Liquid gold

Scotch, the hot new investment

Parker is devastated that the world is running out of scotch. (Photo by Dawn Gibson/ SAIT Polytechnic)

Parker is devastated that the world is running out of scotch. (Photo by Dawn Gibson/ SAIT Polytechnic)

The number of people who drink single malt Scotch whisky has risen dramatically over the past decade, and it has been driving prices up.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotland’s whisky exportation increased more than 150 per cent between 2004 and 2014.

Due to the amount of time it takes to age scotch, which is legally a minimum of three years —but often much longer— supply is falling behind the demand for more whisky.

Evan Eckersley, one of the Kensington Wine Market’s resident scotch experts, said that peoples’ attitudes towards the drink are also contributing to its cost.

“Obviously, the low Canadian dollar is making things more expensive, but a lot of it also has to do with the popularity as well.”

Many Canadians are willing to pay extra for a bottle of single malt scotch because they consider drinking scotch a hobby as much as anything. This, according to Eckersley, is also contributing to the drink’s soaring price.

Despite the struggling economy, whisky is considered a safe investment.

Unfortunately, Alberta’s liquor laws restrict the private sale or auction of alcohol, but it is now possible to put money into offshore whisky investment funds such as the Hong Kong-based Platinum Whisky Investment.

Kyle Heller-Bueckert, a graduate of SAIT’s emergency medical responder program and employee at Pratts Fine Wines and Spirits, thinks that whisky investment is a fun and lucrative idea.

“If people can turn a profit, then why not? I think it’s better than the people who collect Beanie Babies. People will always be interested in consuming alcohol.”

Today, a prospective drinker or investor could expect to find a 12-year-old bottle of single malt Scotch whisky for as low as $50, with 30-year-old single malt scotches averaging somewhere between $500 and $1,000.

In auction, some older whiskies have been known to sell for tens, and very occasionally, hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you’re still thinking about actually drinking some of these liquid assets though, things aren’t quite so simple.

Scotch, much like wine, can vary greatly between distilleries and even vintages.

“I couldn’t recommend a specific distillery to a new drinker,” said Eckersley. “The best thing to do is to come to a tasting. We hold them all the time here [at the Kensington Wine Market].”

According to Heller-Bueckert, “Tastings are fun. It’s like adult Pokémon. You have to collect all the flavours and experience them.

“It’s all about finding what makes each drink unique and interesting. And they are all unique and interesting.”

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