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What to Look For When Investing in Malts

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1. Distillery and Brand

The distillery and brand of a whisky bottle play a major role in defining the value, Macallan continues to be the most sought after single malt whisky but other distilleries such as Springbank, Ardbeg and Bruichladdich can be quite valuable as well.

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2. Age / Vintage Statement

The age of the whisky is determined by the number of years the whisky has spent maturing in its cask and not the number years it has spent in its bottle. Whisky doesn’t age in the bottle. As a general rule of thumb, the older the whisky the more valuable it is. Naturally there are some exceptions for specific limited edition bottles or special vintages.

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3. Bottling Date

The bottling year is indicated for most bottles, where this is not the case, you can sometimes figure out when a bottle was actually bottled from the bottling code found on some bottles of whisky.

However many codes only mean something to the bottler and were put on the bottles for quality control reasons. A few examples:

Glenmorangie/Ardbeg Bottles
A good example of bottling codes found on malt whisky bottles are those found on whiskies bottled by Glenmorangie. Do note that the bottling codes they use can be easily interpreted.

For example the bottle a Ardbeg has a code very faintly engraved into the glass near the bottom of the bottle.  An example of such a code is: L7 256 21:15 4ML This code translated means it was bottled in the year 2007 on the 256th day at 9.15pm that day. 4ML is the code for Ardbeg.

Diageo Bottles:
Diageo has a similar and easy system, for example Talisker has the following code printed just above the rear label on the glass. An example of such a code is: L7302CM000. This code translated means it was bottled in the year 2007 on the 302nd day and it is a Classic Malt. There is another line of numbers underneath this code were put on the bottle by Diageo for quality control reasons.

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4. Year of Distillation

The year of distillation might also be described as the bottle vintage, and refers to the specific year in which the whisky was, well … “made whisky”‘. It is one of the most if not the important factor that will impact the price of collectible whisky.

Generally speaking, the earlier the distillation year the more collectible the bottle of whisky. Bottles from the first and mid-20th century are the most highly valued by collectors and investors That being said, the bottler is also important, and so two whisky’s distilled in the same year, at the same distillery, but bottled by different bottlers will vary in value.

This is also because production of certain bottles was discontinued after a particular year or made in only a particular year. This also means that the earlier the bottle was distilled the higher the value attributed to it.

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5. Packaging, Label and Seal

The label, seal and packaging on the bottle are equally as important as the content of of the bottle. If these are damaged in anyway, the bottle will be valued considerably less.

The condition of the case or box and the seal is equally as important, if a bottle is not in its original case or the case is damaged or marked or has any other blemish, this will affect the value of the bottle and may even render it useless.

When storing your whisky, be careful beause humidity in cellars can damage the label. Do you want to know more about storing your collection? Please visit our ‘How to store your collection‘ page.

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6. Filling Level

As a standard the filling level of your bottle should be well into the neck, the value of the bottle will be significantly impacted once the level starts drops towards the lower half of the neck or shoulder.When seeking to acquire a bottle for investment purposes – please check the liquid level carefully!

The table shown below could be an indicator on value lost if the filling level is lower than the neck.

Fill Level Retained Value
Into the Neck 100%
High Shoulder 75%
Upper Mid Shoulder 65%
Mid Shoulder 60%
Lower Mid Shoulder 55%
Low Shoulder 45%
High Body 20%
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7. Single Cask Bottlings, Limited Editions and Discontinued Expressions

When a whisky release has come from a Single Cask or Barrel and is bottled separately, each bottle will bear the barrel number and in most cases the dates for the beginning and end of ageing. Each barrel is thought to contribute unique characteristics to the finished whisky.

These Single casks bottles are potentially exciting collectibles for collectors. They have unique identifiers that distinguish them from other bottles. For instance, the single cask bottles of The Macallan are expressed as XXX/250. Other limited editions have longer expressions.

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8. Rarity

The fewer the bottles, the more valuable a whisky can be.The right bottle can escalate many times in value over the years, especially if it came from a limited barrel.

Apart from that exclusive single cask bottlings are always very valuable to a collection because they’re limited in number,

Lastly, cask strength spirits have an enduring popularity and tend to be more sought-after than those with a lower Alcohol percentage.

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