Costing more than a luxury Mercedes Benz for just one bottle, Scotch is a true collectors item. To track down that purest-form product of single malt Scotch Whisky in its most expensive bottles, we researched the findings of numerous Scotch experts, including distillery owners, auction-house specialists and spirits sommeliers. Following are the world's most expensive Scotches.
$415 per 2-ounce pour
This rare single malt was produced at a distillery that was shut down in 1975. At StripSteak in Las Vegas, a dram of Kinclaith goes for $415. StripSteak’s Patric Yumul says the Kinclaith is “oily and perfumey, with a dry, long, hot finish.”
Ladybank, located near the Scottish village of Fife, offers part ownership in its distillery to a limited number of members for 50 years (along with 6 bottles of Ladybank’s own Single Malt Scotch during each of those years). But members will have to exercise some patience—after construction is completed later this year or early next, the first batch will be distilled, and ready for pouring about seven years after that. While Ladybank’s price per bottle may not touch some of the others on our list, the singularity does. “We’re pledging exclusivity to our members, and the members are pledging loyalty to our project,” said Ladybank CEO James Thomson, who explains that members will gain a “backstage trip through the entire distillery set-up.” They’ll also be able to offer input on production and drop in to Ladybank’s visitor rooms, dining facility and five-star brew pub.
Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan writes of the oldest Bruichladdich, “The mouthfeel is succulent soft fudge and exotic yellow fruits with a twist of lime and grapefruit, and is sublimely smooth.” Five hundred bottles exist worldwide, and list at Bruchladdich for £999, or about $1,970.
This special batch of Bowmore was poured into oak casks in 1957. Thirty-eight years later, the company explains, "The spirit was found sitting just above the critical 40% alcoholic volume strength for Scotch Whisky and so [the distillery manager] moved with haste to have the whisky bottled. If he had waited a moment longer, the whisky would have become extinct, and a piece of history wiped out forever." Mark Cassidy, a Scotch specialist at the Whisky Shop in San Francisco, says he believes their bottle of Bowmore 1957, priced at $2,300, is the only one for sale in the western United States.
Only 5,812 bottles of this Islay treasure were produced. Today they retail for the price of a good used car. Bowmore describes what that dear price tag delivers: "On the palate, the concentration of flavours is mind boggling. They gently roll over the tongue like waves to the shore." Drop by the Park Avenue Liquor shop and pick up a bottle for a soothing $6,000.
Martin Green of McTear’s auction house says two bottles of the 50-year-old Macallan have sold recently for £4,400 and £6,000 (or $8,700 and $11,900).
David Stewart, The Balvenie Malt Master, writes of this 50-year-aged Scotch: "The Balvenie Cask 191 Single Malt Scotch Whisky has a complex nose, intense with toffee, marzipan, sweet oak, raisins and nuts. The depth of flavor is astonishing, developing from butterscotch to clover, honey, liquorice and chocolate—elegantly balanced with drying oak and spice.” Where available, this heady smorgasbord retails for around $13,000 a bottle.
In April 2006, a bottle of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 sold at auction in New York for $20,000. The prized liquid hails from a single oak cask that slumbered in a dunnage warehouse at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland for 64 years before it was bottled in 2001.
If you happen to cross paths with the anonymous buyer of this £25,877.50 ($51,000) bottle, here are Dalmore Master Blender Richard Paterson's suggestions for tasting: Prepare the palate with a cup of warm Colombian coffee and milk; let the noble spirit drift over the tongue; finish with a bitter-chocolate such as Cote d'Or or Godiva. "The combination of coffee, The Dalmore and the bitter chocolate," says Paterson, "will ensure the experience is unforgettable."
In 2005 a South Korean businessman paid 70 million Korean won (about $75,000) for a 1926 bottle from The Macallan’s "Fine and Rare" range. “The actual purchase took place at the liquor retail store, Interbang, in the upmarket Gangnam area of Seoul," according to a statement from Macallan. "However, the precious bottle was safely stored elsewhere in a safe and only released when full payment was received.”