Pour, swivel, sniff and sip the most expensive whiskies in the world. While the word whisky usually conjures up images of wood panelled rooms and cigars, but, perhaps, images of piles of money, gold and silver would be more appropriate. The Macallans and Yamazakis of the world sell at colossal costs under the hammer.
Macallan Fine and Rare 1926
Price: $1.8 million
When it comes to holding the record for the most expensive whisky in the world, Macallan takes first place. The Guinness Book of World Records states that the most expensive whisky sold at auction is the Macallan Fine and Rare 1926 60-year-old. It was sold for $ 1,811,250, including premium, at Sotheby’s, London, on October 24, 2019. According to Sotheby’s, there are only 14 bottles of its kind ever made, contributing to the astronomical price. With the potential to have over forty-five 15ml pours, each pour comes up to almost $40,250! Macallan leads the way in pricy whisky, as the previous holder of this record was also a bottle of the world-famous brand’s scotch.
Price: $6.2 million
Over 5000 diamonds, about 250 rubies and the equivalent of two bars of white gold cover a single handmade decanter. It is the epitome of luxury in a bottle by Isabella’s Islay, crafted in the centre of the island of Islay. This original variant of the scotch maker’s whisky retails for almost $6.2 million. While the exact age of the single malt is unknown, scotch has never been this outrageously expensive or jewel studded.
Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series
Price: $1.52 million
Get the king, queen, jack, and ace for just $1.52 million. 54 bottles of Hanyu Ishiro’s Scotch-style malt whisky, each of which represents the playing cards in a full deck went under the hammer at Bonhams’ Fine & Rare Wine and Whisky auction in Hong Kong in November 2020. According to Bonhams, it set the world auction record for a whisky series. Founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, a 19th generation descendant of a long line of sake brewers producing Scotch-style malt whisky. The Hanyu distillery ceased production in 2000, but Akuto’s grandson Ichiro preserved 400 casks of premium whisky and personally selected whisky that would be used for each ‘card,’ which was then bottled and released between 2005-2014.
The Macallan M Imperiale
Handcrafted crystal holds 6 litres of liquid gold; Macallan M is one of the oldest and most expensive whiskies in the world. The multi-faceted decanter was designed by Lalique and created by 17 crafters, each taking more than 50 hours to craft. