Koia Team
May 6, 2022

Introducing whisky expert Mark Littler

Tell us about yourself and what you do

My name is Mark Littler and I am from the aptly named Mark Littler Limited. 

I'm essentially a whisky consultant, broker, and market analyst. What’s more, we work with antiques, classic cars, collectible watches etc. At first glance, you might think a watch has no relationship to wine or whisky or paintings or classic cars, but when you look at them from a wider perspective, what are those items? They're all signifiers of status in 21st century society. So the people who buy a 50,000 pound bottle of whisky from us are the same people that might spend a hundred thousand pounds on watch. 

How did you get involved in the industry?

For a long time, I was an auctioneer and for one of the auction houses that I worked for, I set up a fine wine and whisky unit for them. So that's where I really got my grounding in the industry. 

In 2016, I set up my own business, so I've been in the whisky industry for a while. From when whisky was just a drink - bottles of whisky that were £300 - £500 back then - to now where those same sort of bottles can be £5,000 - £8,000. The reason for that transformation is because whisky has gone from being seen as the drink to being seen as a status symbol.

So, I've got quite a lot of experience and understanding of the market and that's further added to, by my master's, which was in Museum Studies. What I focused on specifically within that masters was around the construct of value: what is it that makes a Patek Philippe more valuable than a Casio?

If you look at it from a utilitarian point of view, the Patek Philippe and Casio probably keep very accurate time. In fact, the Casio might even keep better time, but it's the social structures that create value. This same trend has very much come into the fold with whisky since 2015; all these little factors contribute to why my job is fantastic and so interesting!

What are some interesting clients that you’ve worked with? 

Some of the notable collections that you might've seen over the years: we sold a vertical of Macallan 18 year old in 2020 that made the press. It was for Matthew Robson. It pretty much went viral: from New York all the way to New Delhi. (editor’s note: Matthew received a bottle of 18 year old Macallan each year for his birthday, making up the vertical).

A couple of months ago, we completed the sale of another big vertical of whisky, the Aberlour A'bunadh. We've actually sold that back to the distillery of all places. So we're very much active on the secondary market.

What else do you work on besides brokering? 

One of my main passions is educating people and sharing my knowledge. And if you go to our YouTube channel, you'll find dozens of videos about whisky investment: the pitfalls of cask investment, histories about distilleries and much more.

Working with Koia

Education is also one of the things we're going to be working on with Koia. For example, the whisky collections that are going to be coming for sale: what makes them so special? How do they fit into the history of whisky? What makes them so exciting? Is there anything that the market's overlooking that other people aren't actually noticing about these bottles. I’m excited to be sharing those sort of industry insights!

We're also going to be helping to authenticate and source bottles for future collections. We’ll aim to curate Interesting collections that are going to be unique. So you can buy into collections that might not exist anywhere. For instance, verticals, like we mentioned about that vertical of 18 year olds that we sold in 2020. The verticals can be worth more as a whole than the sum of their parts.

The whisky industry, as you'll come to find out, has a lot of undervalued whiskies in the market. And I think unlike the watch market and unlike the wine market, there are a lot of very good investments hiding in plain sight. 

Fractionalizing Whisky

“I think in general, fractionalization is very exciting, because in many instances, the cost of whisky is prohibitive.”

You know, can you invest £15,000 in a single bottle of whisky? Probably not. But by owning fractions of it this is getting democratized. It opens up the whiskies to a lot of people.

I also like the way the NFT is representing part of a physical asset. So it's not just sort of digital item, which makes it much more attractive from my perspective. You’ve got an asset backing the NFT, with that asset being stored in a secure third party site.

Tips for newcomers 

There are a lot of very overvalued bottles of whisky on the market that may be increasing as much as 50% or a 100% every single month. But those bottles are overrated. Those bottles have seen their growth. What you want to look for are the bottles overlooked by the market. 

In the same way that Warren Buffett looks at his investments, you look at the value of an item, and then you make your own determination of the value. And if it's undervalued by the market, that's where you go in. And that's what I'm excited about finding.

The second tip would be to think forward, you know, go back five, 10 years and Dalmore was the king of single-malt whisky. Right now you might not have even heard of Dalmore because all most people seem to hear about is Macallan. It will be hard to knock them off the top of the market, but I believe the market will change and another brand will come up and take that Macallan crown from them. It’s not just looking at how the market is today, but how that market will evolve in the future, because ultimately that's going to have a big bearing on the value of those assets going forward.

Finally, the last thing that I'd say is learn the basics. Learn about how whisky is made, learn about how whisky is matured, learn about the different casks and the distilleries and the histories of those distilleries.

And again, you can get all of that information on our YouTube channel because ultimately that will lead to a much more informed investment going forward. 

Want to learn more about whisky? Check out Mark Littler's YouTube channel or Mark Littler's website.

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At Koia, we allow you to buy, trade and collect fractions of iconic assets, starting from $60. Our experts make sure to source and buy the best assets, and we take care of authentication, storage and insurance. All of the benefits, with none of the hassle.

The articles and information made available on Koia are provided for information and educational purposes only and do not constitute financial advice. You are advised to consult with an independent financial advisor for advice on your specific circumstances.