Whiskey is big business. We all know that at this stage. Be it buying bottles to drink, to keep or to eventually flip, sales have soared since the last recession. With the surge in sales, a surge in distilleries followed. We went from 3 to 31 in 10 years or so (If you want the most up to date, comprehensive distillery map, head over to Stories and Sips where my pal Barry Chandler has put one together). While the vast majority of these distilleries are a few years off from releasing their own whiskey, they are selling casks of new make spirit which will, after three years, become whiskey. Buying a cask is a great way for distilleries to build up some cash to keep things ticking over while their spirit age….after all, whiskey production isn’t exactly cheap when you take a minimum aging of three years into account! Personally, I love cask ownership. Especially when shared with friends. It gives you something to visit or try each year as it matures. It provides an investment opportunity if you leave it long enough and, if you really want, it gives you something that you can leave sleep away for your kids to enjoy in years to come. My main problem with cask sales is price.
We have all seen the prices of casks from some distilleries which are nothing short of massive. And yes, it does give you the ability to buy into a distillery and create a connection with them early on. But, is it really worth all that money? We also see some investment companies which appear to be quoting outrageous returns on investment in casks. This I instantly steer away from and I would implore people to do their research before going with any third party.
So that leaves the question….where would one go to purchase a cask? West Cork have a very affordable Co-Op that is very promising. Several distilleries offer casks but as mentioned above, they can be very expensive and when you factor in the duty and bottling at the end, a cost that is not always mentioned, it can become overwhelming. What we really need is reasonably priced casks and complete transparency. Enter Celtic Whiskey Shop.
Celtic’s cask programme is launching today and boy does it excite me. 5 different spirits types. The option of re casking in the future. A complete breakdown of costs from distillation to bottling. Very reasonably priced. Spirit from a tried and tested source (Great Northern have some fantastic new make and, as we have seen with the fantastic Bill Phil release from WD O Connell, their peated malt is beautiful). Finally, they offer the ability to keep your bottles in bond and only pay for them as you want them!!! For me, this was a no brainer. I’m grabbing a cask myself and jumping onboard with a few friends for more.
All the details of the cask offer is below but if you’re interested, do your own research too. Have a look at various options and see what suits your own circumstances. I’d be surprised if you found better than Celtic’s offer.
Ireland’s leading whiskey experts, Celtic Whiskey, are delighted to launch Celtic Whiskey Cask Sales through the Celtic Whiskey Shop’s online store; www.celticwhiskeyshop.com/whiskey-casks/. An online platform whereby people can now buy casks of new make spirit, distilled in the Great Northern Distillery, Dundalk, Co Louth. There are five different spirit types to choose from including; Triple Distilled Single Pot Still, Double Distilled Single Malt, Triple Distilled Single Malt, Triple Distilled Heavily Peated Single Malt and Single Grain.
Celtic Whiskey has been buying casks of whiskey from different Irish distilleries dating back over a decade. Their initial adventures were buying casks from Cooley distillery and finishing them in wine casks supplied by a number of the wineries that Celtic Whiskey import from. This is how their own, award-winning, brand of whiskey, Celtic Cask, was born in 2012. Since then they have released twenty nine Celtic Casks, one Dingle Celt and a Celtic Whiskey Shop anniversary bottling. In recent years, they have purchased casks from nearly all of the new distilleries in Ireland and these are slowly maturing for future single cask or small batch releases.
Owner Ally Alpine, founder of the Celtic Whiskey brand said “In recent years, a number of distilleries and investment companies have been offering customers the opportunity to buy their own casks. At Celtic Whiskey this is something that we have always wanted to do but decided to wait until we had an offering that matches our commitment to quality, customer service and value.”
The recent release, Celtic Cask Fiche A Cuig, from Celtic Whiskey is a heavily peated single malt from Great Northern Distillery. This whiskey was matured in a small (55 litre) sherry cask which was designed to speed up maturation. After three years, the whiskey experts at Celtic were astounded by the quality and thought it merited being a Celtic Cask. “Before tasting, we had no intention of bottling this expression until it was 10+ years-old, but it was received exceptionally well by consumers & critics alike” says Alpine.
