This article is about the world’s most expensive whiskey, and where you can find it. However before we dive in, it’s worth giving this famous gold liquid a little introduction.
There are few things as beautiful as a glass bottle filled with deep amber whiskey. Liquor shines when the light hits it, reminiscent of precious things like jewels and gold. But whiskey is better than some lifeless bracelet or coronet.
Whiskey is a living thing capable of any emotion that you are. Its love and deep laughter and brotherhood of the type that bonds nations together.
Whiskey is your friend when nobody else comes around. Whiskey is solace that holds you tighter that most lovers can.
Walter Mosley, “Black Betty”
The word whiskey translates to “water of life”. It of course originated from Scotland during the early 1400’s, but is now popular around the world. Even today, whiskey tastes much like it did when it first began. Manufacturers of whiskey are strong on heritage, and therefore do all they can to capture the flavor that whiskey has always been known for.
For any occasion, whiskey is truly great. Whiskey is commonly used during weddings and ceremonies, and both the bride and groom will drink it to signify a relationship that will stand the test of time. The drink isn’t only served with weddings, as it has also seen a huge increase in popularity in bars and restaurants. Celebrities like David Beckham have been seen drinking it.
Those wishing to signify friendship can also serve whisky as a gesture of wanting to be friends.
You will note there are two spellings: “whisky” refers to product from Scotland, while “whiskey” is the spelling used for Irish and American products (interestingly, until early in the twentieth century the official spelling in Scotland contained the “e”). I chose the American spelling because the information provided about availability is based upon distribution in the US.
Most Americans will probably search for information with the “e” spelling. I apologize to the much larger (and correct) body of whisky-lovers who appreciate the difference.
Before I discuss the most expensive whiskey, you should probably understand where whiskey comes from and the different types and whiskey prices.
Scotland is of course the largest producer of aged whiskey with over 80 distilleries, even though many have been closed over the last ten years.
The second largest producer is the United States of America, (they are also the largest market for scotch whiskey, followed fairly closely by France) but did you know that just behind them is Japan.
Interestingly Ireland comes in at fourth. There are now more than 20 countries that produces whiskey; however the only country that can call their whiskey “scotch” is Scotland.
The regulations state that any bottle bearing the label “Scotch Whisky” has to have been distilled in Scotland and matured in oak casks for at least three years.
Where you see a label showing the age of a bottle of scotch, it must be the age of the youngest whiskey that was used to create the product. For the cheaper mass produced bottles of scotch that don’t have an age statement, their age must be at least three years old.
The best scotch is distilled twice, some three times and a small number between 15 and 20 times, to get the purest flavour.
So we have discussed Scotch Whiskey, but you also have the best single malt whiskey, blended malt whiskey, single whiskey, blended whiskey, bourbon, corn, rye and wheat whiskeys.
Single Malt Whiskey
This is as the name describes, a whiskey from a single distillery. It is made from a mash that utilizes only one malted grain (normally malted barley). However unless the label on the bottle states it is “single cask” then chances are that the whiskey is from different barrels and possibly different ages. This is how the company’s blender can achieve such a consistent flavour for their particular brand.
Blended Malt Whiskey
As the name suggests this is a combination of different malted whiskeys. The whiskey could be blended from many different distilleries. The taste and flavour is down to the expertise of the blender.
Made from a mash that isn’t malted, this type of whiskey is normally taken from an individual barrel. In many cases the bottle is listed with the specific barrel. Without the blending the taste can change from cask to cask.
As the name suggests similar to blended malt whiskey, except malted grains are not used in the process.
Famous in America, bourbon whiskey has to be made from a corn that is at least 51% of the total mash.
Again an American product where the mash needs to be at least 80% corn.
Rye and Wheat whiskeys
These whiskeys must have at least 51% Rye or Wheat as the main part of the mash.
The Most Expensive Whiskey
You will probably have guessed by now that the most expensive whiskies are the ones that have aged the longest. Expect to pay $20 – $30 dollars for Jim Beam, Bourbon or Jack Daniels, right up to $85,000 for a 50 year old single blend whiskey. At this point, I feel there is an important distinction to make in respect of the most expensive whiskey. You will probably see other websites quoting figures of $600,000 plus for the most expensive whiskey title. However before you jump out of your chair, you should understand that the large price tag is mainly down to the vessel the whiskey is kept in rather than the whiskey. I am more interested in the whiskey itself and am therefore not concerning myself with records that are more bottle than whiskey!!
