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Norfolk distillery toasts boom in whisky prices

PUBLISHED: 11:10 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:35 07 March 2019

Andrew Nelstrop of The English Whisky Company, based at St George's Distillery at Roudham, near Thetford, which has seen increased interest fromk investors. Picture: Antony Kelly

Andrew Nelstrop of The English Whisky Company, based at St George's Distillery at Roudham, near Thetford, which has seen increased interest fromk investors. Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2017

A Norfolk distillery is toasting a boom in interest in whiskies that has seen investors flocking to put their money into rare bottles and casks.

Andrew Nelstrop of the English Whisky Company, based at Roudham, near Thetford, which seen increased demand for exclusive single cask bottlings and for casks. Picture: Antony KellyAndrew Nelstrop of the English Whisky Company, based at Roudham, near Thetford, which seen increased demand for exclusive single cask bottlings and for casks. Picture: Antony Kelly

Lifestyle investors who previously bought up artworks, jewels, expensive watches or classic cars are now turning to whisky drawn by big returns and record breaking prices.

Whisky for the first time tops the new Luxury Investment Index 2019 produced by high-end estate agent Knight Frank, replacing art as the top performing ‘investment of passion’.

The English Whisky Company, based at the St George’s Distillery in Roudham, near Thetford, has seen increased demand for exclusive single cask bottlings and for casks to be laid down for up to 20 years.

Managing director Andrew Nelstrop said: “We are seeing a large growth in the demand for casks of maturing whisky. These are normally individuals who want to buy a cask of whisky and lay it down for 10 to 20 years; with a view to either leaving it to children hoping the value will have increased; which current market trends show is a good bet.”

Norfolk-based writer Dominic Roskrow said investment in whisky could offer investors returns well above the rate of inflation. Picture: Antony KellyNorfolk-based writer Dominic Roskrow said investment in whisky could offer investors returns well above the rate of inflation. Picture: Antony Kelly

Over the past decade, values of the top 100 bottles of the world’s most desirable Scotch have increased by almost 600%.

UK auction prices increased by almost 40% last year, while one bottle set a new world record price of £700,000 in October, only to be beaten one month later when another sold for £1 million. Both were bottles of The Macallan distilled in 1926.

Mr Nelstrop added: “Whisky in general has been a great investment because the market place ran short on old and rare whiskies as the Far East took a shine to rare and old whiskies. At some point producers will balance out this disparity but the joy of whisky is the time involved – in order to replenish stocks of 40-year-old whisky – it will take 40 years. So in the meantime values of aged whisky will hopefully continue to climb. Good for us and good for those fortunate to be able to invest in whisky.”

Norfolk-based whisky writer and expert Dom Roskrow, who lives in Morley St Botolph, and whose books include 1001 Whiskies To Try Before You Die, said: “Whisky investment is on two levels by the cask or by the bottle and if you have an exit strategy the marks ups on even standard whisky mean you are going to get a return well above the rate of inflation. We are talking about serious margins.

Bonhams whisky specialist Martin Green with a rare bottle, one of only 12 with a label by the Beatles Sgt Pepper's designer Sir Peter Blake, that sold for �615,000 at auction this week. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA WireBonhams whisky specialist Martin Green with a rare bottle, one of only 12 with a label by the Beatles Sgt Pepper's designer Sir Peter Blake, that sold for �615,000 at auction this week. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

“There are pitfalls though. You need an exit and that is not easy. Like all investments you only want to use money you’ve got and are willing to lose.”

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