2024 Whisky Cask Investment Guide: Investing in Whisky Casks Made Simpler

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Sagamore Spirit’s Quest to Reclaim Maryland’s Whiskey Crown

In Baltimore’s Port Covington, Sagamore Spirit distillery rejuvenates a historic American spirit. Established in 2017 by Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour, Sagamore swiftly ascends as a beacon of innovation and tradition.

This 5-acre waterfront sanctuary champions the resurgence of Maryland Rye Whiskey, once overshadowed by Kentucky bourbons. Sagamore Spirit’s ethos revolves around rekindling the legacy of Maryland rye, turning back the pages of time to its golden era.

Maryland’s Rye Heritage

Before Kentucky bourbon took center stage, Maryland crafted a distinctive rye whiskey. Known for its full-bodied yet balanced profile, Maryland rye blended rye, corn, and malted barley, yielding a robust yet harmonious spirit. Prohibition’s onset led to distillery closures and Maryland rye’s decline. Sagamore Spirit now pioneers the bridging of past and present, resurrecting Maryland’s storied distilling heritage.

Sagamore Spirit: A Visionary Revival

Emerging from Baltimore’s shores, Sagamore embodies Maryland’s whiskey heritage, striving to restore Maryland Rye Whiskey’s glory. It’s not just a distillery; it’s a movement reviving forgotten traditions with modern twists. Sagamore’s commitment positions it as a trailblazer, crafting a legacy as rich as the rye whiskey it produces.

Award-Winning Craftsmanship

Sagamore’s journey is marked by prestigious accolades, with over 200 awards on national and international stages. Notably, it was recognized as “World’s Best Rye Whiskey” in 2019 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. These affirm Sagamore’s dedication to excellence and innovation in whiskey making.

Signature Offerings and Experimental Pursuits

Sagamore’s offerings, like American Rye Malt Whiskey and Triple Smoked American Single Malt Whiskey, blend traditional techniques with bold experimentation. Their Sherry Finish Rye Whiskey illustrates Sagamore’s commitment to pushing boundaries. Contract distilling further fosters creativity within the industry.

Expanding Horizons: The New Production Facility

Sagamore’s new production facility in Tennessee signifies its commitment to growth and innovation. The state-of-the-art facility increases production capacity while serving as a hub for experimentation, ensuring consistency and quality.

A Destination for Whiskey Lovers

Sagamore has become a must-visit destination, offering immersive experiences beyond tastings. Guided tours explore whiskey production intricacies, while events like Whiskey on the Waterfront foster a vibrant community space.

Sagamore Spirit’s Impact on the Whiskey World

Sagamore has championed the revival of Maryland Rye Whiskey while pushing whiskey innovation boundaries. Through its award-winning products, Sagamore enriches Maryland’s distilling heritage and contributes to the broader whiskey narrative.

Investing in Liquid Gold

Sagamore offers whiskey barrel investment opportunities, allowing patrons to own a piece of the distillery’s future. This venture diversifies investment portfolios and deepens the bond between the distillery and its supporters.

Conclusion: Sagamore Spirit’s Legacy and Future

Sagamore Spirit embodies Maryland’s whiskey tradition’s resilience and innovation, positioning itself for a promising future. Its journey reflects a broader narrative of revival and innovation in the whiskey industry, promising exciting developments for whiskey lovers worldwide.

Top 10 Bourbons to Brighten Your Holidays: A Spirited Gift Guide

Bourbon lovers are easily one of the best people to shop for during the holidays. Sure, it’s often hard to find unicorn bottles like Pappy, Blanton’s or Weller 12, but there are so many other options out there that are solid pours AND available at your local liquor store.

No bourbon connoisseur I know is going to turn down any bottle. If it’s not one of their favorites to sip neat, they’ll just use it for cocktails like Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and the common cold cure Hot Toddies.

I realize the whiskey aisle can be daunting with hundreds of options barking at you to take them home, so here are 10 bottles you can’t go wrong with. I’m hoping most of these are available across the country, but I’m writing from the bourbon epicenter of Kentucky, so these prices reflect what they are here.

1. Four Roses Small Batch Select — $49.99, 104 Proof

You really can’t go wrong with any Four Roses product, but the best one that is readily available is the Small Batch Select. It’s at the sweet spot on proof (104) and is non-chill filtered, so all the fatty acid goodness is still swirling around in the bourbon, making for a more tasty and viscous sip, in my opinion.

2. Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Bottled-In-Bond — $49.99, 100 Proof

This one might be a little harder to find, but it’s starting to show up on shelves here and there. Bardstown Bourbon Company launched its Origin Series this year, and there are three different bottles that will have this moniker on them (for now … more are probably coming). This Bottled-in-Bond release is a solid wheated bourbon that is well over 4 years old. It’s actually more like 6. The other two in the series are a standard rye bourbon and a rye whiskey. Both are really good choices as well.

