Six Different Types of Whisk(e)y a Whisk(e)y Lover Should Know

Six Different Types of Whisk(e)y a Whisk(e)y Lover Should Know

Have you ever faced the issue of not knowing how some of the most common and famous whisk(e)y styles differ from each other? Anyone who calls themself a “Whisk(e)y Lover” should be aware of the wide variety of this world-famous beverage which is now readily available in your local bar or retailer.

The key differences that arise in Whiskies produced worldwide can be attributed to four major factors:

1. The type of grain used.
2. The production process.
3. The location of origin.
4. The maturation period.

Based on the factors mentioned above, Whiskies are divided into numerous types globally. Here, I have compiled for you a list of different whiskies produced on the planet so that the next time you’re looking to make a purchase you’ll know how they differ from one another.

1.     SCOTCH WHISKY

All producers have to follow a very strict set of rules to be able call their spirit Scotch Whisky. Made entirely in Scotland with either malt or grain, the spirit has to be mixed and aged in oak casks of a maximum 700 liters volume for a minimum of more than three years. Only when these Scottish whisky-making laws are followed to precision can a bottle be labeled Scotch, with a generally smoother earthy and smoky flavor profile that differs with regions.

2.     IRISH WHISKEY

Typically distilled three times, Irish whiskey must be made in Ireland by law. Distilled using water and caramel coloring, a yeast-fermented mash of grain or malted cereals is aged in wooden casks for at least three years to make this signature drink. The Irish like to boast that their whiskey has a smoother finishing flavor in comparison to Scotch. This is debatable.

3.     JAPANESE WHISKY

As the name suggests, Japanese whisky is explicitly produced in Japan. Made using double malted or peated barley, the Japanese brewers age the spirit in a wooden cask by a process similar to making Scotch. Japanese whisky comes only as single malts or blends, has a drier and smokier flavor, and is world-famous for its high quality. The first Japanese distiller served an apprenticeship in Scotland and started distilling in Japan in 1923. Japanese & Scotch whisky have many similarities for this reason.

4.     BOURBON WHISKEY

Primarily made from a mash containing at least 51% corn, this distilled American whiskey must be stored in charred oak casks and made entirely in America to qualify as Bourbon. Sweet tasting Bourbon available in American liquor stores does not contain any additives and has a bit of smoky flavor and reddish appearance due to fermentation in charred oak casks.

5.     TENNESSEE WHISKEY

Classified as bourbon under NAFTA, Tennessee whiskey defines a unique whiskey style produced in the Tennessee state of the USA. State law requires all Tennessee whiskey producers to make the beverage in-state and filter it through sugar maple charcoal using the Lincoln County Process before aging. The rest of the distillation process is similar to Bourbon.

6.     RYE WHISKEY

Like bourbon, Rye whiskey is also produced in North America but with a mash of at least 51% rye and is aged for at least two years in charred barrels. Since rye is a type of grass and a member of the wheat family, it imparts a spicy or fruity flavor to the rye whiskey found in any spirits store and is excellent for making whiskey cocktails.

WHISKEY OR WHISKY?

What do you call it? Whiskey or Whisky? Even though this question confuses even the most veteran drinkers, how it is spelled depends on where it was made. Irish traditions dictate using Whiskey with an e, which was carried to the Americans. On the other hand, Scottish distillers prefer using Whisky without an e, followed by the breweries in Japan and all other countries.

Now that you’re aware of all the vast varieties of whiskey and their differences, I’m sure tackling tricky whiskey situations at the local supermarket or having spirited discussions with fellow whiskey lovers will not be a problem.

Author bio:
Andrew Christian works as a store manager in Arrow Liquormart, a famous liquor and wine store in Littleton, Colorado. He loves his combination of nature, wine, and nerdy friends who appreciate his homemade wines.

https://arrowliquors.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ArrowLiquormart/

https://twitter.com/ArrowLiquormart

https://www.instagram.com/arrowliquor/

To find out more about how Whisky Cask Investment can work for you, contact The Masters today!

Fact File on American White Oak Barrels

Fact File on American White Oak Barrels

The use of wooden barrels was first made famous by the Romans, who used oak barrels to transport wine. Barrels of oak has since then been in continuous use due to their many unique properties like high density, strength, toughness, and rot resistance.

Used wooden barrels have been preferred by spirit makers to ferment and age different spirits globally, but American White Oak Barrels are the ones in most demand. Apart from the strength, durability, liquid tightness, and suitability to coopering, essential chemicals such as tyloses, hemicellulose, lignin, vanillin, tannins, lactones, etc., make white oak barrels an ideal choice for ageing spirits.

Considering oak’s profound effects on the taste of various spirits, you need to understand it’s the minor details that make oak barrels the first choice of any brewer on the planet. Their contribution to the texture, aroma, and flavours of the spirits stored inside them are so awe-inspiring that even Google is bored of telling people where to buy wooden barrels.

Whisky barrel

Let me tell you everything you have ever wanted to know about barrels of oak and their use in making premium quality alcoholic beverages.

The spirits stored inside oak barrels experience three broadly classified effects on them:

AS A FILTER – The activated carbon present in charred White Oak Barrels filters out undesirable impurities, making it easier for the stored alcohol to seep into the wood cracks.

AS AN ADDITIVE
– Various sugars, oils, and other chemicals present in oak barrels seep into the spirits, and add to the finished beverage’s texture, flavour, and aroma.

AS AN ENHANCER – The American White Oak Barrel also interacts with the alcohol to impart natural finishing tones by slowly converting chemicals like tannins into acetals and acetic acid into fruity esters.

Moreover, various chemical constituents of the American White Oak Barrel Wood influence maturing spirits in different ways:

HEMICELLULOSE – Consisting of simple sugars that break down when heated, they provide body to the spirits by adding wood sugars for toasty and caramelized aromas, flavours, and color.

LIGNIN – A binding agent that holds the wood cellulose together, they yield vanillin when heated to add sweet, smoky, and spice aroma to the spirits.

TANNINS – Naturally occurring preservative compounds with a slightly puckery astringent taste, they help maturation by enabling oxidation and creating delicate fragrances by forming acetals in the stored spirits.

LACTONES – Resulting from lipids in the American White Aak Barrels, they increase dramatically during toasting or charring and impart a solid woody and coconutty taste profile to the spirit.

CELLULOSE – An essential component of the plant cell wall, it has virtually no effects on spirits stored for under seven years. After six or seven years, it starts breaking down into glucose sugar.

The American White Oak Barrel

Quercus Alba, also known as the American White Oak, dominates the barrel industry thanks to the mandated use of new charred White Oak Barrels for alcohol ageing. Spirits aged in charred American White Oak Barrels mature more quickly than those aged in non-charred or toasted barrels.

The charred layer of the American White Oak Barrel wood also functions as a charcoal filter, absorbing the sulfur compounds and serving as a passage for alcohol through the pores. American White Oak Barrels tend to be stronger in flavour, often described as cherry-cream soda, vanilla, or coconut, and whose oils result in spirits with a slightly thicker, creamy texture.

The American White Oak species also contains more sweetness, more spice, and more tannins. The sugar flavours are typically more stewed or cooked, reminiscent of fig raisin pudding and campfire smores. There’s an additional weight given to the alcohol due to the more prominent presence of toasted sugar.

Lastly and strangely, sometimes American White Oak Barrels can often impart a dill weed smell depending on the toasting level and ageing time. It is hard to believe that either dill or coconut, dramatically different smells, can be the hallmark aroma of White Oak Barrels.

Kegs and beer

Life Cycle of the American White Oak Barrels

Over 600 species of oak are found globally, and the United States alone has over 90 of them. From the forests to the distilleries and your home, the life cycle of White Oak Barrels is a rather fulfilling journey of never-ending usefulness.

The Harvest

Word around the cooperages is that an oak tree needs to be at least 75 years old to be mature enough for making good Oak Barrels. Many other criteria like straight trunks, mature fibers, closed pores, etc., also need to be considered before harvesting. The American White Oak Barrels are made from the high-quality timber of the locally found Quercus Alba species.

The Seasoning

Once the wood has been harvested, coopers start seasoning long pieces of oakwood called staves by air-drying them for a couple of years. Seasoned staves are then toasted to make them pliant and soften the woody flavours.

Barrel Building

Coopers bend the wooden staves to make new Oak Barrels. Rumours suggest that a skilled cooper can assemble an utterly leak-proof barrel in just a few minutes without using any glue or fasteners!

Fermentation & Ageing

Now that the White Oak Barrels are ready, they can be used to ferment or age a wide range of spirits such as wine, whiskey, bourbon, rum, tequila, sherry, and much more. Newly-made charred American White Oak Barrel is mandated to be used as Bourbon Barrels in the United States.

Continuous Re-use

It is well known that used wooden barrels are not thrown away; they are repeatedly refilled with different spirits to impart subtle flavours into the alcohol; the older the Oak Barrel, the more subtle its flavours. Oak Whiskey Barrels are often reused by Scottish whisky distillers to age their premium scotch.

Upcycling Prospects

Once damaged, these old and used wooden barrels can be used in several ways to add unique rustic decor elements to any establishment, even your home. Just cutting wooden barrels in half will give you two beautiful chic planters for your garden.

Now that you know so much about the American White Oak Barrel, I hope it will no longer be a problem to figure out where to buy wooden barrels and whether those used wooden barrels are genuine White Oak Barrels, or not.

