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Cask Fraud Addressed in Scottish Parliament

The potential impacts of cask investment fraud on the scotch whisky industry was discussed in the Scottish Parliament.

Mark Littler, editor in chief of The Whiskey Wash and co-founder of ProtectYourCask.com, was mentioned in the Scottish Parliament yesterday as the potential impacts of cask investment fraud was discussed by the MPs.

Fergus Ewing addressed the Scottish Parliament on 17 April 2024 about cask fraud and the potential impacts it could have on the scotch whisky industry. Before his address he thanked Blair Bowman, Vikki Bruce as well as Mark Littler and Felipe Schrieberge for their work co-founding the educational resource ProtectYourCask.com.

“If there is a serious scandal, [cask fraud] could seriously damage the reputation of scotch whisky worldwide,” was part of Ewing’s closing remarks. However as he points out earlier in his speech, fraud is already being discovered within the industry.

In June 2022 a British man was arrested by the FBI, accused of defrauding $13,000,000 through whisky cask investment schemes targeted at elderly investors in the US. As recently as November 2023 the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency had to issue an enforcement notice to cask investment companies to stop them from using unrelated returns rates of in excess of 500% in their marketing materials. Companies were using data from the Knight Frank index which actually referred to the 10 year average of 100 bottles of very rare and expensive whisky up to 2018. The figures used were 5 years out of date (the ten year average has dropped to less than 300% as of the 2024 report) and unrelated to the potential of casks due to being a completely different asset.

Despite the material risk to investors it is very hard for consumers to find accurate material to educate themselves on how to avoid being defrauded with a cask investment. This is why Mark Littler and Felipe Schrieberg spent almost 12 months developing ProtectYourCask.com. But as Ewing’s address points out, true protection needs to come from higher up.

Hannah Thompson

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