Back in the old days, everything was better. You knew your neighbours and you didn’t have to divide your friends in real ones and those you only know from social media. You could even buy great whisky for a fair amount of money at the local spirit retailer of your trust. Today’s shelfs are either cluttered with over the top price tags or filled with ominous NAS (No Age Statement) bottlings, the ones you actually don’t know what’s really inside. So what if you are still in urge for some high quality whisky but don’t want to spend your life savings on the malt passion?
Well, one possibility is of course keeping your eyes open for the enormous amount of new and craft distilleries which are not located in the whisky hotspots of Scotland and Japan. Since these distilleries are relatively small and unknown, their prices are likely to not include any hype- or rarity-factors that may affect those from the traditional producers. One problem could be the availability of these newcomers though and that at some point you just want to have your beloved dram of scotch.
Since many believe that even the modern day releases of the distilleries´ core ranges, if they are at all continued, cannot stand up to their ancestors, you might want to turn your attention to the secondary whisky market. This is the place where mostly private whisky aficionados buy and sell their bottles. Here you will find those whiskies that long have vanished from the shop shelfs, i.e. the good old drams from the good old days. So there are the high quality whiskies, but what about the prices?
While it is true that the staggering prices paid for the ultra-rare whiskies quiet regularly make it to the headlines and the overall price development is the reason that whisky is seen as an alternative investment nowadays, it is still possible to find some true pearls for reasonable money. To do so, you need to be informed, and that is where databases like Whiskystats.net can help you. You can either track the value of your desired bottle to find the right time to buy it or you can scan the market for bottlings that best suit your price notion. So let us suppose you want to prepare yourself for the upcoming shortage of minimum aged labelled whisky for little money.
What you should avoid: Don’t get us wrong, the following listing is full of great whisky and if you can afford it or find a real bargain you should definitely go for it. The problem is though, that the quality and magnificence of these bottlings is no secret at all and therefor they are very highly sought after. What we are talking about are the limited releases from the hype distilleries and some bottling series from the major independent bottlers. The reason for this is that these bottles are very collectible and you may find yourself paying prices that prevent you from opening them. Prime examples are the Rare Malts Selection series from Diageo or most parts (especially the very old bottlings) of The Old Malt Cask range from Douglas Laing. And there are of course the majority of the silent distilleries. If you have plans on buying an old vintage of the Karuizawa distillery, you better postbone your upcoming holiday to next year. On the other side, these are the bottles with the most outstanding price movements, but this would be a topic on its own.
What you should look for: Our gratitude should once again go to some exceptional independent bottlers. These companies do not only supply us with whiskies that we almost forgot about but also produce some of the most underrated bottles on the secondary market. Keep your eyes open for bottlings that do not belong to major series and therefor may not be that collectible. You will find a fair amount of single cask bottlings and even some hype-distillerie´s whisky that sells for much less than it´s OB (original bottling) counterparts. You could also look for those core range bottlings that are already or soon to be discontinued. As these bottlings may be still available in other countries, it is possible that you get those for only little more than their retail price once was.
If you are new to the idea of buying whiskies at online auctions you might want to check out the Whiskystats-Board, a blog that may help you to get an overview on the secondary whisky market. If you are an experienced collector, you may want to become a (free-of-charge) Whiskystats-Member. This gains you access to the historic prices of more than 16.000 Scotch and Japanese whiskies and a variety of tools to analyse this data.