Whiskey is taking over the world in 2023. Here are the best investment whiskeys you should be looking out for.
Updated Jan 3, 2023
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If you think life's greatest pleasures are free, then you haven't tried whiskey. Whiskey is growing in popularity worldwide, and many who've found success in wine investing are looking at a whiskey investment as their next lucrative opportunity. Old and rare bottles of whiskey or fine spirits are some of the best alternative assets to hold because they along the way.
However, finding whisky investments in 2023 isn't as straightforward as investing in your retirement account or picking bottles off a shelf.
It's not enough for a whiskey to just have desirable traits; it must also be exclusive and highly sought after.
Whiskeys are far from homogenous, and determining the best investment whiskey requires a comprehensive understanding of what whiskey is and how it's made. Here are the best whisky investments you can make on any budget.
Best whiskey to invest in 2023
Before you buy whisky casks or even a rare bottle, you should be as familiar with whiskey types as you are with whiskey brands. A single corporation will often own several whiskey brands that each produce a variety of single-grain and blended varieties.
Every fine whiskey is characterized by the grain blend, the species of wood of the cask, and how long the whisky cask was aged. These three traits determine the flavor and quality of fine whiskey, but the label plays a crucial role in how your whiskey investment performs.
It's not enough for a whiskey to just have desirable traits; it must also be exclusive and highly sought after. Name brands produce great quality whiskey, but you must consider quantity (the supply) before investing. That's what makes the prices of rare Macallan Scotch whisky or Van Winkle Bourbon so damn high.
Investors prefer limited edition and vintage whiskeys for the highest return on investment because their rarity and scarcity drive up their value. If you have a high tolerance for risk, you may want to consider investing in a whisky cask to maximize ROI. A cask investment takes longer to mature but is more valuable than most whiskey bottles.
Best blended Scotch: Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen
First is a limited-release Blue Label from Johnnie Walker called Ghost and Rare Port Ellen. This 2020 release is the second in a series of "ghost" whiskeys, meaning a rare whisky from a distillery that no longer exists. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen is a blend of three ghost whiskies and five rare malts that compose a unique and complex flavor profile.
This unique blend gets its namesake from the Port Ellen distillery that shut down in 1983. At the heart of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Ghost and Rare Port Ellen is the iconic Islay single malt Scotch whisky, a ghost whisky coveted by aficionados. This blend, composed of several rare and highly sought-after Scotch whiskies, also happens to be from a household brand, thus making it an excellent blended Scotch whisky to invest in.
Best single barrel Tennessee whiskey: Uncle Nearest 11 Year 1820 Premium Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey
One of the fastest-growing American whiskey brands is Uncle Nearest. Uncle Nearest is a Black-owned company comprised of three Tennessee distilleries. Uncle Nearest 1820 Premium Single Barrel 11-Year-Old Whiskey won Best Tennessee Whiskey at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards, making it one of the best investors’ whiskeys from an up-and-coming distillery.
Considering that it's a small-batch whiskey, the Uncle Nearest 1820 is one of the most affordable premium whiskeys money can buy right now. Uncle Nearest claims that less than 1% of their Premium whiskey is bottled for the Single Barrel, demonstrating their emphasis on quality over quantity. The precision and care dedicated to producing Uncle Nearest makes their single barrel rye whiskey a promising investment.
Best blended Bourbon: Blood Oath Pact No. 8
If you're looking for the best Bourbon investment, look no further than Lux Row Distillers' Blood Oath Pact No. 8. Blood Oath is a series of seven limited-run blended bourbons. This highly-anticipated Bourbon blend consists of three whiskeys aged 8, 11, and 14 years and finished in an ex-Calvados cask for hints of apple and pear brandy.
Blood Oath Bourbons are some of the most affordable premium whiskeys upon release, but the resale value of previous releases has doubled or more from their retail price. Lux Row's limited marketing has kept their brand low-key, so don't expect to hear much from them leading up to release. Nevertheless, investors should keep an eye out for this exclusive bourbon as it hit shelves this year.
Best Japanese blend: Hibiki Blend 21 Year
Asia is the fastest-growing whisky market, and Japan is the most prolific whisky producer in the region. Japanese distillers have long taken after the Scottish, but Japan's fine whisky industry has gained notoriety in recent decades for its competitive quality. Today, Suntory is the most reputable Japanese whisky brand, and its acclaim has made it popular overseas.
One of Suntory's most decorated whiskies is the Hibiki Blend. Hibiki is a malt and grain whisky blend known for its signature fruity and spicy tastes. The 21-year-old Hibiki Blend won Best Blended Whisky four times out of seven at the World Whiskies Awards, with other versions winning several gold medals. Regardless of age, the Hibiki Blend is an excellent whisky investment because bottles have consistently appreciated up to 30% annually since 2020 and show no signs of stopping.