3. Old Forester 100 — $22.99, 100 Proof

If you come to Louisville for a visit, you’ll notice Old Forester is everywhere. It’s what the townies drink because it’s absolutely delicious and super affordable, too! This is my go-to bottle if I want a stiff pour after work or a nice cocktail — because it does the job for both occasions. There is an 86 proof version of the standard Old Fo, but I would skip that one and opt for the orange label 100 proof, as seen here. It’s much more tasty and flavorful than the 86.

4. Green River Bourbon — $31.99, 90 Proof

I also love the price point of Green River, and just like Old Forester, it’s great to sip on its own or to add to a cocktail. The bottle design and heft makes it seem like a premium product, so if you pick this up for a friend, they might think you went all out. That’s OK, let them believe that, because the whiskey inside won’t disappoint. Green River also makes a wheated bourbon that is equally tasty.

5. Baker’s Single Barrel Bourbon — $56.99, 107 Proof

Baker’s is one of my favorite brands from Jim Beam, which is now rebranded as the James B. Beam Distilling Co. You really can’t go wrong with a 7-year-old single barrel at the magical 107 proof, and Baker’s will hit you up front with spice, but then calm your palate with warm fruit, toffee and toasted marshmallow notes. I sip on this one mostly, but if I’m in the mood for a stout Old Fashioned, I’ll crack it open and mix it.

6. Sagamore Spirit Rye Double Oak — $64.99, 96.6 Proof

If the whiskey lover on your list leans toward rye whiskey, you’ve gotta pick up this Sagamore Spirit bottle for him or her. They take fully mature Sagamore rye whiskey and move it into a second oak barrel for extra aging. That second barrel adds so many beautiful and tasty notes like rich caramel and vanilla, which play nicely with the spice of the rye. This is a sipper.

7. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye — $69.99, 131.4 Proof

In the last few years, Jack Daniel’s has been putting out some amazing whiskey in the form of single barrels, limited releases and barrel strength offerings. Don’t pass on these bottles, because they’re truly delicious. Case in point: This Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye, which was allocated when it first came out a few years ago but should be available in stores now across the country. The rye whiskey is decadent and spicy, but not uncomfortable spicy. The bottles from a couple years ago were some of the best rye I’ve ever had.

8. Jefferson’s Ocean Cask Strength — $87.99, 112 Proof

Just about any batch of Jefferson’s Ocean is going to be well-received on Christmas Day. But if you go the extra mile and track down a Cask Strength version, I bet you’ll get rewarded with extra time under the mistletoe — unless you’re buying it for Uncle Jack. Another solid pour from Jefferson’s. You should also seek out the Tropics bottle that just came out a few months back.

9. Corsair Dark Rye Whiskey — $44.99, 85 Proof

Here’s another rye whiskey on the list, and this one offers a completely different taste profile due to its unique mash bill of 61% malted rye, 35% malted barley and 4% malted chocolate rye. The flavor notes in this one are off the chart, including citrus, chocolate and dark fruit. Corsair likes to push whiskey to new levels, and this is proof they’re doing things right.

10. Kentucky Peerless Small Batch Bourbon — $74.99, 108.9 Proof (varies)

If you haven’t tried Kentucky Peerless bourbon yet, the holidays are a great time to do so — or to give the gift of discovery to someone else. The Louisville-based distillery is winning all sorts of awards now that their whiskey has aged to that nice 5-to-8-year mark. And their products are always non-chill filtered, which again, is a bonus in my book. Their rye whiskey is quite decent as well, and the double oaked versions of both the bourbon and rye are worth hunting down.

Conclusion

In the world of bourbon, finding the perfect gift for the holidays can be as rewarding as taking that first sip of a well-aged pour. While elusive bottles like Pappy, Blanton’s, or Weller 12 may be hard to come by, there’s a treasure trove of exceptional bourbons waiting to be discovered at your local liquor store.

For the bourbon aficionado in your life, any bottle, whether a cherished favorite or a new find, is sure to be appreciated. Whether savored neat or mixed into classic cocktails like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans, each pour offers a unique journey of flavors and aromas.

Navigating the whiskey aisle can be daunting, but fear not. With our curated selection of top 10 bourbons, you can’t go wrong. From the smooth and balanced Four Roses Small Batch Select to the bold and spicy Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Rye, each bottle promises an unforgettable drinking experience.

So, this holiday season, spread the cheer with the gift of bourbon. Whether it’s for a loved one or yourself, these bourbons are sure to brighten spirits and create lasting memories around the holiday table. Cheers to the joy of giving and the pleasure of enjoying fine bourbon with friends and family.

