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Delivery Orders Explained: Do You Need One To Buy A Cask?

A delivery order is the industry-standard method of transferring ownership of a cask, a document listing the details of the cask including the buyer and seller. It is signed and recognised by both, and then acknowledged by the warehouse where the cask is stored.

To be clear, a delivery order is not legally necessary to own a cask. The law requires only that there is a record of clear communication between the warehousekeeper storing the cask and the owner.

However, delivery orders are useful. They ensure full autonomy over the purchased cask.  A delivery order makes it straightforward to contact the warehouse where it’s stored, verify its existence and/or even to sell that cask when desired.

How to get a delivery order

In most situations, to obtain a delivery order you either need an account at the warehouse where your cask will be stored or to work with a cask broker who is able to set up an account at a warehouse for you. When opening an account, the warehouse will check your details to comply with relevant legislation -for example, they must confirm that you are not a revenue trader if you are domiciled in the UK.

If a warehouse is willing to store your cask, then all you need to do to get a delivery order is ask the seller to issue one. Any reputable cask brokers will be able to issue a delivery order, a simple document listing the seller’s and purchasers’ details as well as the cask details. The document is then signed by both the seller and purchaser and posted to the warehouse, which must acknowledge receipt.

The delivery order catch-22

Some cask dealers, stockists and brokers will not be able to provide a delivery order to prospective clients. 

Here’s why: The laws governing warehouses are very clear about what needs to be done when a cask sale is completed. However, because too many individuals were and are buying and selling casks without providing the warehouses with the relevant information that assures their legal compliance, many warehouses have stopped opening new private accounts, making it harder to own a cask in a safe way.

A dealer, stockist or broker who does not work with a warehouse willing to open new private accounts therefore cannot offer a delivery order unless an account already exists, creating a Catch-22 that complicates acquisition of a delivery order.

Unfortunately, without a delivery order the risks of buying a Scotch whisky cask are higher than many cask investment companies might claim, although it is possible to do so safely and legally. 

For example, some cask dealers use or have used the legal terms ‘bailment’ and ‘beneficial title’ as a workaround when they are unable to issue delivery orders. These do have a precedent for according ‘monetary rights’ to the profit of something owned by someone else, but the legal precedent is not found in the whisky industry. Rather, it comes from stock shares, houses and other regulated financial industries. Its application to the whisky industry is untested. 

If a Scotch whisky cask investment firm employs these terms as ownership workarounds without adequately explaining them and the rights they confer to the prospective cask ‘owner’, it could amount to misrepresentation, potentially leading to legal implications under UK law.

It’s important to be careful when receiving a certificate of ownership, beneficial title, or similar document. If a seller isn’t able to provide a delivery order, the Scotch Whisky Association recommends the following: 

“Before you complete the purchase you should check with the warehousekeeper what documents they require [to record the transfer of ownership] and ensure that the seller can deliver them to you.”


Is there any other way of transferring ownership?

The legal requirement to have a delivery order for cask ownership was repealed in 2006. Currently, the warehouse storing the cask is obliged to determine how ownership is transferred. Most still require a delivery order but receiving direct confirmation from the warehouse where the cask is stored that the cask is in the new owner’s name is an acceptable legal alternative.

Nor is a delivery order required when the purchase of a cask is arranged directly with the company that owns the warehouse where the cask is stored – for example from a distillery. In this situation, your purchase is already logged with the warehouse storing the cask, hence no need for a delivery order.

The absence of a delivery order does not necessarily imply fraudulent activity, but it may elevate the risks associated with purchasing a cask.


The information provided on Protect Your Cask is intended solely for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or investment advice. We strongly encourage readers to conduct their own research and, where necessary, consult with professional advisors or legal counsel before making any investment decisions in the Scotch whisky cask market. The views and opinions expressed herein are not intended to serve as a guarantee or prediction of future events and should not be relied upon as such. Protect Your Cask disclaims any liability for decisions made based on the information provided on this website.