30-year-old Macallan Whisky Cask Set to Sell at Auction for Over $500,000

Owning a cask of whisky was formerly the climax of many whisky connoisseurs’ collecting journeys.

However, as the market grows and collectors expand their horizons, more people are accepting whisky casks into their collections, even if they are still in the early stages of collecting.

Old casks, particularly from famous distilleries, are exceedingly uncommon, but a superb “all-rounder” example – a 30-year-old Macallan 1991 whisky cask – will be auctioned on August 20 in Hong Kong by Bonhams Fine and Rare Whisky.

The cask was re-racked with sherry in 2017 after being distilled by Macallan in December 1991. Sherry is the ideal wood for giving the whisky a distinct flavour profile of clove, resin, dried fruit, and tannin – a sweet palate that most consumers will enjoy.

Its high alcohol level, about 51.5 per cent ABV, makes it a great choice for long-term collecting as well as for producing around 202 bottles for enjoyment.

The cask is valued at HK$3,200,000-4,000,000 (A$558,465 – $698,082), translating to a reasonable per-bottle price of around HK$14,800 ($2,582).

This is below the global auction record for a whisky cask, which is presently held by Bonhams. On November 15 2019, a rare 30-year whisky sherry hogshead cask from Macallan Distillery sold for HK$4,464,000 (A$779,061) at Bonhams Fine and Rare Wine and Whisky sale.

While investing in bottles of rare whisky is a well-known diversification tactic, casks are a burgeoning class.

Despite the worldwide economic ramifications of the ongoing pandemic, the BC20 Whisky Cask Index showed solid average annual growth of 13.09 per cent in mid-2020, continuing on a steady upward trend during the first half of 2020.

The index, that collates the projected values of a representative sample of twenty casks, showed that not a single distillery saw negative growth over the last five years.

If an investor had invested US$100,000 in July 2018 into casks, S&P 500, Bitcoin and gold, the projected value of their portfolio would be highest if they had invested in casks, followed by gold, Bitcoin and lastly the S&P 500 index, according to the report.

The report from Braeburn Whisky, a whisky cask investment specialist, said ex-sherry casks are more valuable than ex-bourbon casks carrying similar-aged whisky, and aged grain whisky looks to be an undervalued item.

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