Best Irish blend: Midleton Very Rare Vintage Blended Irish Whiskey
Midleton released their annual Very Rare Irish Whiskey in March just in time for St. Patrick's day. This vintage blend is made from Midletons exclusive stock of rare single malt and single pot whiskeys handcrafted by one of their master distillers. After aging the whiskeys from 12 to 33 years, the blend is matured in a lightly-charred ex-Bourbon cask made of American oak.
This vintage blend is particularly exciting because Midleton's elaborate distillation process produces a journey of complex flavors and aromas. Midleton is a lesser-known brand, but prices for their 2017 Very Rare Vintage Blended Irish Whiskey went through the roof last year and have more than doubled since February 2021. While investors aren't guaranteed to see the same level of growth with this year's release, this trend could continue for subsequent rare whiskey releases by Midleton.
Best Rye Whiskey: Colonel E.H. Taylor Barrel Proof Rye
Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr.'s Barrel Proof Rye whiskey is different from the rest on the list. Not only is it the only rye whiskey, but it is also the only barrel-proof whiskey. While most whiskeys are diluted after they're aged, barrel-proof whiskey is not, so bottles have higher alcohol by volume. Although their parent company Buffalo Trace has yet to announce Barrel Proof Rye Whiskey's release date, we can infer that it'll come out this year according to a label approved by the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau.
This release is a barrel-proof version of E.H. Taylor's Straight Rye Whiskey, bottles that have tripled in value over the past two years. Additionally, other varieties like the Barrel Proof Uncut & Unfiltered Kentucky Straight Bourbon have had comparable price performance over the same period. Whether this is a limited release is anyone's guess, so investors should be keen on getting their hands on a bottle while they last.
Best Japanese single malt: The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky
Collectors with a more exotic taste should look toward Japan for excellent-quality whisky at the most reasonable prices. Let's revisit another Suntory product: this time, a single malt whisky by the oldest distillery in Japan. The Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky is an increasingly rare single malt known for its smooth tropical flavor.
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The Yamazaki distillery bottles their single malt as young as eight years to as mature as 55 years old. The 18-year-old single malt variety should be of particular interest to investors because it won the best Japanese Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards, and bottles have appreciated 10% annually over the past two years. It's unlikely for this bottle to rise parabolically in price, but the Yamazaki 18-year-old is one of the steadiest investments on this list, nevertheless.
Best Premium Scotch to invest in now: The Macallan Anniversary Malt
If you read this far, you're super serious about whisky investing. So, we must include at least one rare whisky icon: The Macallan Anniversary Malt 25-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The Macallan has one of the strongest reputations in the whiskey world and ranks among the top Scotch whisky distillers in terms of both price and quality. While the Macallan is still a high-end brand that produces luxury Scotch, their most exclusive releases are behind them.
The Anniversary Malt is a special edition single-malt Scotch whisky that can easily auction at well above $6,000 depending on the bottling year. The oldest 1957 release costs around $13,000 or more, but later releases of this limited edition single malt have plateaued or even dipped in price. Vintage Macallan whisky bottles are some of the most sought-after whiskeys in the world, so perhaps now is an opportunity for new investors to enter the Macallan market.
Best Premium Scotch to look out for: GlenDronach Highland Single Malt
Too good for Macallan, are we? If you're looking for a Speyside distillery that'll give you a bigger bang for your buck, then GlenDronach might be a great investment. GlenDronach is Scotland's second-oldest distillery, but it was quite obscure before they began specializing in ex-Sherry maturation in the mid-20th century. The distillery has produced some of the highest-value Scotch whiskies since Brown-Foreman acquired it in 2016.
GlenDronach's most mature expression to date is the 50-Year-Old Highland Single Malt. This handcrafted Scotch is set to be one of the most exclusive whiskey this year—with a retail price tag of $25,000, it may also be the most expensive. Sotheby's recently sold one of the 198 bottles (packaged with an experience at the GlenDronach distillery) for a whopping £40,000. As long as it's well-received by critics, the GlenDronach 50-Year-Old Highland Single Malt could have excellent value in the long term.
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How to invest in whiskey
Investing in whiskey requires only three steps: buy, store, and sell. But that's all easier said than done. Unlike how wine must be stored in certain conditions, whiskey storage is easier because it can be kept at room temperature. Whether you're flipping bottles or holding for a long-term investment, it's best to keep whiskey from direct exposure to light.
In any case, holding your whiskey bottles in self-storage is risky, and ultimately finding a buyer could be challenging, especially for the most luxurious items. Those looking to invest in whiskey without having to store or sell bottles should consider investment platforms like Vint and CaskX. Vint allows users to trade shares in their private wine and spirit collection. Vint takes care of storage and selling the bottles, and investors get a share of the profit When Vint makes a sale.
If you're looking for a more significant investment, CaskX is a platform that allows users to invest in full barrels of Scotch and Bourbon. CaskX takes care of insurance, taxes, and storage fees and also helps clients resell or bottle the whiskey when it matures. CaskX is the easiest way to invest in legit whiskey casks.