While it’s fairly common to find high-end spirits -- like luxury vodkas, gins, rums,
and tequilas -- at your local liquor store, few cross the barrier into the realm
of the ridiculously expensive.
Whisky, on the other hand, has such a rich history and diverse character that some
of its higher-end bottles play on a level that other spirits can’t match. With that
in mind, here are five of the finest -- top-shelf and ultra-expensive -- bottles
of luxury whiskies on the market today.
While none of the luxury whiskies on this list are as expensive as the $38,000 bottle
of The Macallan 60 Years Old Fine & Rare Whisky -- which is, sadly, sold out -- more
than a few will set you back a few dollars.
If, by the way, you’re interested in a taste of The Macallan 60 Year Old Whisky,
head down to the Old Homestead Steakhouse in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic
City. But bring your wallet: a wee dram will set you back $3,300.
Midleton Very Rare
$139 per 700 ml bottle
As its name suggests, Midleton Very Rare is one of Ireland’s rarest whiskeys and
one of the most expensive Irish whiskeys on the market.
Made from a blend of 12- and 25-year-old whiskeys, and aged in only a few carefully
selected bourbon barrels, this bottle can range from good to brilliant, and there
is a noticeable difference between bottles from one year to the next.
Normally, Midleton Very Rare is characterized by a spicy aroma and notes of ginger
and vanilla. On the tongue, you can pick up light, sweet notes that are not unlike
nut cake or fresh peaches. In a good year, this is easily one of Ireland’s finest
whiskeys -- and even if the vintage wasn’t so great, you won’t be disappointed.
Glenfiddich 40 Year Old
$2,500 per 700 ml bottle
At Whisky Magazine’s 2003 blind taste testing, Glenfiddich’s 40 Year Old was judged
the world’s finest single malt. More than that, it was judged best-in-class at the
2007 International Wine & Spirit Competition. This is truly a world-class winner
among luxury whiskies.
As it’s a Speyside whisky -- and the world’s most expensive at that -- it’s loaded
with all those beautiful intangibles that make these luxury whiskies great. Apart
from that, being aged for 40 years helps improve the flavour considerably.
Only 600 bottles of this beauty were ever produced, so it’s as rare as it is brilliant.
Glenfiddich’s 40 Year Old is slow to develop in the glass, so let it rest for a moment
or two -- if you can wait that long. On the tongue, you’ll quickly appreciate why
this is one of the world’s finest whiskies. It’s very deep and complex, with notes
of honey and a wonderful, long, dry, smoky, peaty finish.
We have three more luxury whiskies to fill your dram with…
Bruichladdich 40 Year Old
$2,500 per 700 ml bottle
Bruichladdich’s 40 Year Old vintage not only has the distinction of being the distillery’s
oldest product, it’s also the most expensive Islay whisky you’ll find on the market
today, if you can find it, that is -- only 500 bottles were produced.
This is a pleasantly mild whisky, but don’t make the mistake of assuming that means
it’s without taste -- this is one of the more complex bottles that you’re likely
to find, and it’s packed with nuanced flavours.
On the nose you’ll pick up butterscotch, mint, maple syrup, and oak, as well as sweet,
dark vanilla, poached pear, and cinnamon -- it’s just loaded with great flavour combinations.
On the tongue, look for a great, soft feel with notes of toasted oak, yellow fruits,
lime, and grapefruit. Not surprisingly, Bruichladdich’s 40 Year Old is smooth beyond
belief with a nice, mellow finish.
Glen Garioch, 1958, 46 Year Old
$2,600 per 700 ml bottle
There’s a good reason why you may have never heard of Glen Garioch: The distiller
keeps a low profile and the quality of its malts have varied quite a bit through
the years. Real aficionados, however, will tell you that some of Glen Garioch’s older
malts are among the best ever produced.
In keeping with that idea, we present the Glen Garioch, 1958, 46 Year Old vintage.
The distiller made only 328 bottles of this little bottle of magic, and its rarity
and price tag make it the most expensive Highland whisky in the world.
In the best highland-malt tradition, this one is characterized with fruit and floral
notes, with just a hint of peat. It’s sophisticated and complex, and worth the time
and cost to savour.
The Macallan Fine & Rare Collection, 1939,
40 Years Old
$10,125 per 700 ml bottle
The Macallan Fine & Rare 40 Year Old replaces the 60 Year Old vintage as the most
expensive bottle on the market today.
This vintage was first bottled in 1979, hence the 40-year-old designation. In 2002,
Macallan rebottled its entire Fine & Rare collection for consistency of appearance.
On the nose, this one starts with notes of orange and rich, dried fruit, like dates
and prunes. You’ll also pick up notes of treacle and vanilla toffees with just a
hint of peat. On the tongue, look for rich peat and powerful woodsy tastes that are
pleasantly offset by notes of sweet toffee and fruit.
Sure, $10,000 seems like a lot for a bottle of whisky, but when you taste this one,
you might forget the price for just a moment.
A dram of the best damn whisky
There you have it: a handful of luxury whiskies with price tags to match. Whisky
has a special place in spirit drinkers’ hearts, and these bottles are sure to warm
the body and soul.