Bourbon Vs Single Malt Scotch

Bourbon Vs Single Malt Scotch

When chatting about what I do over a pint at the local watering-hole, I’m often asked if bourbon is really whisky. Once, while hosting an ‘Introduction to Whisky’ tasting event several years ago, I included a bourbon. One guest was so shocked that they almost walked out of the tasting!

Simply put, Scotch is whisky made in Scotland, bourbon is a variety of whiskey (note the ‘e’) made in the USA.

Let’s start with the spelling. The ‘e’ in bourbon whiskey has two origins, the first being from the Irish spelling. The second to make it sound like a more up-market product than simple whisky in an age when Scotch was not at its best. The name ‘bourbon’ originates from the French bourbon dynasty, when France ruled of large swathes of what is now the USA.




While most associated with Kentucky, bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA. It must be made from over 51% corn (with the rest of the malt bill made up of rye, wheat and barley). And aged in new fill (or ‘virgin’) charred American-oak barrels for a minimum of two years. On the other hand, Scotch whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years, and usually in second hand (or ‘re-filled’ barrels) that were previously those used to age bourbon whisky.

While most Scotch whisky is mass-produced and blended from numerous malt and grain distilleries, most whisky lovers enjoy Single Malt Scotch. This is usually aged twice as long as bourbon whisky in a much cooler environment. Resulting in a softer and subtler drink than bourbon which is usually full-flavoured, oaky and spicy.

Single malt scotch


Single Malt Scotch is therefore often viewed as the higher quality whisk(e)y which is not a wise assumption to make. While the Scotch Whisky Association’s rules are strict, they still allow for the use of caramel colouring E150A; this is banned in bourbon. Especially when drinking entry-level whiskies, a cheap bourbon is often a better choice than a cheap Scotch. Next time you’re out, compare a Woodford Reserve to a no-age-statement Glen Keith. I know which one I’ll be drinking!

For an older dram, you’ll probably be wanting to go for a Single Malt Scotch. The evaporation rate of bourbon is so great that it’s rare to find one that’s anywhere near 12 years old, let alone 21! The use of less active oak casks, 100% malted barley, and a slower maturation, results in a much more complex flavour. With hundreds of distilleries and cask types to choose from, the choice is endless!

At the end of the day, I drink young Bourbon and old Scotch and keep bottles of both…


James Russell

james russell


Glen Garioch – Complex, Balanced and Affordable!

Glen Garioch – Complex, Balanced and Affordable!

Cask ownership – business & Pleasure

Let’s talk about Glen Garioch!


Glen Garioch (pronounced ‘Geery’) is one of the very oldest whisky distilleries. It was established in 1797 in an area of Aberdeenshire. – Renowned for producing the finest barley in all of Scotland.

Glen Garioch is owned by Suntory (who also own the world-famous Yamazaki and Bowmore distilleries) and is popular in duty free and the Asian market. These distilleries produce millions of litres of spirit a year. In comparison, Glen Garioch remains a small distillery, distilling  700,000 litres a year. It focuses on tradition and quality.

The whisky

The distillate, while capable of producing excellent young releases, is best aged for over 15 years. Old releases of Glen Garioch are renowned for being especially complex and balanced. Especially when aged in the more sympathetic subtle traditional ‘refill’ bourbon casks.

When tasting the samples of our 2008 Glen Garioch casks, we were delighted to find that they exemplified this distillery’s unique character with plenty of sweet malt and delicate floral flavours.

In stock!

Our casks were distilled in October of 2008, being currently 11 years old. I would recommend holding them for at least four years until they are 15 years old. But these would ideally be bottled at 18 years old, a true sweet-spot for this whisky.

These have been in high demand and if you are interested in learning more, do not hesitate to get in touch with us! 

Leo tried a different 2008 Glen Garioch cask to James’, to compare, find out what he thought about it – on Youtube!

New arrivals! Glen Moray 2010

New arrivals! Glen Moray 2010

Brand new arrivals – Glen Moray 2010 Hogsheads!

These casks are suitable for a 3 year-long investment. They will be ready to be bottled at 12 years old as they have just turned 9!

This is one of our absolute favourites! With typical taste of toffee, coconut and vanilla, we’ll ask you to save us a bottle…


Since being purchased by La Martiniquaise, Glen Moray has benefited from an ambitious expansion. As a host of new releases, it re-established itself as a big name in Speyside whisky.  It also became a significant competitor to premium brands such as Glenmorangie. In 2018, the distillery produced five times as much spirit as it did in 1897. Despite this enormous output, all 85,000 casks continue to be traditionally matured on-site.


