When Whisky investments Go Bad
25-08-2017 By Nokulunga Msibi

Investing in whisky is lucrative. It is also great way to diversify your investments and a chance to own one of the world's rare whiskies, to boast to your friends. But what happens when your investment goes wrong?

A Chinese guest in Switzerland walked into a bar on 29 July 2017 at St Moritz and ordered a glass of Macallan 1878 vintage. He paid $10 000 for it. Weeks later, that Macallan he paid handsomely for, was deemed a fake. When Nant distillery opened in 2008 and offered investors, about 900 whisky lovers, the opportunity of owning barrels of whisky to be bought back by Nant distillery. This was a way of raising capital for Nant Distillery and a handsome investment for whisky lovers. Tasmanian police are investigating a case for fraud at Nant distilleries after investors complained about alleged fraudulent activity regarding their investment.

Who is to blame when whisky investments go wrong? In the case of Nant, if the guilty is found to be the distillery, that is at least clear. Fake whiskies produce a different case. In the 2004, Macallan released a statement confirming that some bottles in their antique collection were fakes. This was months after the bottles raised suspicion from acclaimed whisky writer Dave Broom.

The problem with fake whiskies is that they come from reputable dealers and auction houses. Nobody has reason to suspect that a whisky from a reputable auction house or could be a fake. Even experts get duped. The Macallan collection was, after investigation on labels, including carbon dating the liquid inside the bottles, was found to be riddled with forgeries.

What is surprising is that a decade later, the incident at Devil’s Place bar at the Hotel Waldhaus - one of the world's leading whisky bars, whisky lovers and experts alike, can still be duped by these fake whiskies. Caution is to be exercised when investing in whisky.