The Golden Era of Whiskey Investment: A Guide to Profiting from Liquid Gold

For two decades now, I’ve been at the forefront of alternative investing, helping my clients secure holdings in everything from diamonds to art. But it wasn’t until I got involved in the thriving and exciting whiskey business that I really discovered my passion: merging my love of spirits with my established background in finances and investment. And what a great time to be working with whiskey!

As you surely know by now, bourbon and whiskey are experiencing an incredible boom and have become the go-to spirit all around the world. Just take a look at our recent market report on the CaskX website.

Here in the U.S., bourbon is king, and while 95% of it is made in Kentucky, every state is currently making bourbon to add to the incredible growth of America’s only native spirit. It’s amazing — and sometimes overwhelming — when you’re standing at your favorite liquor outlet in the Bourbon/Whiskey aisle pondering which bottle to purchase.

Of course I have my tried-and-true favorites like Buffalo Trace, Russell’s Reserve and Jefferson’s Ocean, but every now and then I like to venture out and try something new, like maybe the latest release from Bardstown Bourbon Co. or one of those tasty Jack Daniel’s single barrels.

According to a recent report by IWSR, a great source for beverage alcohol trends in the world, whiskey sales in 2022 surpassed vodka for the first time in 20 years. It reads: “US whiskey holds the largest share of total whisky volumes, as well as percentage growth (+4%), with value increases led by bourbon which increased by +8%.”

Also worth mentioning is the uptick in the premium whiskey category throughout the last few years. While the entire spirits category is up 2% from 2021 despite the supply chain issues we’ve been dealing with, the premium category (higher-priced bottles) is up a whopping 13%, according to IWSR.

“Despite industry-wide price increases, premiumization (or trading up to higher-priced, often higher-quality products) is still driving all segments of beverage alcohol,” the report states. “Premiumization is occurring most notably in spirits. Overall, 33% of Americans said they had spent $50 or more on a bottle of alcohol in 2022, against just 24% in 2021. Furthermore, six in 10 online shoppers say they spend more on alcohol online than in-store.”

So where does whiskey barrel investment fit into all of this? As you know, CaskX specializes in the sale of whiskey barrel portfolios to investors in the U.S. and beyond — and we were one of the first to do so. We give accredited investors and bourbon enthusiasts a chance to own barrels from some of the industry’s rising stars and established distilleries. While that whiskey ages, it increases in value year after year (CaskX pays up to eight years for storage and insurance), and when the investor is ready, he or she can decide to sell, trade or even bottle their bourbon for a new brand.

If you’re as excited as I am to be a part of this thriving industry, reach out to me and I can give you all the nerdy details.

Liquid Gold Unleashed: A Look Into The Record-Shattering Art of Bourbon Auction

It’s hard to know exactly what unicorn bottles of bourbon and whiskey fetch these days, but with the help of public auctions, we can easily see what the value is to some collectors and aficionados. The recent Art of Bourbon auction in Louisville, Ky., for instance, raised a record-breaking $318,650 for a nonprofit organization, including a Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old bottle that went for $35,000.

This annual auction raises funds for the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, which was established in 1927 by philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed. The money from the auction will support the Speed’s exhibitions, outreach and education initiatives.

The Art of Bourbon auction, which took place on Sept. 26, was hosted by author and renowned bourbon critic Fred Minnick and Marc Abrams, a well-known bourbon expert and bourbon donor based in Louisville. More than 200 people showed up to see these prized bottles get top dollar, which is just another indication of a booming industry.

“This auction fires on all cylinders,” said bidder Tom O’Grady, who serves on the museum’s Board of Trustees, in a news release. “Proceeds support an important institution in our community, and I get my hands on ridiculously rare bourbons.”

O’Grady regularly donates historically significant and record-breaking bottles to this annual auction, and he was the winning bidder of the 20-year-old A.H. Hirsch bottle. (More on that below.)

