How do you decide which bottles go into each auction? - Rab, Inverness

It largely depends on what comes into the office! We try to keep a fairy policy of 'first in, first on the site' as we can get multiples of the same bottle. This means everyone gets a fair go at selling the bottle without flooding an auction with hundreds of the same one.

Do I need to keep the corks moist on the bottles I am storing? - Stephen, Nottingham

This is a hotly contested question amongst whisky collectors and drinkers! You don't want to lie the bottles down like you would with wine. Whisky is a lot stronger in ABV and it will eat away at the cork and the glue holding it onto the top. A gentle inversion of the bottle every so often to stop it from becoming too dry is probably all you need to do.

I have a growing collection of whisky. Where do I start with regard to looking at insuring my bottles? - James, Newcastle upon Tyne

There are special insurance brokers who should be able to help you. Most household insurance will offer a small level of coverage, but if you have a growing collection, it is best to seek specialist advice. Make sure you're keeping an accurate record of what you have and purchase prices for the bottles, too!

If you had £150 a month to invest in whisky, via auctions, what advice would you give to try to maximise your return over 20 years? - Phil, Aberdeen

This is a tricky question! It depends on what you're looking to do with your bottles long-term. Some whisky collectors and drinkers like to 'trade up' so use the money to steadily purchase more expensive bottles to be able to drink more expensive bottles than they would usually afford to open.

At the end of your 20 years of collecting, do you want to have some really cool bottles to open or sell back into the marketplace? If you're looking to return them back into the market, you need to play the game carefully and ensure you've bought bottles that will remain attractive at that point in time.

Which are the hidden gems for collecting and investing in the whisky category? - Georgi, Bulgaria

There's a general principle that you want to look for bottles which are from small releases, for example, single casks or limited releases. This means as time goes on there will be fewer of them remaining as bottles are opened and consumed. Just be careful - some limited releases can mean 60,000 bottles, which is a lot more than a single barrel which can be only a couple of hundred bottles.

I will have over 100 bottles to auction in time. I know prices go up and down over the years, but is there any evidence about the best time of year to enter bottles for auction? - David, Oxfordshire

Another tricky question! It depends if you have multiple of the same bottle. You don't want to sell them all at once because you're crowding your own market. Over our years of experience, we don't think that there's one time of the year that's necessarily better than another. Obviously, if you're selling at Christmas, you might be appealing to bidders who are looking for gifts. But if you're selling an interesting bottle that a bidder really wants, it doesn't matter if it's December or July! Don't forget that at TWSA we've got a global audience so what's happening here in the UK doesn't necessarily reflect the seasons in another country.

Is there an ideal temperature to store whisky? Does humidity affect storage? - Alasdair, St. Andrews

This is quite important for long-term storage. You want to think about a cool place which is not affected by too much light. We often get asked about storing in a loft or a garage. Ideally, you want a consistent temperature that doesn't fluctuate too much. This means that a loft which isn't insulated is not ideal because it goes from hot to cold. Humidity can affect the labels and the glue which holds them onto the bottles, so ideally you want somewhere dry but not hot.

What are the main criteria which determine the value of bottles of whisky? - Mark, Girvan

Lots of things, but the main ones (in no particular order) are scarcity, brand/distillery reputation, condition of the bottle, and demand from the bidders! If you have a bottle that fits those then you're on to a strong auction entry.

When it comes to investing through auctions, what are the tips and tricks to grab the best bottles? - Ang, London

We get asked this a lot! When you're bidding, put in the price you're comfortable with and walk away. It's very easy to get caught up in a bidding war if you're not careful! Obviously, this might sound like odd advice coming from us, but it's human nature to get competitive. If you follow this, you shouldn't end up feeling like you've bid too much for a bottle. Auctions are meant to be fun for bidders and sellers alike.

What underrated bottlings do you recommend people look out for? - Andrew, Tonbridge

At TWSA, we recommend using the auctions as a chance to try something perhaps you've never seen before. We have lots of old blends which give you a chance to open a whisky that contains a little slice of whisky history! There are some great blends which will contain whiskies that may be older than you! We think that's a fun thing to try, too.

How significant is having the original box/packaging to the value of a whisky lot? - John, London

In our experience, it's a bit of a misconception as to how important this is. You can have a look through our auction price history. Quite often, there's not much difference in the final hammer prices of bottles which may have some of the packaging missing. This depends on the person who is bidding on the bottle. If they are a collector, then they may want to have all the packaging. If you've got it then save it with the bottle, just in case!

What is it like to be a whisky auctioneer? I have always wanted to pursue a career in the whisky industry. - Nathalie, London

We're a really close team hereat TWSA. You need to be able to muck in with anything that comes up as every day looks different in our office! So being a team player is really important as we deal with a wide variety of tasks over the week. From getting the bottles in the door, working with customers, processing bottle images, and getting products live. That's before you think about getting bottles back out to customers! We've also got our lovely Davie who goes all over the UK collecting bottles from customers to put into the auctions.

The whisky industry encompasses many jobs. Why not start by getting involved in a local whisky club and festival? They are great places to make connections whilst enjoying whisky, too!

The original feature is from the Summer 2023 edition of Whiskeria, delivered to the door of W Club subscribers and also free with any Whisky Shop purchase in-store or online.