The original brewery, known as Elgin West, had been producing ales since 1830. In its early years, Glen Moray was remarkable for using a wide range of casks to mature its whiskies in. It was closed in 1910 and resurrected by the MacDonald and Muir families, the owners of Glenmorangie

He bottled a 31 year old whisky and put it on sale at the distillery. This was highly unusual, considering the prevalence of blended whisky over single malt at the time. During the 1980’s and 90’s, Edwin Dodson, the Master Distiller, was one of the first people to experiment with unusual cask types. He released1999 Glen Moray expressions aged in Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay barrels. 

whisky cask

Read more about Cask Investment here.


Speyside 2015 – Perfect for first time buyers!

Speyside 2015 – Perfect for first time buyers!

The Speyside Distillery is a small, independent distillery with only one master distiller. It doesn’t produce a great amount of whisky but bets on quality instead! 

We’ve got a couple of 2015 barrels in our stock, all priced well below £2000/cask! This is a great opportunity for first time buyers. – Learn about whisky investment, put your name on a cask of this popular distillery and don’t spend a crazy amount of money the first time around.

At 5 years old, it’s already, legally, whisky and a great investment opportunity. Read our Cask Investment Guide for more in-depth information, but in a nutshell on these specific casks:

  • Hold it for a minimum of 5 years
  • Request a sample in a couple of years, once it’s matured enough
  • Discuss your other options with us (bottling, sale, auction,…)
  • Speyside signature characteristics: Light, fruity and delicate = you can’t go wrong here!

Get in touch with us if interested and let’s talk whisky!

cask investment


An Expensive Hobby vs a Smart Investment?

An Expensive Hobby vs a Smart Investment?

Why would you buy a cask of 2019 newly-made spirit from a new distillery when for a third of the price you could have a cask of whisky from a reputable distillery?(it must be, legally, over three years old)

When looking to invest in a cask, one of the most popular options is to purchase a barrel of new-make whisky from a new distillery. It’s a great experience and highly romantic, often including a trip to the warehouse, a round of golf and storage included for 10 years.

However, there is a downside to all the pomp and circumstance. The prices you are charged (often over £4000) reflects the value of a fully mature 10-year-old whisky, not new-make spirit. In most cases, as a ‘custodian’, you cannot sell your cask in-bond for profit and are restricted to bottling your cask. Therefore, it’s not an investment, it’s an expensive hobby. Not all new distilleries are successful either. You have no way of knowing if a business that’s only just started will still be going, or have any sort of reputation, in 10 years’ time.


For the serious investor…

For the serious investor looking to buy a cask at a young age for a medium to long-term investment, there’s another, better, option. We sell casks of single malt whisky from established distilleries such as GlenAllachie, the Speyside Distillery, Glen Moray, Glen Ord, Blair Athol, Glen Elgin and Teaninich. There’s already a buzzing community of independent bottlers and collectors for these whiskies.

You can own one for as little at £1,500. Held in bond, you are free to trade these casks for profit, draw samples, or bottle yourself with your own personalised label.

These casks are not new-make. They’re already over three years old and legally whisky. That’s three years less that you have to wait to realise your investment.

Invest into cask whisky – video – We asked a few people about their own experience with investing into casks of whisky and here’s what they have to say about it.

Get in touch to request our latest stock list and let’s talk whisky!




Does using organic barley affect the flavour of a whisky?

We have the answer – an entire cask of Bruichladdich, distilled in 2012 kind of an answer!

Everybody wants organic. Bruichladdich’s ‘Barley’ series has proved enormously popular and now’s the chance for the hippest whisky lover to own (or bottle!) a whole single cask of organic Bruichladdich for the first time in years.

It’s not the oldest whisky, but organic certification, a first fill bourbon barrel and superb spirit has resulted in an outstanding whisky.

Drink responsibly! – Buying this cask will scientifically reduce your carbon footprint. 🙂


Read all about first fill and refill casks HERE.

Should you judge a whisky by its colour?

Should you judge a whisky by its colour?

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a phrase we’re all familiar with yet at times guilty of ignoring.

We buy with our eyes.  When comparing a dark-coloured whisky with a light-coloured whisky our brains trick us into telling us that the darker whisky is superior. This is due to a misconception that colour reflects richness of flavour. However, we must bear in mind that with taste this is not always the case. A well-made bearnaise sauce can be much fuller flavoured than an average dark gravy, in very much the same way a craft India Pale Ale will be tastier than a can of Guinness.

whisky colour

Many whisky companies fool us with a simple trick. They add E150A, or caramel colouring, which makes many of your favourite single malts unnaturally dark.

