CWA launched to provide safe whisky investment environment

The Cask Whisky Association (CWA) has been launched to establish “a safe environment” for whisky enthusiasts and customers to buy and sell casks.

The new association is made up of two boards of members and advisors, including cask whisky businesses, distilleries, independent bottlers, whisky experts and authors, as well as legal and insurance professionals working within the sector.

It’s aim is to set best practices in cask whisky ownership and sale, and to protect consumers and the wider whisky industry, it said.=

The association said it was “in discussions” with the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the Worshipful Company of Distillers and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), seeking cooperation and collaboration to address issues in the sector. It is also petitioning The Bonded Warehousekeepers Association (The BWA) to gain their support.

Chairman of the advisory board and spokesperson for the association, Colin Hampden-White, said: “The Cask Whisky Association exists to protect private customers from unscrupulous business practices and traders and safeguard independent bottlers from over-inflated pricing. “Our Members are committed to, and will provide guidance on, best practice.”

It comes as Wendy Chamberlain MP, Chair of the Scotch Whisky APPG, has today written to the business minister responsible for the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill, seeking clarification on whether the new consumer legislation will increase protections for investors in cask whisky.

She said in the letter: “Having met with the Cask Whisky Association, I am aware that there are many reputable organisations who want to provide good investment opportunities to enthusiasts and investors alike. The actions of bad actors in this field risk harming not only consumers, but the reputation of Scotch whisky and the long-term viability of the industry as a whole.”

The Association has also met with Lord Richard Harrington – who is leading the government review of foreign direct investment (FDI). He said: “This type of cross-industry collaboration is welcomed. Where blind spots in regulation exist, such as in the cask investment space, it is encouraging to see different parts of the industry coming together to address the issues that emerge. Scotch is a true British success story so measures must be put in place to protect the integrity of the sector.”

Other MPs have also lended supporting to the setting up of the group. Nickie Aiken, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, said: “I am delighted to hear of the great work of the Cask Whisky Association, which is being set up to educate and protect investors in the fast-growing cask whisky market. As the sector continues to grow, it’s vital that adequate protections are in place for consumers and investors alike.”

Whisky author Hans Offringa, who also sits on the CWA’s advisory board, said there were “a lot of cowboys out there” and the association would “provide a quality hallmark for people looking to buy and invest in whisky”.

Below is the current executive and advisory board at the time of writing (21 September).

CWA Executive Board

  • Keith Rennie – Director at Scotch Whisky International Ltd

  • Simon Aron – Managing Director of Cask Trade Ltd

  • Saul Kelly – Managing Director of Fruitful Spirits Ltd

  • George Stewart – Director of Stewart Whisky Company Ltd

  • Danny Saltman – Director of Malts at DS Tayman

  • Saul Taylor – Managing Director of Dalkeith Brokerage Ltd

  • Russell Spratley – Director of Spiritfilled Ltd

CWA Advisory Board

  • Colin Hampden-White – TV presenter and whisky journalist

  • Charles Maclean – Author and whisky expert

  • Hans Offringa – Author and whisky expert

  • George Frier – Partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

  • Patricia Dillon – Managing Director of Speyside Distillers Co. Ltd

  • John Laurie – Managing Director of The Glenturret

  • Graeme Dempster – Account Executive at insurance broker Bruce Stevenson

  • Martin Purvis – Associate Director of Kelvin Cooperage

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