How to Start a Whisky Collection

Perhaps you’ve been inspired by the Shelby family on Peaky Blinders, who seemingly guzzle whisky by the bucketload, or you’ve always been a whisky fan and fancy turning your favourite tipple into a pastime? Whatever your motivation, starting a whisky collection is a serious undertaking, so we thought we’d provide a few tips to help.

Why start a whisky collection?

The good news is that if you like whisky, now is a great time for drinkers and investors. There are more bottles available than ever before, with diverse offerings from whisky makers around the world. Prices are also on the up, so there’s no better time to buy a bottle you love.

Understanding the basics

Before you start buying your bottles, it’s good to understand the basics. In Scotland alone, there are currently over 120 whisky distilleries, each with its own unique taste. Add to that the bottles from other key producers, such as Ireland, Japan and America, and there’s plenty to familiarise yourself with.

A good starting point is to learn about the different stages of whisky production: malting, milling, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. All of these processes have an impact on the individual character of the whisky, including its colour, smell and taste. Once you understand this relationship, you can really start to build on your knowledge base.

This video is an excellent starting point:

And here you can build on that foundation of knowledge:

Where do you start?

A common way to get into whisky collecting is to develop a taste for a particular brand and then start exploring other bottles within that brand. Other starting points for a collection can be to collect bottles from your birth year or to get one bottle from every current distillery or closed distillery.

However you choose to start your whisky collection, here are a few pointers to guide you:

Always do your research

You can get a lot of value by researching your whisky ahead of time. Articles, forums, magazines and message boards can provide you with excellent background information. Ultimately though, you can only get a feel for the whisky you love by getting out there and trying it. When trying a whisky for the first time, sample bottles that are typically 30ml or 50ml are a great way to try lots of different whiskies without investing in a 750ml or 1.5litre bottle every time.

Age isn’t everything

When buying your bottles, bear in mind that just because a whisky is old, it doesn’t necessarily make it good. There are some fantastic young whiskies out there that are less than 10 years old that are still highly collectable but are likely to be cheaper than their older counterparts. When buying younger bottles, rare or limited batches will provide the best return in the long run.

Set a budget

Like any new hobby, it can be easy to get carried away and collecting whisky can get very expensive very quickly, particularly when you can buy online 24 hours a day. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to establish a budget to keep your spending in check.

Enjoy it!

So there you have it, a few tips to help your budding whisky collection grow. And if you don’t like whisky, worry not. There are plenty of other drinks with thriving collectors’ markets, such as Cognac, gin, and of course, wine.

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