Other whiskies, especially single cask releases from fresh sherry casks, impart the colour of the liquid they’ve previously held. However, these casks only account for a minute proportion of all scotch whisky. While the flavours can often be rich with oodles of dried fruits, it’s worth bearing in mind that pale whiskies such as a classic Ardbeg 10-Year-Old are equally rich. – With a heavy peat aroma and fresh fruits such as apples and pears.

the Takeaway

It’s not my intention of dissuading anyone from purchasing a dark-coloured whisky, far from it. One of my favourite drams is the GlenAllachie 15-Year-Old which has had a secondary maturation in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks. Next time you’re debating whether to go for a dark whisky or a light whisky, I would encourage you to try both and come to your own conclusion.

Want to keep reading? See our article on comparing younger and older whisky!

Cask Investment – Let’s talk numbers!

Cask Investment – Let’s talk numbers!

While we don’t make estimates and predictions on the future value of cask whisky, we’re happy to help advise you based on our own experience.

Whether you are a seasoned investor, a first-time buyer or looking to bottle straight away, we have options for you!

Let’s take Glenrothes for example…

Cask Price Increases

In October 2019, a 40-year-old Glenrothes bottling will be released for the first time. One bottle will set you back £2900. For less than the price of two of these bottles you can acquire an entire cask. One of our sherry butts from 2015 contains well over 700 bottles and costs as little as £5,601.38.

Our Glenrothes Sherry Butts from 2015 are available for £5,601.38, casks from 2012 for £7,823.31, and from 2011 for £8,281.68. This gives a 10.27% annual percent return on a four-year-old cask over four years. With a difference in age of only three months between our 2012 and 2011 casks (distilled in February and November respectively), the increase in value is 5.5%.

Earlier this year, a 1st fill 2006 Glenrothes Sherry Butt sold at auction for £21,000, highlighting the financial potential of mature casks from this distillery as well as its high desirability: read more here!

With in-bond sales exempt from capital gains tax, the potential returns are clearly attractive.


Bottle price increases

Another way of understanding the potential value of our Glenrothes casks is by looking at bottle prices. Don’t confuse distillery expressions bottled at 40% with single cask, cask strength editions; the latter will always fetch higher prices. Please note that the bottle cost in-cask does not include duty or VAT, which is included in the bottle price. As the whisky gets older and the bottle price increases, the price of duty per bottle (approx. £10 per 70cl bottle) stays the same. In fact, duty on a very old bottle with a naturally lower strength will be less than a younger bottle at a higher strength.

A Glenrothes 2015 has an in-cask bottle price of approximately £7.36. When buying a 2012 or 2011 cask, the price-per-bottle in cask is around £10.65 and £11.28 respectively. A single-cask bottling of 8-year-old Glenrothes has an average retail price of £60. For a 2011 sherry butt, the spirit inside has a potential retail value of over £44,000 based on approximately 734 bottles at cask strength. When filled, these casks contain 779 bottles worth of spirit; this amount reduces with age due to the natural evaporation of spirit from the cask known as the ‘angel’s share’.

glenrothes bottle

Let’s fast forward to a 30-year-old Glenrothes. A bottle of this rare liquid would set you back at least £440. Du

e to the angel’s share, we’d expect around 490 bottles to be drawn from the cask, with an on-the-shelf value in excess of £200,000.
The best way to approach buying casks, as with any investment, is to create a balanced portfolio of different ages, different hold times, and different distilleries. We would highly recommend adding any of our Glenrothes sherry butts to an existing portfolio, or as a first foray into casks as an alternative asset!


Understand that these numbers are based on our prices and every cask is different and unique in its own way.
With our expertise and experience, we are more than happy to recommend the perfect cask fitting your requirements, but we still advise everybody to do their own research.

Whisky vs Wine

Whisky vs Wine

Whisky as an appreciating, alternative asset is a relatively recent phenomenon. With the market for such investments growing in parallel with the booming industry.  Between January and October 2019, all markets rose by 5.9% with BIS Blend up by 2.7 % and Single Malts up by 14.4%. According to Pagoda Scotland/Whisky newsletter Dec19/Jan20′ export statistics.

Scotch is the most attractive and reliable alternative asset class in the world. Due to the ever-increasing popularity and global demand, as well as the extremely low risk. When compared to wine or gold.

On the other hand, over 99% of wine consumed and purchased in the United Kingdom is imported. And despite a steady growth in the prices of fine wine, the whisky industry is growing much faster.