Author Bio:
Rachel Moore works as a Marketing Manager at Rocky Mountain Barrel Company. Rocky Mountain Barrel Company provides used wooden barrels for spirits, like bourbon barrels, whiskey barrels, rum barrels, and wine barrels. Rachel Moore loves her combination of nature, wine, and nerdy friends who appreciate her homemade wines.

Social Profiles:

https://www.facebook.com/rockymbc

https://twitter.com/barrelagethat

https://www.instagram.com/rockymountainbarrelco

To find out more about how Whisky Cask Investment can work for you, contact The Masters today!

Oak Casks 101 – Your Essential Guide

Oak Casks 101 – Your Essential Guide

 

Our handy guide is designed to demystify some of the cask type terminologies and to give you the investor a better understanding of the casks used, their sizes and what effects they have on the whisky or rum.

From the most commonly used American White Oak Barrel to the lesser-known European Oak Madeira Drum, we explore the various cask types and how they impact the flavours of the delicious golden nectar within.

The origins of Oak Casks can be traced back to the Romans; these wooden barrels have been used ever since for holding and transporting a whole plethora of different products. The Romans discovered that the White Oak tree was the best material to use because when sawed in a certain way it becomes completely watertight. Then, by either charring or toasting the barrel not only is the wood shaped but the layers of char or burnt wood inside also impart flavour and colour to the spirit. 

Today the majority of whisky and rum is aged in ex American Whiskey Casks which are made from White Oak. One of the key rules for making American Whiskey is it must be aged in new barrels. This law actually stems back to the post Prohibition years when American distillers started opening up legally again in 1933. At the time, the Coopers Union were quite a militant bunch and they struck a deal that only new barrels could be used. This was a license to print money for the coopers because these casks had a shelf life of at least 50+ years, whilst the distillers were only using them for two to eight years on average.

 

Ageing in new casks gave American Whiskey a pronounced spicy and sweet quality and eventually, this became one of the signatures of the US-style and thus one of the required laws. Today, the huge global successes of brands like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam has resulted in millions of these White Oak Casks becoming available on the market. This is why roughly 80+ percent of all Scotch Whisky is aged in these American barrels. 


QUARTER OAK CASK – 50 litres  

As the name suggests this is a quarter of the size of your standard American Barrel. The much smaller size provides a greater surface-to-liquid ratio. The spirit would certainly age quicker in this type of cask but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. There is a school of thought that the larger casks provide a much better outcome. 


AMERICAN STANDARD BARREL – 200 litres

Made from American White Oak, this is the most common type of Barrel used today. The Barrel is known for imparting sweet and spicy vanilla notes into the spirit.

Barrel

WINE BARRIQUE – 225 litres

These are typically used in the Bordeaux region of France but can come from other areas of the wine industry. They’re made from French Oak.

Port Barrique

 HOGSHEAD – 250 litres

Universally known as ‘Hoggies’ these Barrels are essentially reassembled American Standard Barrels which are shipped as flat-packed staves and then rebuilt into the slightly larger Hogsheads. Five American Barrels makes four Hogsheads. The Scots prefer this size of barrel as it allows them to store more whisky efficiently in their warehouses.

Hogshead

COGNAC BARRIQUE – 300 litres 

These are mainly used by the Scotch Whisky Industry to give special finishes to various Malt Whiskies. Larger than their wine industry cousin they are also made from French Oak. 

SHERRY BUTTS – 500 litres

These are the second most common type of casks and are mainly used by the Whisky Industry. They’re known for imparting rich, dry fruity notes into the spirit as well as turning it a red mahogany hue. These casks are highly sought-after and there is a real shortage; mainly due to the fact that very few people drink sherry anymore compared to yesteryear. One of the ways the Scotch Whisky Industry is innovating to get around this problem is by paying the Sherry Bodegas to produce Sherry to season the casks. After the casks are seasoned they are transported to Scotland where they then are used to age the whisky.

What happens to the surplus Sherry you may be wondering? It is usually either sold off cheaply or used in products like vinegar. These casks are made from thick European oak staves and are wider and more elongated than the American Barrels so are easily spotted in any warehouse. Generally, they are ex-Oloroso casks although you will find all different styles of Sherry used. Ex-PX casks are also becoming more commonly used.

Sherry butt

SHERRY PUNCHEON – 500 litres

They’re the same as the Sherry Butts but have a much shorter, squatter shape.

PORT PIPES – 650 litres

Like Sherry casks, they are made from thick European oak staves. Used by the Port Industry these casks are long and slender and the Scotch Whisky Industry uses them to finish their whiskies. They’re certainly becoming a lot more common with the success of various expressions from popular distilleries i.e. Balvenie and Glenmorangie.

MADEIRA DRUMS – 650 litres

These are the same as Port Pipes but have also been seasoned with Madeira. It gives the whisky a different flavour when finished in these casks. Again it is becoming increasingly more fashionable to use Madeira Drums. 

