For investors with cash to spare, it pays to put liquid assets into a liquid asset. That’s provided the liquid is a rare single malt Scotch whisky, the asset of choice for moneyed buyers with a taste for the good stuff.
According to the latest edition of Knight Frank’s Wealth Report, 2018 was a “transformational” year for the spirit, with bottles soaring above the £1 million ($1.3 million) mark at auction for the first time. The record-breaking whisky in question was a Macallan 1926 single malt, in a one-of-a-kind bottle painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon. A month earlier, a bottle of the same whisky set the then-world record price of £700,000. The Knight Frank Rare Whisky 100 Index, which tracks the price of this liquid gold at auction, gained almost 40% over the course of the year, beating out rare coins, wine, art, watches, and other luxury “objects of desire” tracked by the British consulting firm.
These days, the report explains, Asian high-net-worth investors are making use of direct flights between Edinburgh and Beijing to learn about, and invest in, the most exclusive whiskies on the market. They’re snapping up whole casks of the spirit for punchy prices, whether as a savvy investment or a very tasty status symbol. A chain of whisky-themed bars named after Scotch celebrity Charles Maclean is reportedly in the works on the Chinese mainland, for those who can’t justify making the trip when they fancy a dram.
Growing interest in the drink has led to Diageo announcing plans last year to invest £185m ($240m) in Scotch whisky tourist attractions and visitor centres. A further 10 Scottish distilleries were set to open last year, including one in Scotland’s southern Borders region for the first time in nearly two centuries.