While the auction featured more than 30 bottles and bourbon experiences, there were three coveted bottles everyone was clamoring for. According to the news release, these were the auction highlights:

  • Not just a Pappy 23 Year Old. The Pappy. A prized unicorn among all spirits, not just bourbon, fetched $35,000 and brought the event to a halt in an intense bidding war. This is from the first batch of Pappy 23 Year Old ever produced. This 1998 bottle is the first year that Julian Van Winkle III went to market with the 23 Year Old, with its tell-tale green-tinted glass and brandishing a gold wax top that’s no longer made, this one is the auction’s unicorn. It was bottled in 1998 and made its formal debut that year.
  • Sports gambler, author and philanthropist Billy Walters bet big and came away with one of the evening’s unicorns: the ultra-rare George T Stagg prohibition bottle. For $21,000, Walters took home this pristine bottle of brown water with a backstory. This 16-year-old expression, distilled prior to 1917 and bottled in 1928, was produced at the George T. Stagg Company, which was under the new leadership of Colonel Albert Blanton. To protect it from being reused once consumed, Four Roses Distillery developed the first patented tamper-proof container. That patent is still visible on the top of the box. Because they were running low on their own whisky to sell, Four Roses marketed the bottle.
  • A 20-year-old A.H. Hirsch that literally disappeared from the liquor shelves more than a quarter of a century ago brought in $15,500. The winning bid came from bourbon collector Tom O’Grady, a founder of Clear Cut Brands. This Hirsch represents a piece of history frozen in time. Distilled in 1974 and produced at the old Michter’s Distillery, it’s widely considered one of the best bourbons ever produced.

Conclusion

The recent Art of Bourbon auction in Louisville, Kentucky, not only shattered records but also showcased the fervent enthusiasm and deep pockets of collectors and aficionados within the bourbon community. With a staggering $318,650 raised for the Speed Art Museum, this event underscored the enduring allure of rare and coveted bottles of bourbon and whiskey.

Hosted by esteemed bourbon critic Fred Minnick and bourbon expert Marc Abrams, the auction attracted over 200 attendees, each eager to secure their piece of whiskey history. From the iconic Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old bottle, which fetched an astounding $35,000, to the ultra-rare George T Stagg prohibition bottle and the elusive A.H. Hirsch 20-year-old, the auction featured a lineup of coveted unicorns that ignited fierce bidding wars and captivated the crowd.

Beyond the thrill of acquiring prized bottles, the Art of Bourbon auction serves a noble purpose, supporting the Speed Art Museum’s exhibitions, outreach, and education initiatives. As bidder Tom O’Grady aptly stated, this event not only benefits the community but also grants enthusiasts the opportunity to acquire “ridiculously rare bourbons.”

With each auction, the whiskey industry continues to thrive, driven by passion, history, and the pursuit of excellence. As collectors and connoisseurs eagerly await the next opportunity to acquire coveted bottles, the legacy of these exceptional spirits lives on, enriching both the cultural landscape and the palates of whiskey enthusiasts worldwide.

Corsair Distillery: Pioneering the Craft Distilling Revolution

Corsair Distillery has been steadily increasing its reputation and whiskey fanfare in the Tennessee whiskey category ever since its humble beginnings. Started in 2008 by childhood friends Darek Bell and Andrew Webber, Corsair focuses on handcrafted, innovative distilling, and the crew’s adventurous whiskeys have won more than 800 medals at national and international spirits competitions.

The Nashville-based distillery has several core products, including an American Rye Malt Whiskey, a triple smoked American Single Malt Whiskey and two barrel-aged gins. But now they’re also getting into the contract distilling realm with a new distilling and production facility located nearby in Ashland City, Tenn.

Building History & Reputation

Corsair first got its start in Bowling Green, Ky., and instantly garnered attention for its innovative take on traditional whiskey-making, and after Bell and Webber moved the operations to their hometown of Nashville in 2010, it became the first craft distillery to open in the bustling Southern city since Prohibition.

During the last decade, Nashville has become one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and Corsair has continued to expand right along with it. In 2016, Corsair opened a second location in the popular and tourist-heavy Nashville neighborhood known as “WeHo.”

This gave the company more room for offices, barrel storage and distillery space, and it allowed the guys to rekindle their love of homebrewing by opening the Marathon Village “Brewstillery” on site, which offers up small batch craft beers as well.

Both Corsair locations are open to tours, and they host thousands of guests each year looking for that one-of-a-kind whiskey experience along the sprawling Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

Some of the aforementioned awards Corsair has received include: American Whiskey Distillery of the Year (2017) by the Berlin International Spirits Competition; American Whiskey Distillery of the Year (2016) by Whisky Magazine; World Distiller of the Year (2017) by Wizards of Whiskey; Whiskey Brand Innovator of the Year (2014) by Whisky Magazine; and U.S. Craft Distiller of the Year (2017) by Wizards of Whiskey, among many others.

In 2015, Bell and his up-and-coming distillery were featured in an article in The Tennessean titled “Darek Bell goes against the grain at Corsair Distillery.” The writer noted: “Bell is part of the new breed of distillers who look for stories in everything: in the ingredients, in the methods and the equipment. Bell knows he is helping write the next chapters of micro-distilling’s history.”

With this new production facility now running full-time, Corsair is poised to become one of the leading producers of Tennessee whiskey and bourbon in the country.

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