OVERSEAS sales of Scots whisky to Asian investors are pushing up the price by as much as 1,000 per cent.

High-end whisky is increasingly being snapped up by wealthy buyers from China, Taiwan and Malaysia and bottles that most people in the UK would buy as an investment or a collector’s item are disappearing.

This means that collectable bottles are becoming increasingly rare, driving the price up from an average of £50 to about £5,000 apiece in the space of a few years.

One example is the Macallan Private Eye whisky, produced in Scotland. Priced at £37 per bottle in 1996, sales of the spirit are now going for £5,000.

Another recent 29-year-old cask of Macallan sold for £215,000. The sale would have produced fewer than 200 bottles, making the whisky cost more than £1,000 a piece.

Matteo Menestrina, owner of the Speyside Whisky Shop in Aberlour, said: “Taiwan is a huge buyer as well, maybe even bigger than China. I have been told it is a status thing over there

– something to show who is better than who by who has the most expensive whisky.

“When they do business meetings, they open a big bottle to impress.

“America used to be a big market but it’s collapsed since Trump brought in the five per cent duty tax so it’s slowed down from there.

“Asia’s a big market. Last year I had a lot of Indian customers too, they can spend a lot. They have a lot of buying power. If I’m shipping to Asia, VAT comes off so it is much cheaper for them to buy over here.

“Last year I sold a cask for over £20,000.”

He added: “I have a Bowmore coming in soon that is 52 years old and I expect it will go to an Asian buyer for around £32,000.”

One of the biggest buyers is Viet Nguyen Dinh Tuan a businessman in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, who has been recognised by the Guinness book of records for his collection of rare whisky.

Another whisky dealer, Dale Tate, who owns Fiddichside Whisky Ltd, also in Aberlour, said the demand for sales is being driven because whisky has become a thing of status in China.

Mr Tate said: “I’ve seen how in Chinese restaurants they just order old whisky and then don’t even drink it because they don’t like it.

“There, they wouldn’t touch a 12-year-old whisky which we in the UK would consider to be very good. They will only drink whisky over 18 years old. They just want to be seen ordering the most expensive and the best of everything – it’s a status thing for them.”

When asked if it is fair to say Scotland is being stripped of its best whisky he said: “Absolutely.”

He went on to talk about the price of one his favourite drinks being sold.

Mr Tate said: “The Macallan is one of the most sought after single malt whiskies in the world, popular with enthusiasts, collectors and connoisseurs across the globe.

“In recent years this particular distillery has seen a spike in demand for its single malts, mainly driven by the Asian market and its desire for consuming the best Scotland has to offer.

“For people savvy enough to have purchased a bottle at the original launch price – £150 in 2011, £350 in 2012 and £350 for 2013 – you would now be sitting on a very tidy investment, with auction prices around £9,000 for the set.”

Mr Tate said the thirst from the Asian market is creating a great opportunity for Britons looking to make a profit from whisky-buying.

He said: “With interest rates at an all- time low, people looking for alternative investments are now flocking to secure bottles of whisky.”

Japanese whisky producers are desperately trying to compete with the Scottish market and are buying up Scottish distilleries, said Mr Tate, who added that a lot of Japanese whisky is actually produced in Scotland.

“They do have some great whiskies in Japan but a lot of the stuff is produced in Scottish distilleries they’ve bought,” he said.

“They are trying to be better than Scotch whisky but the fact is they will never be Scotch whisky. The only ingredient that is Japanese in a lot of their whiskies is the water.”