St Benedicts Street, Norwich, England, NR2 4AP
I ’m in my twenties and I figured I would combine my young age and love for business and whisky and start a collection. I plan on making some long-term investments. I’ve read up on a few brands such as Macallan that have increased in value significantly over the last few years. Still, I’m very inexperienced in this field, and I have some questions. Is there a specific type of whisky that is smart to focus on when I am planning to store it for at least 15 years? Which brands or specific bottles are worth investing in over the long term? I’ve understood that old usually means good, considering I’m buying quality brands, would this be the case every time?
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With a head for business and a good nose for whisky, this could be the start of a fulfilling, life-long passion. Given our thirst for the new, many individuals focus on new special editions. As collectors, we watch them seed into the auction market within weeks of release, discussions fixating on the short-term value spike and the scramble for quick profit.

It’s heartening to know that you are building a collection as a long-term project, using your passion to drive up knowledge of the distilleries and brands, to the end result of a good long-term return. Liquidity is in your hands.

Long-term investments need not be extravagant purchases. Dozens of whiskies will be unavailable in the next few years that are readily available today, making them deliciously attractive to future collectors. Much can change in 15 years; companies substitute their classic whisky ranges, refresh packaging, limited editions are supplanted by new lines, the fickle presence of age statements appear at the mercy of the distiller’s inventory, industry regulations redraw what can go into the bottle, multinational takeover deals put new owners in charge of familiar distilleries, and even the spectre of distillery closures could return. History is on your side.

Dozens of whiskies will be unavailable in the next few years that are readily available today, making them deliciously attractive to future collectors.


The Macallan is the most collectible single malt whisky in the world and has dominated the Whisky Magazine Index, however, astute collectors who recognised the ascendancy of the Japanese whisky scene made strategic long-term investments and reaped the rewards of the incredible growth in the value of their collection. Macallan remains a strong brand to put away for a rainy day, but it’s no longer a secret.

As a long-term investor, exploit your knowledge of whisky to sniff out niche brands and invest in products from distilling nations yet to be discovered by the masses. The next five years will be a golden opportunity to buy inaugural releases from new distilleries, especially from Scotland and Ireland. Once consumers and the industry decide we have hit ‘peak distilleries’, the inaugural release market will recede, although it’s difficult to bank on these young spirits making huge sums in the long term.

The next five years will be a golden opportunity to buy inaugural releases from new distilleries, especially from Scotland and Ireland.


Otherwise, a number of bicentenary and landmark anniversary editions will be released over the next 15 years. Bottlings from silent distilleries are popular, but for novice collectors, closed cult distillery new releases can be objectionably expensive. The biggest wave of Scottish distillery closures in living memory was nearly 35 years ago, so bagging a new release from Brora or Port Ellen will be a luxury only affordable to a number of individuals.

Old doesn’t strictly mean good, old just means, well, old.

Sipping great aged expressions can be a mind-blowing experience, but I’ve equally consumed indifferent older whiskies that have become tired and overly woody. Nothing can resuscitate flat-lining, one-dimensional flavour profiles, their pallid complexions infused with spirit caramel. Taste voraciously, and check the spark hasn’t gone out before you buy. You need a razor-sharp strategy that doesn’t rely on what has gone before.

Plug into information about whisky to help you spot trends and keep abreast of news. Seek a combination of distillery, age, price, hype, packaging, and review scores. Pounce on limited releases and travel to fresh destinations to acquire festival releases and distillery-only bottlings. From an auction perspective, Scotch and Japanese whisky have surged recently, American whiskies are catching up, but Irish whiskey and Canadian whisky have yet to rise to the top. Go forth and spend wisely.