When a bottle of Yamazaki 55 was sold in 2020 for a record-breaking $795,000, the world sat up and took notice. This sale represented a new milestone for a Japanese single malt, tilting the focus of whisky collecting towards Asia: a region that had been promising to become the next powerhouse of whisky investment for a number of years.
Now, it has definitely arrived.
Asia turns to liquid gold
Throughout Asia, a growing population with rising disposable income is expected to propel demand for whisky even further over the next five years, with an increasing preference for more premium and super premium products. At the same time, many investors in the region are turning to alternative assets such as whisky to weather the storms of global market volatility. Globally, whisky has enjoyed a history of continuous, steady growth, unlike the fluctuations which are often seen in other luxury assets, like art, coins or wine.
As investors across Asia begin looking to expand their portfolios, attention has inevitably turned to whisky casks. The Asian region is hungry for rare casks, pushing up prices globally due to the limited supply from Scotland’s distilleries. Over the past few years, some of the biggest cask sales in recent times have been made to investors from Asia.
What are Asian Whisky cask investors looking for?
When it comes to selecting casks, investors throughout Asia tend to seek out stock from Scotland’s best-known distilleries, with a strong focus on the biggest and most famous brands. Traditionally, whisky cask investment has been concentrated on high-net-worth individuals, looking to own casks to fulfil an ambition to become part of a whisky heritage, a reflection of their love of whisky culture. These investors have been concentrated in areas like Singapore and Hong Kong. However, now across mainland China, other kinds of investors are increasingly turning to whisky casks as a means of protecting and growing their wealth, representing a huge and growing market for a wider selection of casks of different ages and prices.
The Asian investor has traditionally thought long-term, choosing products that will provide dividends for future generations, which has always been a part of Asian culture with its focus on family and longevity. Therefore, the steady maturation of whisky casks, which gain significant value after ten years, is an attractive option for that investment mindset.
The biggest cask sales on the planet
At Braeburn Whisky, we have been at the forefront of sales to the Asian market. In May 2020, Braeburn sold a Macallan 1988 for $458,180 to an investor in Hong Kong (the cask had originally been purchased in June 2016 for $191,930). A rare Highland Park cask, bought in October 2007 for £9,250 (6yo) was later sold to an Asian investor in August 2020 (19yo) for £45,550.
Our focus is now expanding to include corporate investors and family firms, with a dedicated team at Braeburn Whisky specializing in managing casks for the Asian market.
The year of the cask
The new year has begun with a feeling of quiet optimism in the region, which has weathered the storm of the pandemic with relative success compared to other parts of the world. The coming Year of the Ox promises to see a huge expansion in the untapped market for Asian whisky cask investment with more investors competing for Scotland’s most coveted casks as interest in whisky continues to rise throughout Asia.
To speak to our Asia sales team, please contact Monica Cui at Braeburn Whisky.