Interestingly enough, there are larger casks out there but the law for Scotch whisky says that the maximum size is 700 litres.

To find out more about how Whisky Cask Investment can work for you, contact The Masters today!

John’s HK Office Tipples – The Balvenie

John’s HK Office Tipples – The Balvenie

John and his dram

The Balvenie bottled by Robert Watson, Imported by Intertrade, 1975/1985 “Overproof”

From time to time John Wong, who’s heading up our newly-opened Hong Kong office as Director of Sales, will share with you whisky lovers about drams he has at the office. We definitely do not promote worktime drinking – except when drinking is part of the job…!

“What? A Balvenie indie bottling?” – This may be the first thought in your mind for our veteran whisky lovers. It is indeed uncommon for you to spot an independent bottling carrying the Balvenie name now. Things were a little bit different back then. This is a 10-year-old Balvenie “direct from the cask” distilled in 1975, bottled at 57.5% ABV. Ironically, this old bottle seems to fit the checkboxes for a modern-day whisky lover. “High strength”, “big name”, “straight from the cask” … Sometimes I do wonder, since when have the drinkers become so fascinated about certain “keywords”, and why?

I honestly think there is no correct answer, but one undeniable fact is the advancement in information technology. This has certainly promoted transparency in the whisky business. Whisky lovers around the world can now easily discuss and share information on almost everything about whisky. From new releases and distillery announcements to ultra geeky debates about production methods, or even insider stories. Transparency is essential to cask trading as well. After all, you would want to know as much as possible about what you are buying, sampling, or even bottling!

So, for the sake of transparency, it’s time to break the sad news. Today the Balvenie cask is like a unicorn – how great would it be, if you could see one yourself, right? Fortunately, that is not the end of the story. There are teaspooned casks available on the market from time to time that are believed to have a considerable amount of Balvenie liquid in it. Also, a rising star in the bottling world, Aldunie, shares some of those Balvenie genes! Aldunie is the teaspooned blended malt from Kininvie Distillery. It is at the same site as Balvenie and Glenfiddich (they all belong to William Grant & Sons). The mashing and malting of Kininvie takes place within Balvenie distillery. The Aldunie liquid carries the classic light and fresh Speyside character. You can often detect notes of honeysuckle, pears, and red apples!

Enough talking, let’s get back to the whisky:

The nose is so vibrant and powerful – even after almost 40 years in glass! The bottle ageing polished the high strength liquid. There is no alcohol attack, instead it is full of pears, stewed apples, and dry hay. With time, it gives pecan pie and dried pineapples. The palate is explosive with candied stem ginger, green apples, and other yellow fruits. With a long and almost everlasting finish! This is the ideal whisky for both veterans and modern-day whisky lovers alike.

To find out more about John and our new Hong Kong office and offerings, get in touch today.

Women in Whisky – Lauren Mustard, William Grant & Sons

Women in Whisky – Lauren Mustard, William Grant & Sons

Lauren Mustard


As we continue on our Women in Whisky journey, this week we spoke to VIP Ambassador Lauren Mustard. With over 12 years in the industry and a background in working for the legendary Spirit of Speyside Festival, we were keen to find out what fills her dram…

Where are you from originally?

Speyside, a small place in the country called Mosstowie.

What is your current role/ title/ company you work for? 

Dufftown Distilleries & VIP Ambassador, William Grant & Sons.

How many years in the industry? How did you get started?

12 years now. I started out as a tour guide at Glenfiddich when I turned 18 and did many summer seasons whilst I was at university. I went on to work at Macallan for a few months before starting the International Brand Ambassador graduate programme with Chivas Brothers, based in London. That took me back to Speyside in 2017 and on to working for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Now I’m back where it all began!

Do you have any female mentors that helped you on the way?

I would say many! Ann Miller in particular.

Have you noticed more women drinking whisky in general (maybe amongst your friends for example)?

Yes I think so. More than when I first started working in whisky!

What is your desert island dram?

Balvenie DoubleWood 17.

What is your favourite whisky under £40 per bottle?

Can I choose Glenfiddich 15? It’s a little over £40 but can be found for under £40 sometimes!

What is your favourite whisky, money no object?

That’s a tricky one… Can we say availability no object too? The Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix would be my choice

Do you gravitate towards whiskies aged in certain casks?

Hmm I thought I did but over the last few years I’ve found myself on a more level playing field when it comes to that. Some whiskies have taken me by surprise – some pleasantly and some not so! 

Looking into your crystal ball where do you see Scotch whisky in 5/10 years?

Continued experimentation and innovation with both whisky and whisky-related experiences. Looking after the advocates we already have and capturing those that are yet to venture into the world of whisky! We are all ambassadors for Scotch whisky and the community is one of the best things about it. I hope that continues to grow and develop. 

Any advice for women wanting to start out and forge a career in Scotch whisky?

