First Round: Worth a shot

Exciting news from Hong Kong, with the launch of what may well be the first ever private equity fund focused solely on whisky (as opposed to private equity practitioners focused solely on whisky, of which First Round imagines there have probably been a few over the years).

And not just any old whisky, either. The Platinum Whisky Investment Fund, which launched in Hong Kong in March with a target of $10 million, will focus on single malt Scotch – which it says is enjoying “exponential, world-wide growth in demand”.

The investment thesis is simple: single malts have seen their sales almost triple to $1.1 billion in the last decade, according to the Scotch Whisky Association – and with demand still outstripping supply, especially in Asia and especially for the premium vintage malts, they’re also rising in value. “The Fund provides unique access to an increasingly rare product,” says CEO Rickesh Kishnani.

It can’t hurt that the fund’s chief investment officer is David Robertson, who was previously Master Distiller at The Macallan and Rare Whisky Director at The Dalmore. What he doesn’t know about IRRs and J-curves, he can presumably make up for with his knowledge of malting and mashing.

Platinum also claims that collectibles like art, fine wine and rare coins have performed well relative to other traditional asset classes – and that premium whisky has done better than all of them. As far as First Round is concerned, this is indubitably a sign that the world is becoming a better and more civilised place.

Although it would take issue with one point: can you really classify whisky as a collectible? If First Round ever gets its paws on a decent bottle of single malt, there’s absolutely no chance of it lasting long enough to see its value appreciate.