Legacy Collection III — Adventures with Whisky.

Two exciting new editions to the WIV legacy collection

Christmas is here!
It is time for our Christmas drop! I am as excited by this as I hope you are. Christmas is a very special time of year as a wine geek, it is a great excuse to go out and buy all the interesting wines you have been putting off buying earlier in the year. Perhaps a time to get a few special treats for yourself and your loved ones as well. An aged Napa Cab perhaps, or a Barolo that has reached its peak? Of course, this also means it's time for our investors to dig into the WIV Christmas stocking and see what we have sourced for you this week. As is customary when you unwrap your gifts on Christmas morning, there are one or two surprises in our stocking as well.

A wee dram for warming up in the winter

Embedded in this collection is something extra special for you all. Two extraordinary whisky’s from the Glenfarclas distillery based in Speyside, Scotland. These whiskies have been carefully selected for their specific traits so that you lucky investors get to add them to your portfolios and benefit from them. So today we will be looking particularly at the Glenfarclas distillery and taking a look at what makes excellent, rare whisky such a good investment.

The river Spey

First things first, what is Whisky? And in particular Scotch whisky?

Whisky is made from fermented grain mash, which is sort of like an alcoholic porridge. (Is this selling it to you)? That is then later distilled and matured in oak casks for a number of years until it emerges, caterpillar-like, from its cocoon, transformed into something beautiful. A whisky, (or whiskey if you are Irish).
The process is fascinating, and the differences in the process from region to region, and country to country account for a huge degree of the overall flavour and regional distinctions. Here is a quick run-down of how whisky is made, and how Glenfarclas does it differently.

  • Scotch tends to be made from a blend of grains with a usual 10–20% of malted barley making up the blend. Glenfarclas however uses only 100% malted barley in their whisky.
  • The grains are then cooked to convert the starch into fermentable sugars. In Scotland, the cooking is typically done over peat which gives it its signature smoky flavour. The variations in the cooking of the grains account to some degree for the depth of that smoky flavour in the whisky. An Islay whisky tends to be very smoky, whereas Glenfarclas is much softer and gentler. Choosing instead to focus on the flavours the barrels impart.
The distinct colour is from its being cooked.
  • The grains are then fermented with water and yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol. Remember that alcoholic porridge I mentioned earlier. This is it. Not very appetising just yet, though it does smell unusually comforting.
  • This alcoholic mixture is then strained and the liquid is distilled numerous times, increasing the concentration of alcohol in the liquid to much higher levels.
The whisky is traditionally Distilled in large copper stills
  • The next step is where the whisky gains most of its colour and flavour. It is left to mature in oak barrels of varying character. Some distilleries will use whisky barrels, some might use sherry barrels. The barrels that Glenfarclas use is Oloroso sherry casks from a family-run sherry bodega in Spain. Imparting on the whisky a beautiful dried fruit flavour, with notes of cognac, nuts, marzipan, and burnt chocolate.
    There are many other barrels besides that have been used in whisky production as well. Port, Bourbon, Bordeaux red wine to name a few. In Scotland, the minimum legal requirement for maturing a whisky in the barrel is three years. Though many whiskies are matured for much longer and are passed through a range of barrels to increase the flavour complexity.
  • The last step is bottling which is where the master distiller will designate whether whiskeys are a single malt or a blend. The difference is that single malt is made from one complete batch of whisky, whereas a blend is made from multiple batches and vintages.
    Once the whisky is in the bottle, it does not mature any longer and can age indefinitely.

As you can see, the process of whisky making is a huge time and money investment on the behalf of the distiller and accounts for a large degree of its cost and prestige.

So what is it about whisky that makes it a good investment? And how does this compare to wine investment?

There are a few key differences and similarities to note here.

  • Wine ages inside the bottle and has a natural life all of its own. There are predicted bell curve graphs of a wines growth in flavour and complexity. The wine will peak at a certain point and then slowly lose its quality afterwards. Whisky has no such problem. Due to the incredibly high alcohol percentage of whisky, the liquor inside the bottle is essentially a preserve. It is no longer alive or changing. And so a whisky, from the moment it is bottled will be the same flavour more or less for its entire life span. This consistency is both a pro and a con vs wine. It means that the whisky will not gain or lose value because of its quality over time. Instead, its main indicators for growth in terms of value will be scarcity and desirability.
  • Most fine wines tend to come from regions with distinct and unique methods of winemaking and wine styles. The same can be said of whisky generally, but it is more prominently obvious in Scotland where there are a total of 5 regions defined as having particularly unique styles of scotch whisky. These are Campbeltown, Highlands, Speyside, Islay, and Lowland. These different styles create an element of desirability for certain fashionable flavour profiles that drive demand for whiskies for one or multiple different regions.
  • The maturation of the whisky pre-bottling, much like wine maturation, will have a big impact on the eventual cost. Both drinks when aged in oak will also lose a share of the liquid to evaporation. The so-called angels share - because it seemingly disappears invisibly. Furthermore, a longer time in the barrel for a whisky will really add a lot more complexity to the flavour profile, especially if it is put in different styles of barrels over its lifespan in maturation. This increased complexity again will drive desirability as well as the angels share making the whisky more scarce.
  • Which leads me to scarcity. Both wine and whisky exist in a spectrum between mass-produced and artisanal small batches. Both can go anywhere from millions of litres produced and sold, to only a few thousand bottles per vintage, and of course, this will have a massive effect on its investment credentials. A naturally more scarce wine or whisky, over time, will become much rarer more quickly increasing its desirability and uniqueness. The added bonus with a whisky is that once it is in the bottle, as previously mentioned, it does not age. And so a whisky can be kept for much longer than most wines, perhaps even for entire generations. This dramatically increases the chances of an already rare whisky becoming increasingly scarce as other bottles are lost, smashed or drunk.
  • Both Whisky and wine are assets with real-world utility. Namely to be drunk, enjoyed, and appreciated. This use case means that the market for whisky and wine will always be affected by the desire for individuals to acquire more unique, more exquisite tastes and culinary experiences.

It is clear then that whisky, much like wine has some intrinsic elements to its existence that make it an excellent investment vehicle. It is pristine, it is desirable, it is collectable, it is enjoyable, and it is a scarce asset. All things that over time contribute to the slowly increasing value of your whisky investments.

Happy Christmas

So when you decide to pick up these fantastic investment opportunities this Christmas in our Legacy Collection-III.
Link here:
Wiv Legacy Collection marketplace.
You can do so safe in the knowledge that the whiskey we have selected has been carefully vetted to make sure they retain all of these various elements that make them valuable and desirable.

Happy Christmas!

P.S.

If you enjoyed this article, we have many more! Including an article about Champagne that will be incredibly useful considering there are some excellent Champagne vintages in our Christmas drop as well. You can find a link to that article here.
Dom Pérignon 2006

We also have articles about all our previous legacy collections which you can find here.
Legacy Collection-I :California
Legacy Collection-II :Burgundy

Enjoy!