Firstly, go for it. Secondly, reach out to others. I’m sure I speak on behalf of many other women in the industry when I say we’d be happy to help where we can and would be delighted to offer advice!

At Cask Trade our female Masters all certainly know their way around a whisky cask. If you want to find out more about adding whisky to your investment portfolio, get in touch and let’s talk whisky!

Casks vs Bottles – An Investor’s Guide by Phil Huckle

Casks vs Bottles – An Investor’s Guide by Phil Huckle

Whilst it is clear that markets are currently very turbulent, even if this was not the case I would still write the same article about Whisky Cask Investment and how this Alternative Asset compares to investing in Whisky Bottles and other Physical Assets.

The private purchase of Whisky Casks is an activity almost as old as the act of distilling the Amber Nectar itself, although the opportunity for Investors to be involved in this market is quite a modern phenomenon. There are many reasons for this, chiefly the increase in the availability of Single Malt Scotch in the 1980s and the continued growth in popularity of whisky as a hobby from the beginning of the 21st century.

It was around this time that a small number of whisky enthusiasts started to collect rare bottles and this market continues to grow to this very day – as evidenced by the increasing number of Whisky Auction Sites and the frequency of their sales. Despite the rarity of collectible bottles it is a relatively simple market to enter through visiting a specialist store, buying through an auction or from a private owner, or through one of the ballots held for rare bottlings on launch day. Buying whisky casks can be a little more difficult – and it is highly advisable that you deal with a reputable company in this sector – but this can offer many advantages to the Investor looking for medium and long-term growth compared to bottles and other alternative assets.

Whisky pouring

Firstly, let us consider Bottle Investment. Given the growing global interest in Single Malt Whisky there remain many shrewd investments to be made and the growth and profitability in this area show no sign of slowing down, but this does not automatically make a collection of rare bottles your best investment. Importantly, the liquid in a bottle does not continue to age and mature, so a 12-year-old bottle of whisky will always be a 12-year-old bottle of whisky and will only increase in value if the supply of said whisky reduces either due to being discontinued or a limited edition bottling. Many investors are also faced with time, financial, and logistical challenges such as associated auction fees, transportation costs, and the necessary storage space. The majority of investors simply don’t have the time or space either in the home or their office to lose a room for their bottle collection and to handle the administration of tracking, packing, and sending bottles – especially when serious collections can easily run to hundreds or even thousands of bottles.

Whisky Casks make for a much simpler investment, with the liquid often purchased at a much younger age and at a much cheaper price than whisky which has fully matured. In some cases, it is even purchased as a new-make spirit! Whisky tends to sell best at the ‘Milestone Ages’ of 12, 15, 18, 21, and 25 years old, and it is wise to factor this into your exit strategy when choosing your investment. A shorter-term investment for example could involve holding a 9-year-old cask until it is 12 or 15 years old, with the whisky maturing in the cask and appreciating in value during this time. I am yet to find a distillery that sells its 18-year-old Single Malt for less than their 12-year-old Single Malt(!) and the same principle applies with casks. The cask itself must be kept in a bonded warehouse in Scotland, meaning the investor does not need to find space to store it themselves.

Casks stacked

I believe it is important at this point to give a quick overview of the global Whisky market. Within Scotch Whisky the two main types sold are Blended Whisky (dominating the market at 80-85% of all Scotch consumed) which comprises many different Malts and (mostly) Grain Whisky. Single Malt Whisky, usually of higher quality and more expensive, accounts for a much smaller but rapidly growing section of the market and is expected to continue increasing its market share. Traditionally strongest in Western European Countries and North America, in recent years it has been shown that as a Whisky market matures their consumers are keen to broaden their pallets beyond famous blends such as Johnnie Walker and Chivas Brothers and explore Single Malt. This is particularly evident in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and, more recently, China.

casks outside

In fact, market trends indicate that in more and more countries consumers are turning not just to Single Malt Whisky but in particular to older, rarer whiskies. This has naturally caused a shortage of old casks as stocks of high-quality Single Malt have depleted, creating an opportunity for investors who will find their older casks will be very much more in demand. Within traditional markets, there has been a surge in the number of whisky enthusiasts who seek out even rarer ‘Single Cask’ Bottlings (usually only a few hundred bottles produced) which in turn has led to a boom in the number of Independent Bottlers meeting this demand with over 1500 of them now operating worldwide. This is before one even considers the future demand in growth markets such as India, where most Indian consumers are priced out of the Scotch Whisky market by extortionate import taxes of around 150%!

The UK Government is in active trade discussions with India to get this tariff reduced as part of a wider Trade Deal and an increase in whisky drinkers amongst a population of 1.4 billion people is an exciting prospect for distilleries and cask investors alike. Indeed, there is a strong argument for taking a position in this market now before the increase in demand is made a reality by a future trade deal.

