Thinking about starting your own whisky Collection? Claive Vidiz, the original owner of the World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky, housed here at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, started his whisky gathering journey after being given a gift of six single malts in 1971.
Christmas could be the perfect time to start a whisky collection of your own, as Santa (or a very generous loved one) might just bring you that bottle you’ve had your eye on all year. In this blog post, we hear from Scotch Whisky Experience Visitor Experience Manager Jim Allan, who has been collecting Scotch whisky for most of his life.
“A question visitors would often ask me when conducting tours at the Scotch Whisky Experience and seeing the Clive Vidiz collection is, why would someone collect whisky?
As someone who has a modest collection of their own, the response I normally give is “Why not?!”
People collect items for various reasons, whether it be stamps, watches or coins; so why not collect whisky? There are many reasons why someone may start collecting whisky, and indeed it can be as simple as buying more bottles than you open, before developing a more structured approach.
Whisky collecting can be as easy as gathering bottles of whisky from distilleries visited over years; you could hone your collection via regional or closed distilleries, or be very specific in only being from one distillery with variations in age, finish, labels or packaging.
My first memory of buying a bottle and keeping it is when I visited the gift Shop at Glen Garioch Distillery in Old Meldrum and left with a 21 year old single Malt, a bottle that I still have today.
It was many years later in 1993 when I bought my first bottle of the whisky that I still collect to this day, Rosebank, in the Lowland whisky region.
Rosebank Distillery was closed in May 1993 (with new plans released earlier this year to reopen it), and as with many closed distilleries such as Port Ellen, Glenugie and Kinclaith it has become rarer and thus more in demand. However, as a Falkirk bairn, it seems only right that I should have some!
Rosebank as a Lowland whisky was well respected, and many enthusiasts still miss it: it’s thus no surprise that bottles distilled in its heyday are much sought after. Rosebank bottlings are often included in the annual Diageo Special Releases, a series that in itself is seen to be collectable for the unusual and rare whiskies bottled every year.
Distillers now, whether by design or fate, produce whiskies that many enthusiasts collect, be it the delightful Dalmores by Whyte & Mackay Master Blender Richard Paterson, the glorious Glenlivets from Alan Winchester, or the bountiful Balvenies from William Grant Master Blender David Stewart – there will always be a whisky that attracts a dedicated following.
The choice of whiskies and distilleries from which to collect is huge and it comes down to personal choice. In my case, it’s whiskies that I drink or have a connection with (albeit sometime very tenuous!).
I enjoy collecting Rosebank, Bruichladdich, closed distilleries and Dr Bill Lumsden’s Glenmorangie private and travel retail releases, but the ones that give me the most enjoyment are the Feis Ile bottlings from Islay. As one of the key whisky festivals to attend each year, attracting thousands of visitors from across the world to this remote little westerly island is a great opportunity for Islay’s numerous distilleries to release special bottlings which coincide with this exciting event. And for the visitors themselves? Visiting 8 distilleries in 7 days: its hard but sometimes there are certainly benefits.
It can be easy to criticise whisky collectors – after all, whisky is there to be enjoyed – but I like to think of my collecting bottles as simply being long-term caretaking before opening. Yes, whisky is intended for drinking, and ultimately that is what should or will happen to most whisky sitting in people’s collections. Just think, where do many specialist whisky bars such as the Dornach Castle Hotel or even Kaleidoscope at the S.M.W.S source their old and rare bottles? You just never know what you might be lucky enough to try because of someone’s careful guardianship over the years!”
The Scotch Whisky Experience shop stocks a number of rare or limited edition release bottlings that you won’t find in the airport or on the supermarket shelves. Have a browse of our online shop, or follow us on Twitter for more information on what’s new in stock.