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  1. #1
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    barrel investing

    Does anyone know of a distillery that still sells barrels to investors for aging an dthen does the bottling when requested by the investor? It was once common with the scotch distilleries.
    Robert L. Lewis
    212-721-1015
    fax 212-721-7259


  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: barrel investing

    This type of thing was pretty common in Kentucky immediately after Prohibition, but is rare today. When it is offered, it is more as a status gimmick than as a true investment. If you're in a position to actually market and distribute a bourbon brand, you can probably get a distillery to contract distill it for you, or even sell you some existing stock, but the type of deal you are contemplating, where one buys "bourbon futures" as an investment is not available any more, to the best of my knowledge.

    As an example of what is available, I just received some info from Jack Daniel's about purchasing a barrel, for which you will receive 225 to 240 bottles, the empty barrel, custom decals, a brass plaque and a framed "certificate of ownership." Like I said, a gimmick, but a fairly cool one for a bar or someone with 200+ bourbon-drinking friends.

    - chuck


  3. #3
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    Re: barrel investing

    Chuck,
    I saw the question about investing in a barrel of whiskey. It just so happens that I am trying to come up with a way that people can buy a barrel of aged whiskey. I'm talking 10-years and older. Perhaps $1,200.00 per barrel. So that you will get about 5 cases (60/750ml bottles), and have your own label designed. That's only $20.00/bottle. What do you think?
    Julian


  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: barrel investing

    Julian,

    I think it's great, especially for someone with a lot of business gifts to give, as just one example. Also very cool for bars. I know Blanton's has done it, even to the point of letting the customer come to the warehouse in Frankfort to taste a couple different barrels and choose one. For personal consumption I don't know. That's a lot of whiskey, unless you're selling or giving some of it away.

    All of the deals I'm familiar with involve buying an already mature barrel, although Bushmills did offer its Millennium deal a few years back, for delivery next year (I think). None of these arrangements is really an investment in futures in any sense, where I buy a barrel when the whiskey goes into it and then sell it at the going rate when it's mature, which is what the original questioner is asking.

    Still, I think with your track record, I would trust you to pick a barrel of bourbon for me before a lot of other people. $20/bottle for 10+ year old bourbon is potentially a good deal. On the other hand, I can buy 12-year old Heaven Hill whiskey (Elijah Craig brand) for less than $20 at retail, one bottle at a time.

    Obviously, this question wasn't just directed to me. What do others think?

    - chuck


  5. #5
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    Re: barrel investing

    I agree, I think it's a great idea, and I'd certainly trust Julian to pick a good barrel. 60 bottles is a lot of whiskey, but I'm already thinking of at least 10 friends that would be interested, especially with a label reading something like "My Own Damned Whiskey, bottled for me, not available in any stores, 10 years old, and fine as silk."
    Keep working on it, Julian!

    Lew Bryson
    Hirsch Reserve 16 YO: Real Pennsylvania Bourbon

  6. #6
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    Vanity Bottling (was Re: barrel investing)

    Chuck,

    I'm a member of a single malt discussion group who decided they wanted to buy a cask. The Springbank distillery in Campbeltown, the Arran distillery in Lochranza and the Glenora distillery in Nova Scotia are some that I know of which deal in barrel futures so to speak.

    Much more common is the "vanity bottling" where the distillery or a broker will sell a number of bottles up to and including an entire cask to a group (usually an institution like a bank) bottle it and label it in any (BATF-legal) manner they choose.

    This is also very common in whisk(e)y shops like Sam's Wine Warehouse in Chicago. In the past they have had special bottlings done in this manner and currently have an excellent 10YO SBB called Old Commonwealth on the shelves. Binny's has also recently jumped on the VB bandwagon.

    This is what we have done with a 32YO Springbank. One of the things to bear in mind when doing this sort of thing, is that it's not about saving money on a few bottles of whisk(e)y. You could get together a group and make a bulk purchase from a retailer and come out better ahead if this is your desire. No, this is about the uniqueness of a special bottling. One caveat though, be prepared to have a little patience.

    As Lew said, it's about knowing that there is no other whiskey like it available anywhere. That's why they're known as vanity bottlings. If the knowledge of having a completely unique and exclusive bottling appeals and the price of admission is not too dear, then go for it. I would personally plunk down the cash for a few if there were enough takers. You can have a lot of fun with the label design and freak out a few of your guests when you pour the "house bourbon" for them. Gift giving is another obvious plus.

    Cheers,
    Bushido


  7. #7
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    Vanity bottling

    I just had an interesting thought. I wonder how slim our chances would be to convince the Seagrams folks to sell off a barrel as a vanity bottling of the 100% pure rye whiskey produced at their Lawrenceburg Indiana distillery ? Probably a snowball's chance, but I thought I'd just throw it out for discussion.

    Cheers,
    Bushido


  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Vanity Bottling (was Re: barrel investing)

    More than a few of today's actual brands started out as something like vanity bottlings. Rebel Yell was created in the 40s by Louisville Mayor Charlie Farnsley, whose Uncle Alex was one of the owners of Stitzel-Weller back when Julian Van Winkle's grandfather was principal owner and president. Charlie got Alex to make it up originally as a gift for Charlie to give to friends and political associates. Booker's was created originally by Jim Beam Brands as a Christmas gift for key distributors, suppliers and other business associates, who liked it so well they convinced JBBCo. to make it a brand for sale. Back even further, Wild Turkey began when a whiskey distributor took some 8 year old, 101 proof whiskey to a turkey shoot with business friends, who liked it so well he decided to start selling it.

    - chuck


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by jvanwinkle
    Chuck,
    I saw the question about investing in a barrel of whiskey. It just so happens that I am trying to come up with a way that people can buy a barrel of aged whiskey. I'm talking 10-years and older. Perhaps $1,200.00 per barrel. So that you will get about 5 cases (60/750ml bottles), and have your own label designed. That's only $20.00/bottle. What do you think?
    Julian
    Just for kicks, I've decided to look back over some early posts. Can't help but wonder if Julian would still sell us any 10yo+ whiskey at $1,200 a barrel.
    Tim

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNbourbon
    Just for kicks, I've decided to look back over some early posts. Can't help but wonder if Julian would still sell us any 10yo+ whiskey at $1,200 a barrel.
    Ask Randy.

 

 

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