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Whisky: The 'Alternative Alternative' Investment

Investing in the top 10 performing whiskies from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2012 would have seen returns of 508%, the top 100 - 306%. They call it liquid gold for a reason.

British savers have suffered over the past five years, particularly from the flood of cheap credit from the Bank of England. As a consequence, it is making it difficult to plan for the future, whether that be saving for children's university costs, house purchase or into retirement.

The stock market is returning to the levels we saw before the economic crash in 2008, yet from a glance at the papers, the highs in the equity market are not translating to ISA interest rates.

Solutions and market confidence are not easy to come by. Consumers are willing to hold on to their money for the right opportunity, often for longer periods of time, which is not good for the economy.

If we want to help the economy and create new wealth and jobs, then one good example was announced in last week's Budget. The extension of the capital gains tax holiday for the government's SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) is a measure I welcome.

Any initiative that helps start-ups by balancing the downsize risk is a winner in my eyes. As ever more can be done.

Businesses can only grow if they exist in a favourable environment. People are willing to invest, but they be put off by uncompetitive and unsupportive business conditions.

It must be worth their while to take that risk. Government must make it easier for people to make these decisions and take a chance. Investors will take risk, but only when conditions are attractive.

One of these areas is the alternative investment market. There are great opportunities if you look hard enough.

Look beyond wine, paintings, classic cars and stamps - look for 'the alternative alternatives'.

As someone who has spent 25 years working in the whisky industry, I have seen how this one drink is developing into an attractive asset class of its own.

The Hong Kong auction market has become the world's biggest wine investment market; as the emerging Chinese middle-class pursue and indulge in French burgundy and Bordeaux. Yet, the same pattern is emerging with whisky. A drink with its own unique heritage is becoming a more expensive and lucrative investment opportunity. In 2008 around 2000 bottles were sold in the pioneering UK auction market, this grew to 14,000 bottles in 2012!

Investing in the top 10 performing whiskies from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2012 would have seen returns of 508%, the top 100 - 306%. They call it liquid gold for a reason.

There are opportunities to be sought not only on the auction market. During the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year, The Macallan released 2,012 special edition bottles to mark the occasion. This was not only a great marketing ploy, but a genuine investment opportunity for the future.

The emerging markets of China, Brazil, India and Russia all associate whisky as an aspirational drink and their middle-classes are ready to pay top money for Scotland's unique elixir. Mature markets in Europe, USA, Canada and Japan have embraced the connoisseurship aspect of single malt. These two simple drivers allied to the increasing scarcity of high quality, vintage, aged single malts has led to a dramatic tightening of rare stocks. Putting upward pressure on price as consumers, collectors, connoisseurs and now investors demand the "gold standard & iconic" releases.

Opportunities aren't always obvious, I never thought I'd be able to sell a bottle costing more than £100,000. In 2010 I did. Three times over, with The Dalmore 64-year-old Trinitas. A world first.

ISAs and bonds are of course safe bets when it comes to savings, not to mention tax-free. Yet, if you happen to be looking around for something alternative, do your research, look at the market and speak to a financial adviser. It may not be the hard, shiny, yellow metal you invest in, but a more fluid, dynamic and liquid golden drink from the glens of Scotland!