What this release highlighted was the quality of whiskey being produced by Great Northern Distillery. Ally Alpine arranged a visit with the Head Distiller at Great Northern and tasted through samples of their new make and young maturing spirits. Again, the great quality was there, across the whole range. In particular, their Single Pot Still whiskey which will be a very exciting addition whenever they decide to release, especially the sherry matured stock.
Therefore, Celtic Whiskey have established a relationship with Great Northern to offer their new make spirit, (It can’t be called Irish Whiskey until it’s 3 years-old) beginning its life in a first fill bourbon cask at the following prices:
Cask prices – New Make- OPENING OFFER
Single Grain 200 litre first fill bourbon cask 68.5% vol €985.00
Double Distilled Single Malt 200 litre first fill bourbon cask 63% vol €1195.00
Triple Distilled Single Malt 200 litre first fill bourbon cask 63% vol €1195.00
Triple Distilled Heavily Peated 200 litre first fill bourbon cask 63% vol €1795.00
Single Pot Still 200 litre first fill bourbon cask 63% vol €1795.00
Every cask bought will be transferred to Stafford’s Bonded in County Wexford to mature. The annual storage fee would be €95 which would include a yearly 20cl sample so that buyers can track the progress of their purchase. (A surcharge would be added for posting the sample outside of Ireland but this would be at cost price).
Every year, or as wine casks become available, Celtic Whiskey will do an offer where the cask owner can buy an alternative wine or spirit cask to transfer their ageing whiskey into. The cost of transferring the spirit/whiskey to a different cask is currently €30 (this price may increase due to inflation) plus the cost of the new cask. Casks can also be insured for €25 per year which would cover fire and theft.
The price of a new fill cask is relatively affordable compared to some other cask selling rates. Celtic Whiskey’s approach allows the buyer to follow the journey of his/her individual cask. Opportunities will also arise to mature his/her spirit/whiskey in their preferred cask type to get the finished product one desires.
To get an idea of the overall cost per bottle by the time of bottling we have a few examples below;
The costs that will make up the investment are; initial cask outlay, storage & insurance, bottling & dry goods, duty & vat.
Total cost for a 10 year-old single grain aged full term in initial cask
Initial cask investment is €985.00
Storage, yearly sample & insurance for 10 years is €1200
Disgorgement, bottling, dry goods is €1745
Total cost €3930.00
Approx 390 bottles at 40%, would work out at €10.07 ex-vat, ex-duty per bottle.
At today’s duty rate of €42.57 LPA you would pay duty of €11.92 per bottle. A further €5.06 vat at today’s rate of 23% would also need to be paid.
Final price would be €27.05 per bottle inc-vat
Total cost for a 15 year-old triple distilled single malt finished in a dessert wine cask
Initial cask investment is €1195
Storage, yearly sample & insurance for 15 years is €1800
Dessert Wine cask & transfer is €300 (estimate)
Disgorgement, bottling, dry goods is €1232
Total cost €4527.00
Approx 272 bottles at 46%, would work out at €16.64 ex-vat, ex-duty per bottle.
At today’s duty rate of €42.57 LPA you would pay duty of €13.70 per bottle. A further €6.97 vat at today’s rate of 23% would also need to be paid.
Final price would be €37.31 per bottle
Total cost for a 20 year-old single pot still finished in a sherry cask
Initial cask investment is €1795
Storage, yearly sample & insurance for 20 years is €2400
Sherry cask & transfer is €600
Disgorgement, bottling, dry goods is €1069
Total cost €5864.00
Approx 188 bottles at 52%, would work out at €31.19 ex-vat, ex-duty per bottle.
At today’s duty rate of €42.57 LPA you would pay duty of €15.50 per bottle. A further €10.74 vat at today’s rate of 23% would also need to be paid.
Final price would be €57.43 per bottle
If customers didn’t want to pay the full duty/vat bill in one go, then Celtic could store the bottled goods under bond and single casks could be removed one at a time. Storage costs would be similar to the cask storage.
Celtic Whiskey Cask Sales opens an opportunity for everyone, not just whiskey aficionados. It offers the possibility of a gifting a cask to someone, to be matured for 10+ years or an alternative option to those with a current lack of interest in bank savings.