A Brief Guide On How To Start A Whisky Collection

Health Warning: This article may seriously affect your hip-pocket nerve
Wealth Warning: This article will not be given any specific investment advice.

In The Beginning…

There was an itch. You scratch it once, it kind of goes away and then it slowly returns. This is repeated again, and again and again.

And then that horrid and yet exhilarating feeling overcomes you…you’ve got the bug.

The Whisky collectors bug.

The condition generally manifests itself in the patient become zealous, obsessive and dangerously, being prone to advance levels of boring your immediate family and friends to death. Or, becoming a complete reclusive, fretting over your prized collection.

First Steps…

Now that we have the mandatory health and wealth warnings out of the way, starting a whisky collection is a fabulous way of indulging in a passion that can be shared locally or even globally. And it all starts with something you like.

Along the way, you’ll need to keep an open mind, read heaps and listen to those that know. Then you’ll need to learn how to taste, assess and discriminate. Then do some more tastings, then more and more and more and…

And at all times: keep an open mind.

So Where Do I Start?

Most new collectors start simply by purchasing two bottles of their favourite drams. One to consume and one to put away. And then you spot a special in a shop, once again, one for you and one for the shelf.

And then you get a recommendation, “this malt is the bee’s knees…” One for the collection and I’d better try it, so one for me.

And repeat.

And your off.

The Need for Whisky Knowledge…

Another great starting point for the new collector, is for you to find a good bottle shop and with the aim of cultivating a warm and mutually beneficial relationship with the retailer. They can guide you, teach you, inform you and not surprisingly, sell to you.

They can also tell you what’s good, what’s not and what’s special. And just maybe, invite you to whisky related tasting and functions.

And of course, you should also find a decent spirits bar with knowledgeable bar-staff, as they are also, an invaluable source of gaining good information with the added advantage that you can also taste. But be warned, that hip pocket nerve could start twinging again.

Why Collect?

Only Time Will Tell…

Collecting has a number of benefits. But you need to patient.

The first is that what you might think of as expensive now will be really expensive or hard to find in a number of years. So, in the future you will have some cheap, but splendid whisky to consume that you’ve already paid for!

The other side of the coin, is the one based on the simple economic principal that things and stuff change over time. What you put away today may not be available in a number of years’ time. And if you’re really lucky, it could be that fellow collectors are paying big dollars for it. So, you might end up with a gold mine.

Distillery marketing execs are notorious for constantly fiddling around with labels, brands and styles. So, once again, what you have in your collection today, may no longer be available tomorrow. And let’s not forget that nostalgia for things of the past has a great effect on pricing, as I keep hearing all the time, “they made malts so much better in the past”

Where To Buy?

Simply put: buy from people you can trust. Be it a retailer, on-line site, an auction house or from a private buyer.

And if you are going to get into ancient bottlings: do your homework. Fakes and shonks do exist.

What To Buy?

That’s really up to you and what interest you and what you want to do with your collection.

A good and well-rounded collection would include…

  • Good quality commercial offerings
  • Well-aged bottlings
  • Special editions
  • Older bottlings
  • Rare bottlings
  • Closed distillery bottlings
  • Weird and wonderful bottlings

And Finally…

The Three Most Important Considerations

Store your collection out of sight, in a cool, dark space, standing upright (that’s the conventional method, but that’s open to argument), keep them in pristine condition AND keep all the packaging that goes with the bottle.


Insure your collection and keep your insurer updated on an annual basis.


Get you collection valued on a regular basis. Good for your insurer and good for you, as you see the changes in the collections value.

And who can provide that valuation service?

Me of course!

25 years of experience.