Drinking versus investing
Like wine, drinking and appreciating whisky is one thing, but investing in it is another. Some investors found this out the hard way recently with the Nant fiasco (the distillery went into receivership in the first quarter of 2017 and the ownership of its stash of whisky barrels is currently being disputed by various parties). According to media reports, Australian Whisky Holdings (AWH) uncovered – during its due diligence in the process of purchasing Nant – serious anomalies including barrels in the inventory that were empty and discrepancies in the alcoholic volume with some other barrels.
There are some who think that what happened to Nant investors – who purchased barrels and were expecting a 9.5% per annum return in four years, upon the whisky’s maturation – could have a negative impact on the future of the Tasmanian industry. But – even in the wake of the Nant debacle – there are still many investors who are keen to pour their money into Tasmanian whisky.
Apart from purchasing directly from the distilleries, investors can also buy into companies such as AWH or purchase Tasmanian whisky at auction. AWH, a publicly listed company, was established to gain direct equity participation in selected branded distilleries and to partner in developing export markets. It holds a 48% stake in Lark Distilling, for example.
One of the inherent problems of buying Tasmanian whisky at auction is the lack of a track record for an industry with just a few decades of history. As aged whisky is highly prized by investors, it is much more common to see Scottish whiskies on the auction block than their Tasmanian counterparts.
Premium Tasmanian whiskies and ryes come at a price – Sullivans Cove Special Cask (A$750, US$572), French Oak (A$450, US$344) and Belgrave Oak Whisky (A$250, US$191). And there are more affordable whiskies – Belgrave Black Rye (A$52, US$40) and Hellyers Road Single Malt Original (A$76, US$58).
Should an investment in Tasmanian whisky fail, at least you can enjoy drinking your purchases and thinking about what could have been