Our antiques expert Allan Blackburn looks back at some thirst-quenching collectables...
It’s Father’s Day this weekend, so I thought we’d raise a glass to all the dads out there and look at a spirited corner of our collecting cabinet: the amber liquid: whisky.
By law, the spirit (usually distilled from barley) can only be called whisky once after maturing for at least three years in oak casks. Single malts, making up just 10% of all whisky production, come from a single distillery, and is the most collectable.
Whisky collecting follows a different pattern in that you’re unlikely to find people hunting for it in antiques centres, although the odd aged bottle that turns up is always exciting.
More likely though to end up drowning your sorrows, there’s always the thrill that you might have unearthed a bottle of something elusive or extra special.
People collect whisky for all kinds of reasons.
Some amass hundreds of bottles from one favoured distillery, some target particular areas of production, for example, the island of Islay, world renowned for its smoky, peaty single malts.
In just five years, the value of the top 1,000 collectable single malt whiskies has more than doubled In total, there are hundreds of thousands of whiskies out there, too many even for this column to cover!
Distilling can become a lifetime of study, new collectors could do worse than research heritage brands such as Balvenie, Glenfarclas, and Ardbeg, newer producers such as Bruichladdich, and posthumous distilleries such as Islay’s Port Ellen.
A hot tip is the young English whisky market, only restarted in 2006.
Japanese whiskies such as Hanyu and the now defunct Karuizawa are highly collectable. Of course most whisky being traded could never be labelled ‘antique’; Macallan Royal Marriage, launched in 2011 for £150, is now worth around £900.
Remember supply is also constantly being consumed, creating that perfect scenario where supply is constantly dwindling but demand is increasing.
I find it a little sad that, contrarily, whisky is considered most valuable when unopened, surely its true destiny is to be opened and enjoyed. Even though it might not be the healthiest collectables advice I’ve passed on, I’d suggest you don’t let the dust gather. Just drink it and enjoy it! These whiskies have been opened and enjoyed so they are no longer valuable!