Whole Cask From Distillery To Be Sold In Auction First

A notable feature of cask whisky investment is that whole casks are seldom acquired by means such as auction. Usually, sales take place of individual bottles or collections of them instead.

However, a particularly special exception to that rule is approaching in October, when, for the first time, an entire cask from the Glendronach distillery in Aberdeenshire will go under the hammer, representing 630 bottles. The sale will take place at Aguttes Auction House and is expected to command a combined price of between £256,000 and £340,000.

What is so significant is that the distillery has gone so long without ever having a whole cask auctioned in this way. It dates back to 1926, just three years after the legalisation of the Scotch whisky industry through the 1823 Excise Act.

The whisky itself is not that old, but has aged for 30 years and has been given the title ‘the one and only’, which may make it sound like a one-hit wonder on the manner of Chesney Hawkes. And a one-hit-wonder it is indeed, for the cask was created as a special edition designed to mature in time for the bicentenary of the Excise Act.

Wine and spirits specialist at Aguttes Pierre-Luc Nourry said: “Glendronach is one of the five most sought-after brands at auction worldwide. In this instance, this 30-year-old whisky characteristic of the distillery’s expertise offers high investment potential.”

While that potential may indeed be high, the problem is it requires a large amount of money to invest in the full cask at this stage, while anyone buying the individual bottles will find their value is relatively diminished as the presence of 630 of them means they won’t be so scarce.

This is why investing in cask whisky at an early stage can be so effective. The value of a whisky builds up over time and if yours is one of those that ends up commanding a high price, the benefits are clear from the kind of prices quoted in sales like this one.

Based at Forge by Huntly, the Glendronach Distillery was founded by James Allardice, who renamed the existing building of Boynsmill Glen House. It was operating for just four years before it was taken over by Walter Scott (not the novelist!) and by the 1860s it was the biggest distillery in the Highlands, with over 50 people living on the site.

The distillery went through another change of ownership when Glenfiddich Distillery founder Captain Charles Grant took over in 1920, before William Teacher & Sons bought it in 1960 and expanded production.

However, the history of the distillery looked to be coming to an end when it was mothballed by the next owners, Allied Distillers, in 1996, only to be revived in 2002 before the Chivas Brothers bought it over in 2005.

A final takeover occurred in 2008 when BenRiach took charge, and it was under this ownership that Glendronach was named the Global Whisky Distiller of the Year.Through all these changes the distillery has had its distinctive dark malts maturing in casks, even during the six-year hiatus in production. The result is not just one cask going to auction, but a grand tradition that exemplifies the value of combining heritage and quality.