Allocations of investment-grade wine are few and far between. And often you have to purchase it as a bundle along with an estate’s 2nd and 3rd wines in order to secure a package. On the other hand, Cask Trade whisky is now a highly accessible alternative asset class. In which investment-grade casks can be obtained by newcomers to the market. And without any obligation to purchase additional non-assets.

Furthermore, asset-worthy wines are often very expensive, with many Bordeaux’s and Burgundy’s costing more than £10,000 per case. For the same amount of money, you’d be able to purchase a fully mature cask of scotch whisky from a highly reputable distillery. And that could yield upwards of 500 bottles. Entry-level casks can cost as little as £1500.

Investors in fine wine are mainly limited to wine enthusiasts who often own cellarfulls of bottles. While whisky is an asset class open to anyone.


Non-deterioration of the asset is a unique security offered by whisky. Unlike wine, whisky can be saved from the ravages of time. A cask may have a lifespan of in excess of 50 years. Which is quite a time frame if buying malt under 8 or 10 years old. Even then, the whisky is only at the beginning of its true destiny; the bottle.

Unlike wine, whisky ceases to age in the bottle. Scotch that was distilled in the 19th century is still being opened and consumed to rapturous applause today. Furthermore, the risk of corking or poor storage is eliminated. Storage is provided in HMRC approved bonded warehouses. These are strictly governed and should offer complete peace of mind. These warehouses offer good rates for storage and insurance of casks. They are the same warehouses used by industry leading distillers. And ensuring the perfect, stable environment for maturation.

Is older whisky “better” than young whisky?

Is older whisky “better” than young whisky?


Many people believe, and often rightly, that older whisky is better than younger whisky.

Indeed, the longer spirit matures in the cask, it becomes softer, smoother and more complex.

Old Whisky

Drawn in and out of the oak through a thin layer of char, the whisky is flavoured by a host of organic compounds within the wood. And impurities are mellowed and filtered out.

There are also specific flavours commonly associated with old casks that simply cannot be found in a younger whisky. These can take the form of leathery, dusty, or ‘old book’ notes. With peated malts, the phenol compounds that give the whisky its distinctive flavour are broken down. A 30 year old Caol Ila will taste completely different to a 5 year old.

As mentioned in our previous article, ‘1st fill vs refill’, first fill casks mature more quickly and impart more flavour from the oak. On the other hand, refill casks will mature more slowly, allowing for more distillery character.

Young Whisky

Despite the rarity, complexity, and smoothness of older whiskies, there are also many compelling reasons to bottle whiskies at younger ages. An extremely active cask can result in a whisky being fully mature after only eight years of maturation. Any longer and the intensity of the flavour may either become too strong. Or else disappear entirely.

If the desired character of a whisky is to be a ‘peat monster’ in the classic Islay style, then a youthful whisky is infinitely preferable. The peat will be much more prominent. Furthermore, the alcohol percentage will be higher, resulting in more power. This is essential with some casks. Often the alcohol is an integral part of the flavour where the sweetness of the spirit and sweetness from the oak are intrinsically connected. With a loss of alcoholic strength, the entire flavour structure of a whisky can often fall apart.

On the other hand, the alcoholic strength can mask more subtle flavours. And the whisky can come across as ‘spirity’ and harsh. The organic flavour molecules are often bound to the alcohol. All that is needed is a couple of drops of water to help break down the chemical bonds. As well as release the full taste potential of a whisky. This trick can also do wonders for the texture and mouthfeel as well.

More youthful flavours include a clear and spirity sweetness, fresh fruits, coconut and banana, and notes of malt from the barley. Many distilleries these days have been experimenting with local and organic barley. Often from one farm, and this can have a distinctive effect on the whisky. These flavours will be much more distinctive at a younger age, and with too long, a maturation will become lost.


Think of flavour in whisky as being something akin to a building. All great whiskies have structure. A combination of flavours and textures working together to create a truly pleasurable sensation that is more than just taste. An old, fine and rare whisky such as a 38-year-old Port Ellen could be likened to Westminster Abbey. However, other old buildings, whilst historically valuable, can be in appalling condition with the structure entirely disintegrated.

We could compare cheap blends and young grain to a 1970’s council estate in Birmingham. But there is no reason that an 8-year-old Bruichladdich Organic Barley can’t be as wonderful and inspiring as the Sydney Opera House.

So, is older whisky “better” than young whisky? There is no wrong or right answer and it completely depends on your flavour preferences.