Although stock markets and property still dominate conventional investment strategies, at a time when the global economy continues to look shaky with continued uncertainty about post-pandemic economic recovery and geopolitical instability, I believe diversifying a percentage of your portfolio into whisky casks which are one of the only assets to appreciate in a linear fashion is a very, very savvy move.

To find out more about how Whisky Cask Investment can work for you, contact The Masters today!

Breaking News: Cask Trade Opens In Asia

Breaking News: Cask Trade Opens In Asia

 

We are delighted to announce Cask Trade Ltd has opened an office in Hong Kong servicing the whole of Asia.

We have seen an increasing demand for cask whisky from the East. Cask Trade are very excited to showcase our unmatched inventory to our existing and new clients in Asia.

For the first time, bottlers, investors and avid whisky enthusiasts in Asia will be able to buy casks at UK prices. The prices are significantly lower than anyone has been used to, and with the same seamless service afforded to hundreds of our UK investors and bottlers.

Director of Cask Trade HK, Sir Colin Hampden-White, says: “For many years I have had the pleasure of helping customers from all over Asia who appreciate cask strength whisky to taste and purchase,” says Hampden-White who is a Keeper of the Quaich, who adds: “I’m very excited Cask Trade is opening an office in Hong Kong. I can personally host tastings and be a part of our customer’s journey in selecting and buying cask whisky.”

Cask Trade Hong Kong Office

Masters of whisky appreciation
Managing Director of Cask Trade, Simon Aron, says the opportunity for growth in Asia is unprecedented. We have seen a 25% increase of our existing business in Asia already. We expect to see further increase of a minimum of 25% in sales for the entire business. This is achieved by having a physical presence in the region.
“By opening in Hong Kong, we are addressing a demand from existing and potential customers throughout Asia. We’re offering direct access to casks for whatever purpose, at competitive UK prices with complete transparency and a seamless service.” Says Aron, who adds: “Our company is all about an authentic marketplace for buying and selling casks of whisky. We have multiple exit strategies, including our online auction for casks. Auctionyourcask.com. We want to supply all bottlers, investors and of course, whisky lovers! I think the Asian market will be both surprised and delighted with our competitive prices.”

The new office based in the Admiralty District of Hong Kong will be headed up by John Wong.

John is a self-confessed whisky geek. He says, whilst the whisky scene is relatively new in the region, the level of expertise, passion and enthusiasm’s remarkable.

Drinkers from Greater China and Asia-Pacific are always seeking a diverse range of taste and flavour profiles in whisky. They look for rarity and investment opportunities with stories behind the liquid. With me on the ground in Hong Kong, I can immerse myself into the whisky community. There is nothing better than meeting face to face with a dram in your hand.” Says Wong, who explains the demand isn’t just coming from Hong Kong. “The East Asian market is unique. Our highly skilled and educated customers like to discuss whisky and learn from each other. It’s so much more than just buying and selling. We are embarking on a journey together.”

John Wong, Sales Director for HK

Whisky investment done properly

We are proud to own one of the largest and varied stock lists anywhere in the world. Our team sample, taste, health check every cask and only sell stock that we own. We hold all our own insurances and licenses and are not affiliated to any third party. Cask Trade HK enjoys all of the relevant licenses direct with the UK. This includes all of the UK HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs) licenses required to trade, store and bottle whisky (WOWGR, AWRS and Duty Representative).

With our new business in Hong Kong we are looking to build a reputation as the go-to cask company in Asia. The aim is to mirror what we have achieved in the UK.

Whisky on the rise in Asia
According to the Euromonitor report, by 2022 the value of whisky sales in China is expected to reach £2.2 billion (approx). This is 38.6% more than in 2018 and the volume of whisky sales is to reach 23.65 billion litres.

Direct exports increased from around £1.4 million in 2000 to around £89 million in 2019. This resulted in reaching an annual growth rate of over 24% (CAGR 2000-2019). Around 25 bottles of Scotch whisky are exported to China every minute.

We encourage our Asian customers to follow us on WeChat. Stay up-to-date with our Hong Kong acitivities.

Water of Life, by the Water – Josh’s Whisky Wanderings

Water of Life, by the Water – Josh’s Whisky Wanderings

 

Josh exploring Scottish distilleries

I’m not sure Hemingway ever actually said ‘Write Drunk, Edit Sober’, but I must confess most of my (strictly amateur) fiction writing has been its strongest when inspired by a strong dram. I think it was inevitable that when I organised my first ‘Writing Week’ in 2017 (now an annual event) that the words would flow as the whisky flowed – and that I’d save rereading anything back until armed with a coffee the next morning.

My first trip grew out of a desire to see if I could write a book, rather than just loudly proclaiming after a few whiskies that I wanted to write a book. I wanted to find somewhere completely separate to my daily life in South-East England, but still somewhere I could speak the language, with a nice writing desk with a view of some water, and ideally a host sympathetic to me enjoying a cigar or two whilst typing away. Needless to say, there weren’t many places that offered it all!