I have listed below four of the best out of top 10 whiskeys and most expensive whiskies in the world. If money is no object you can still own and enjoy one of these rare bottles.
Springbank 1919 Cambeltown single malt scotch whiskey
Springbank distillery is the oldest in Scotland, which is still family owned. It was founded in by Archibald Mitchell in 1828 and is now managed by Hedley Wright, who is the great great grandson and the fifth generation to own and manage.
Cambeltown itself is classed as the whiskey capital of the world and it’s no surprise that the distillery prides itself on the skill and traditional production methods used to create such fine blends. A rarety in our modern times, Springbank whiskey is one hundred percent a handmade process and unusually refining is carried out on just the one site. Visitors can still enjoy a tour and see where the most expensive whiskey (as confirmed by the Guinness book of records) was made.
The whiskey was distilled two and a half times and introduces the coconut oily flavour that makes this whiskey so famous. The famous bottle has a spicy ginger nose, combined with a mix of sea foam and a hint of peat
There are only a few bottles of this vintage remaining and they are valued at $85000.
Macallan 1949 50 year old Millennium Decanter
The Macallan distillery is located in Speyside Scotland. The Macallan Estate is about 390 acres in total, and as well as the distillery contains Easter Elchies House which was built in the 1700’s. At least 90 acres is laid down to the famous minstrel barley, which is used to give Macallan Whiskies its unique taste.
The distillery itself has fourteen copper stills, although they are actually the smallest of their type on Speyside, their small size assist in producing the rich fruity flavour that is unmistakably Macallan.
In a break with the norm Macallan only take sixteen percent of the distilled whiskey, ensuring that only the best is used. Whilst this is one of the smallest amounts in the industry, it ensures quality and the great Macallan name.
The Macallan 1949 Whiskey was distilled on the 14th January 1949. The whiskey was secured in specially sourced Spanish oak sherry casks and poured into a unique handmade Caithness decanter in August 1999.
Caithness Glass well respected producers of glass ware in Scotland, export their wares all over the world. The decanter is presented in an oak box, which features a commemorative copper plate. The copper plate was taken from a redundant still (number 9) from the Macallan distillery. The decanter is also finished using the same copper.
The whiskey is dark in colour has aromas of chocolate orange, dried fruits and spices. This vintage is becoming increasingly rare and has a price tag of $23,000.
Rittenhouse 25 year old rye
Heaven Hill owner of the Rittenhouse brand is the largest family owned Whiskey distillery in America. Founded in Kentucky by the Shapira family, they are rumoured to be the seventh largest spirits supplier in the US, holding over one million barrels of aging bourbon whiskey.
The whiskey has been blended by the Beam family for six generations. The skill and craft has been passed from father to son over that time, with James Beauregard Beam being the original master distiller. Known by his friends as “Jim” he was responsible for the world famous “Jim Beam” label (now owned by Suntory Holdings in Japan)
Rittenhouse rye whiskey as its name suggests was a classic rye whiskey and is seen as a classic whiskey now enjoying something of a comeback. The 25 year old Rittenhouse was a single barrel edition. It was kept and aged in one of the coldest parts of the warehouse to allow an even maturing. The result is unique deep rich coloured liquor which has a sweet and spicy aroma. The taste reminds one of chocolate raisins, vanilla and sandalwood and reveals a spicy aftertaste. At only $1600 a bottle, this is a real steal.
Coleraine 1959 34 year old Irish Malt Whiskey
The Coleraine Distillery was set up in 1820. It was rebuilt from an abandoned mill in County Derry. At that time there were only two distilleries in Ireland and Coleraine quickly became the distillery of choice. In fact it became so popular that it was the only whiskey allowed to be drunk in the House of Commons in London. As a result it was allowed to include the initials HC on all of its bottles.
It was renowned for its triple distilling and the fact that the whole process from start to final bottling was carried out on the same site. No whiskey was bottled until it was at least ten years old.
Unfortunately after the owner Robert Taylor passed away in the early 1900’s the distillery fell into decline and after several periods of no whiskey being produced and the distillery being brought and sold, the Coleraine brand became extinct and the doors closed for the final time in 1978.
This has resulted in early bottles of coleraine Irish whiskeys becoming really sort after and therefore puts a premium on the label. The Coleraine 1959 was bottled in 1993 and is a clean single malt whiskey with no smoky taste, because the malt was dried using coal rather than peat as they do in Scotland
The price of a bottle is approximately $3400.
I hope you have found our search for the most expensive whiskey interesting. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a bottle, you can still enjoy some incredible whiskeys at a fraction of the price.