13 October 2023
The MacInnes Whisky Glossary of Terms
All you need to know about some of the terms associated with, or related to, the making of single-malt Scotch whisky; the appreciation of fine whiskies; whisky casks as an asset for medium-long term investment.
The MacInnes Whisky team are always available to answer your questions, so if the answers you need aren't shown below, please Contact Us and we'll be happy to help.
Frequently-used Whisky Terms and their Meaning:
Meaning ‘Alcohol by Volume’, this abbreviation refers to the amount of alcoholic units per measure of liquid.
The ‘Angels’ Share’ is the romantic term to describe the rate at which whisky is lost during cask maturation due to evaporation per year.
Meaning ‘Age of Youngest Spirit,’ this abbreviation refers to the age of the whisky within a cask. It is particularly relevant when talking about a blended whisky as it is a legal requirement to declare the age of the youngest spirit within the blend.
Beneficial ownership means someone who ultimately owns an asset; in this case, the whisky cask.
Beneficial Ownership Certificate
Once a customer has paid for their cask they will receive a beneficial ownership certificate.
Blended malt is created by combining more than one single malt whiskies together to further enhance its flavour.
A bonded warehouse is a customs-controlled warehouse for the retention of imported goods until the duty owed is paid.
Capital Gains Tax
Capital gains tax is a tax due on the profit of an asset at its point of sale.
A whisky cask contains approximately 200 litres of whiskey. A cask investment means to purchase a cask and let it mature for 10+ years before either selling it on or having it bottled.
The delivery order of a cask represents the changing of ownership not dissimilar to the deeds of a house purchase. As legal owners of the cask, MacInnes will retain the this document and provide the purchaser with a beneficial ownership certificate.
As the alcohol within a whisky cask is unstable, duty (alcohol tax) is paid on whisky at the time it is bottled, and the amount of duty paid is based on how much alcohol there is in the cask at this time.
Excise duties are indirect taxes on the sale or use of specific products, such as alcohol or tobacco. The revenue from these excise duties goes entirely to the country to which they are paid. When stored in a bonded HMRC registered warehouse, your whisky cask will have an excise suspension upon it meaning you will not have to pay these duties.
An independent bottler is a company which doesn’t own a distillery but bottles its whiskies.
Whilst the customer will receive ‘beneficial ownership of the cask, Macinnes whisky will retain ‘legal ownership’. It is only by doing so that the customer can enjoy the tax free gains that make whisky cask investment so lucrative.
When we talk about a long term investment, we’re really talking about 10 + years. This is not only to allow your cask to mature but for the same ‘vintage’ to become more scarce, making it more desirable and potentially warranting a higher market value.
Meaning ‘original litres of alcohol’. This is the litres of alcohol strength when the whisky is first put in the cask.
Oxidation is the breakdown of the alcohol molecule, as well as the tannins from the oak in the cask. Oxidation is one of many steps of barrel maturation. It’s often considered that the more oxidisation that has taken place, the better the flavour of the whisky.
Peat / Peating
Peat is partially decayed vegetation or organic matter that has built up over hundreds of years. The process of peating a whisky is sometime carried out during the malting process of whisky making. The ‘peatier’ the whisky, the more smoky in flavour it tends to taste. Often a characteristic of some of the Island distilleries malts.
Meaning ‘Parts per Million’, the degree of smokiness of a whisky is often given in this unit.
Old measurement of alcohol strength prior to the now more commonly used Alc. Vol.
Regauge Litre of Alcohol. As whisky matures in an oak cask it evaporates and loses strength. As a result the alcoholic content steadily declines. A re-examination of the cask's content is done either at the point when it is sold or when it is prepared for blending or vatting.
Single grain whisky is a whisky produced in a singular distillery. Unlike a ‘single malt’ whisky which can only be produced using malted barley, single grain whisky can be made from rye, wheat, corn or malted or unmalted barley.
Single malt refers to a Whisky made from malted barley that’s produced in a single distillery.
Tax Free Gains
‘Tax Free Gains’ refers to profit made on an investment that isn’t subject to tax.
Temporal appreciation refers to the increase in value (in this case, of the spirit) in correlation with time.
A trademark spirit is a spirit that denotes a badge of ownership that is recognised as that of a particular brand or company.
This is a warehouse that isn't registered with HMRC and therefore not considered a ‘bonded warehouse’. As such, the assets it holds will be subject to excise and any other potential taxes.
Whisky casks are classed by HMRC as a ‘wasting asset' and as such, they are not subject to Capital Gains Tax. A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable lifespan of less than or up to 50 years. For whisky, this is due to the fact that the wooden casks are naturally porous, allowing a very small amount of alcohol (the angel’s share) to evaporate each year.
A WOWGR licence stands for ‘Warehouse Owners Warehouse Goods Regulations’. This licence entitles the holder to hold spirituous liquids in duty suspension i.e. a bonded warehouse.
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