Views from the Air B&B

Sometimes, though, the stories of our lives have a funny way of writing themselves, and so it was that I found the B&B in Aberdour, Fife, that would become my annual base, hosted by Celia who quickly became a lifelong friend. I started each day with a walk around the water, had a large breakfast, and usually lit my first cigar around 9:30 am. I’d write solidly throughout, working the same hours on my passion project that I worked on my career back in London, pausing occasionally to appreciate the crashing of the waves or to see if the weather was allowing me to see Edinburgh across the water (30 minutes by train) or restricting my vision to the end of the garden – usually both several times each day.

Johnnie Walker

I’d start pouring Whisky straight after lunch and usually wrote most in the afternoons – a dram at 2 pm, another at 6 pm, and a double after dinner, was usually my rule. My first year I bought a bottle of Glen Scotia Double Wood and used it to complete the first draft of my first novella, in 2018 a bottle of Johnnie Walker 18 helped me write a small collection of short stories, and in 2019 I wrote my second novella with a bottle of Dalmore Cigar Malt. I switched the Whisky up a bit in 2020 (writing the first four episodes of my first Sitcom) and 2021 (back to short stories) and took an array of miniatures and sample bottles filled with different drams for each day.

Perhaps reflective of my good fortune to move into the Whisky Industry in my Professional Life this last trip certainly featured the most impressive liquid.  From my case of miniatures the highlight was undoubtedly a Sherried Springbank from 1992 (my birth year!) – a very kind gift from Sir Colin Hampden-White, which I paired with a special cigar gifted to me by Simon. It seemed fitting as Springbank is his favourite distillery!

Josh's trip staples

Usually on these trips I scarcely look up from my writing desk, but with Celia selling up and retiring I knew this would be my last time in Aberdour and added on a couple of days to try to explore a little more of Scotland. On the Friday I ventured into Edinburgh and very quickly broke my ‘no new Whisky bottles until after moving house’ rule (I blame Cadenheads…) so felt it was safer to dive into Sandy Bells and start buying by the Dram again. I was blown away by a Single Cask Aberfeldy but the real star of the show was the Port Charlotte Valinch which I can still taste now and frankly haven’t shut up about since!

On the Saturday I visited my friend Colin Campbell, who took me to my first Whisky show some years ago and who ultimately is responsible for turning my interest in Whisky into a fully-fledged lifelong passion. Colin and I haven’t seen each other since he moved back to Scotland last year so there was much catching up to do, and naturally a visit to Deanston Distillery was essential! We had an incredible time in the Warehouse 4 Tasting Experience, and my favourite Whisky was actually the first one we tried – a 2013 Refill Bourbon Barrel. It was lovely to find this often overlooked Cask Type being allowed to sing and really let the character of the distillery shine through.

Deanston Distillery

Once again I broke my ‘no more bottles’ rule in the gift shop (oops), although I suppose now everybody knows my enthusiasm for the Deanston Barrels on our stocklist is coming from first-hand experience! Colin and I later made a list of all the distilleries we want to visit in Scotland (basically, a list of all the distilleries in Scotland and a few we’re going to try to save by inventing time-travel) and once I was back to Aberdour and savouring my last view of the water I thought not only of all the time I’ve enjoyed North of the Boarder, but of how many visits I no doubt still have to come.

I don’t think I can ever really say goodbye to Aberdour or to Scotland, rather I repeat myself (as I’m prone to doing) ‘That’s me away the noo…’

Enjoying a dram

To find out more about investing in Whisky Casks and to speak to the Masters themselves, contact the Team today!

Women In Whisky – Dawn Davies, The Whisky Exchange

Women In Whisky – Dawn Davies, The Whisky Exchange

Dawn Davies

With over two decades working in the drinks industry under her belt, Dawn Davies certainly knows her alcohol and the way around a whisky cask. The Head Buyer at The Whisky Exchange, Master of Wine and all-around drinks guru sits down with us to talk about a subject close to her heart…

Where are you from originally?

The UK, although I grew up in the States.

 Current role / title / company you work for?

Head Buyer for Speciality Drinks/ The Whisky Exchange

 How many years in the industry / how did you get started?

 20 years and counting. I started out in restaurants as a waitress and a sommelier, working for Zuma, Gordon Ramsay, The Square, and the Ledbury. This was before joining Selfridges as their head wine and spirits buyer. Nine years later, I joined Speciality Drinks.

 Did you have any female mentors that helped you along the way? 
Absolutely – the first person who gave me a chance with wine was Nobuko Okamura. She took me under her wing and taught me so much.  Since that time, I have been fortunate enough to know so many inspiring women who have had faith in me. From Angela Hartnett to Helena Hell and many more.

