Collecting whisky is an interesting and polarising hobby; some people think you should not collect, but buy only to open and some think you should build collections as both an investment and as a traditional hobby.
Let’s explore the motivations behind collecting whisky and what it means, as personally I am a balance of all three; my motivations vary and the enjoyment I get from the whisky changes depending on my mindset at the time of buying, opening, staring at or drinking the whisky.
Collecting whisky only to open and drink
I collect whisky to open and drink now and in the future, buying multiples of limited edition bottles I really enjoy to be able to enjoy them both now and later in life.
Other people I know collect whisky only to open and are quite vocal about how whisky is to be drunk, to be opened, to be poured and to be moved on from; for this I buy bottles to share amongst friends so I have tried them, but keep a bottle in the collection for opening and enjoying at another time.
Collecting whisky as an investment
I collect whisky as an investment, although not that much… I always have grand plans to treat this as the retirement plan but sometimes I get excited and open some of the investment grade stuff out of curiosity or because someone is staying over who would enjoy the bottle as much as I would… or I get offered a price I cannot refuse so sell in order to buy more and tailor the collection a bit more.
Most whisky people I know are similar in approach, although there are some fabulous collections out there with awesome examples of old bottles, rare bottles and beautiful bottles that are long-since unavailable.
One thing I also do is buy casks of both new make (fresh from the stills) and matured whisky for later in life both to bottle under the GreatDrams brand and to enjoy with my son when he is of legal drinking age (and not a minute more as the cask I bought for the two of us will be exactly eighteen years old then too).
Make sure you follow my advice here where I explain why you need to track your collection using the fantastic WhiskyBase.com as it will allow you to track open, closed, finished bottles in lists of your choice, for example I use private lists to remind me which whiskies are for investment, which are for whisky tastings I host and which are in the main collection ready for opening.
When storing for investment, or in general, make sure you keep your bottles upright, out of direct sunlight and at a consistent temperature – does not massively matter what the temperature is, but keep it constant, just like when this awesome spirit was resting in casks for all those years.
Collecting whisky as a traditional hobby
I also collect whisky as a hobby; I like looking at the bottles, reading the stories, seeing generations of the same product lined up on the shelves in my office, each capturing a moment in any given brand’s history… they also get opened, consumed, enjoyed, compared, shared and loved.
As you can see, there are many different motivations to collecting whisky and many different things you can do with whisky once you buy a bunch of bottles.
If there is one thing to remember is that whatever your motivations are as you go about collecting whisky, it’s this… very rarely does whisky go down in value so your collection, at worst, should return you exactly when you put in to it, although some bottles will become stars and make you a tidy sum, others will appreciate slightly and some will remain flat in value so you might as well just drink them.
What’s your approach to collecting whisky? I want to know your thoughts, approach and any surprises you’ve had along the way.