The Four Stages of Cask Ownership: #1 Cask Selection

The Four Stages of Cask Ownership: 

#1 Cask Selection

You are thinking about buying a cask of whisky – how does that work? Don’t you need a warehouse to store it? What is the best way to discover your cask? Who will look after this precious cargo?

Cask buying used to be out of reach of private individuals – it was something engaged in by distillers, blenders and whisky traders. But now the world of private cask ownership is opening up, giving people the chance to choose their own casks of Scotch Whisky and have a say in how long they mature, what kind of cask they mature in and what the bottles will look like when they’re done. The dream of your very own whisky is in grasping distance!

This is the first in a series of blogs that will cover the four tenets of the entire Cask 88 journey from cask to glass: selection, purchase, storage and enjoyment.

Today we look at Cask Selection – choosing the right cask for you. Each cask is unique and each cask has its own story. It is important to match the right owner to the right cask.

The First Step

The first step, really, is to get in touch! 

Once you have let us know about your interest a member of our team will give you a call to say hello and to go over some initial questions. In short, we will explore 3 key areas with you: your budget, your preferences, and your objectives. We have plenty of information available online but, all told, we prefer the personal touch of direct communication.

(You can have a look at who makes up our team here or you can keep up to date with Cask 88’s activities over on Instagram)

    

Harry, Carl, Adam and Stuart – each of them a font of specialised whisky knowledge.

The Pace of Whisky

One of the defining characteristics of whisky is that it does everything slowly – and this gives you time to think about what you really want to do. You don’t need to have every detail worked out when you select your cask of whisky – it’s not in a hurry, and you shouldn’t be either.

There are things you can change, and things you can’t. When you look for a cask with us, be sure that you’re happy with its initial parameters. The distillery where the whisky was initially produced is an indelible feature of its character, so make sure you choose a distillery you like. If the whisky is peated, there is no way to remove that powerful flavour later. The O.L.A. or R.L.A. will tell you how much alcohol was in the cask initially, and this can only ever decrease over time.

Other features of the whisky are more under your control, and you can decide on at your leisure. The whisky will happily keep maturing until you’re ready to sell or bottle it, which could be several decades in the future if you so choose. Changing the style of the whisky is also possible with a change of cask – so the way your whisky tastes when you buy it is definitely something you can influence (unless it’s already peated. You’re not getting rid of that reek!) You don’t need to have all this planned out when you first buy the cask. Let us know when you’re good and ready. You can learn a lot more about what cask types are available HERE.

 

Balancing Factors

Whatever your reason for buying a cask of whisky it is really important to us that we help you find the perfect dram – choosing the right distillery is one of those big decisions. Luckily, there’s lots to choose from. To date, we’ve featured casks from over half of all Scotland’s 130+ distilleries, and we’re still looking to increase that number; all of the wood types and maturity levels; discussing provenance and reputation; and of course discussing your own whisky tastes.

We strive to provide you with a cask that pleases you on all counts – a good combination of distillery provenance, age, and cask type. And if it comes from a distillery that has sentimental value to you as well, all the better!

Long-Term Plans

The Ardmore Laphroaig Cask – a signature bottling for the Singapore-based boutique; M&E Drinks. These bottles are exclusive to them, something they always wanted for their customers.

There are many reasons to buy a cask of Scotch Whisky. For some it’s a family matter; they buy casks that mature in-step with their own children. Then one day in the future, both the casks and their family will have fully developed – and they can enjoy a dram together! Our client Mr Gao had this in mind, as is detailed in his interview with Sam (click here).

Other clients are already involved in the world of whisky and buying a cask is the logical next step. For example, fellow client and friend of Cask 88 is Amy Seton, businesswoman and owner of the Birmingham Whisky Club. The Club wanted to celebrate a birthday with their own bottling of whisky. So, Rachel contacted Cask 88 and together we searched until we found the perfect cask of whisky to celebrate The Birmingham Whisky Club (now known as ‘Grain & Glass’). If you would like to read Amy’s full interview you can click here.

Of course another benefit of owning a cask of Scotch is that they grow in value over time and can be a wonderful way to store wealth, as various data collectors and annual reports have found – including our own annual report. If you would like more details on that please get in touch. There’s nothing nicer than placing your money and your trust in a product that you personally love.

An Induction To Our World

Though we are passionate experts on Scotch we also know that the prestige and the niche vocabulary can be overwhelming. If you would like a shorter, more stream-lined glossary of important terms to know before buying a cask then then click here. With this glossary in hand you should be well up-to-speed for your first big chat with one of our Sales Team.

During that conversation we will try to bring you up to speed with what is feasible in terms of brands, price points and timelines. We will always do as much as possible to make sure that you have access to all of the same information as we do. We’ll keep you up to speed while we sort out all of the admin.

If the exact cask you’re after isn’t currently in our stocks, never fear. You don’t need to make your decision immediately. Let us know you’re willing to wait for a particular type of cask, and we’ll let you know when something that matches your criteria becomes available. 

The whisky will wait in the cask, slowly maturing and getting better and better. No rush!

Looking To The Future

Even at the initial stage we will discuss how long you plan to own the cask for and begin proposing suitable options based around that projection. Whisky is all about time: it has a long heritage; currently the amber nectar is being made all over Scotland, but it isn’t until the future that we enjoy the rewards of today. Whisky takes at least three years in oak to mature but casks are often left 10, 20, 30, 40 plus years to sleep in warehouses. We can talk you through that timeline and make predictions with your needs in mind. Furthermore…

At Cask 88 we like to keep in touch. We will check on the cask and check in with you to talk about how things are progressing and if we would recommend any changes. The conversation would of course go two ways, with Cask 88 ready to listen to any changes and desires you may have for your cask. And you can discuss with us the changes that you can make – arrange for a sample to be taken from your cask, or even a visit to the warehouse if you’re feeling bold. You can start to think about options for re-racking: that is, transferring your whisky into a new cask if you wish to grant it new flavours. Slowly, you can set the foundations for the grand day when the whisky is revealed to the world – your very own contribution to Scotland’s proud whisky culture.

Get in Touch

Overall we want to make the process of cask selection as easy as possible for you while sharing our enthusiasm for Scotland’s historic and national drink. The first step of every journey is the most important.

If you would like any more information on this subject you can get in touch over email (sales@cask88.com), over the phone (+44 131 202 1028), or if you are feeling very modern you can even send us a DM over on Instagram (@88cask). 

Join us here next time for a blog on the purchasing process and how that works.

 

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