 Have you noticed more women drinking whisky in recent years?

 Yes, I see it most at Whisky Show where the demographic is slowly changing and becoming more female which is fantastic to see!

 Your desert island dram? 

 Can it be a rum 😉 Clairin Sajous!

 Your favourite whisky at under £40 per bottle?

I am loving everything coming out of Loch Lomond at the moment, just for easy drinking fruitiness. 

 Favourite money no object whisky? 

Half of the whiskies in Sukhinders collection 😉

 Best distillery trip you’ve ever been on and why? 

I was lucky enough to go on the malts advocate trip with Diageo years ago with Dave Broom. He has very much been my whisky guru and has graciously, over the years, answered all my stupid questions. Traveling with him round all the distilleries was amazing.  The highlight however had to be fresh oysters from the bay drizzled with Talisker 10 at the distillery itself.

 If there is one thing you could change in the industry what would that be? 

More diversity in top roles in the industry. We are changing but far too slowly…

 What have been the major challenges in your career and what advice would you give to any young women starting out? 
This industry can and will take over your life. I have had to work insanely hard to get to where I am today, but I have been very lucky to have fallen on my feet career-wise. Work hard and be yourself.  Don’t be afraid to be strong and speak your mind. You will have to work harder and be more aggressive than your male counterparts at times but there are plenty of amazing women and men who will have your back.

Looking into your crystal ball where do you see the Scotch whisky industry in five to 10 years’ time? 

The Scotch Whisky industry is going to face some stiff competition from all these new whiskies from all over the world. It cannot rest on its laurels, it must talk to younger consumers but not dumb down its liquid.

At Cask Trade our female Masters all certainly know their way around a whisky cask. If you want to find out more about adding whisky to your investment portfolio, get in touch and let’s talk whisky!

Irish Grain Whiskey – The Emerald Isles’ Secret Gem

Irish Grain Whiskey – The Emerald Isles’ Secret Gem

Irish Grain Whiskey is generally great quality and delicious. Why then is such a fantastic spirit managing to slip underneath the radar? Certainly Irish whiskey is undergoing a renaissance right now. Very soon the number of distilleries will rise from 13 to 35. In 1987, there were only four when the Cooley distillery opened its doors for the first time. The interest in Irish Pot Still and Blended whiskey is reaching stratospheric proportions. Quite rightly winning plaudits left right and centre. Partly thanks to our American cousins, who cant drink enough of the Irish liquid gold. There is a real shortage in aged stock. This is being reflected in rapidly rising prices.

For Grain whiskey, yes some brands have come on to the market. If you look around you’ll find a very small handful of expressions from Teeling, Kilbeggan & Midleton. However all the whiskey is quite young and clearly only small quantities have been released. Cooley for example did release a 15yr & 18yr under their Greenore brand. (And it actually won a lot of awards). Although it was soon discontinued as only 5,000 and 4,000 bottles were available. Why is so little of this whiskey available? Is it any good? As an investor why should I get excited about this? Well we’re going to laydown why Irish Grain Whiskey could be a very savvy investment and addition to any portfolio.

Cooley Grain and Single Malt Samples

Irish Grain Whiskey is of course a very important component of any Irish Blended Whiskey. Until recently most of it was made by the Midleton distillery down in Cork for their very successful Jameson brand. Very little grain whiskey was aged anything more than a few years. Recently the demand for Jameson and other Irish blends has skyrocketed. Jameson alone has gone from 500,000 cases to 7.5m in just 25 years! What has also caught Irish distillers by surprise is the increasing demand for blended whiskey. They are desperately short of both older Malt & Grain casks. With all these shortages it means that very little Grain Whiskey has ever been released. 

Is there even a market for Irish Grain Whiskey? The simple answer is absolutely, especially if you have older aged casks. At the moment you can only find younger expressions on the market. This is because most of the older casks are being tipped into blends. Recently we acquired some Cooley 2009 & 2010 Grain Whiskey casks and these are a great investment. Right now it tastes amazing so imagine how its is going to be in 10 years! These casks are certainly undervalued because there is very little older Irish grain whiskey lying in warehouses anywhere. Secondly it was distilled by Cooley. Their award winning Greenore 15yr & 18yr expressions prove how fantastic the whiskey is. Thirdly the age of the whiskey is 11 & 12 years old respectively. It is already at those magic numbers which are very appealing to consumers and thus Independent Bottlers.

This investment could be kept for a short while until it was 15 years old. Or, wait until it was either 18 or 21 years. This is when the value should’ve accelerated upwards even further. Our suggestion for your exit strategy is to put these casks up for auction with our ‘Auction Your Cask’ facility (with a reserve of-course). And see where the value goes. You could be very very pleasantly surprised.  

To find out more about Irish Whiskey Investment, contact The Masters today!