Liquid assets are always an important part of a portfolio, and a new exchange-traded fund is putting the emphasis on the liquid part.
The Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey and Spirits ETF (WSKY) debuted Wednesday and focuses primarily on companies that derive the majority of their revenue from producing and marketing whiskey and spirits. It is the brainchild of a company called Spirited Funds, in partnership with ETF Managers Group, which is best known for bringing to market thematic funds such as the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK) and The Restaurant ETF (BITE)
WSKY includes names such as Pernod Ricard, Diageo, Brown Forman, Kirin Holdings and others, and Sam Masucci, chief executive officer of ETF Managers Group, says this is the first ETF to focus on spirits.
There is strong demand for top-shelf liquor, Masucci says. Citing data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, high-end premium and super-premium bourbon and Tennessee whiskey brands saw revenues increase 50% and 155%, respectively, between 2010 and 2015, with total U.S. spirits sales at $72 billion in 2015.
“Even in a sluggish economy, people are still investing in whiskey and bourbon, where they want to pay up for that premium brand, and that’s very interesting from an investment standpoint,” Masucci says.
David Bolton, president and chief executive officer of Spirited Funds, says not only is U.S. demand strong, but so is global demand for spirits. India is the top market for Scotch whiskey, he says.
“It made sense for investors worldwide to have the opportunity to participate in the revenue chain rather than just spending dollars into it,” he says.
Bolton says the idea for the Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey and Spirits Index, the basis for the ETF, came from his knowledge of the economic impact of bourbon on Kentucky, where he grew up and still lives. His research into the spirits category confirmed the idea of a potential investment.
The fund falls under the consumer discretionary category and is considered a growth investment, Masucci says. It has an expense ratio of 75 basis points and was seeded with $2.5 million. It is market-capitalization weighted and rebalances quarterly.
The geographic tilt is international, Bolton says, with only 15% of the fund’s companies based in the U.S.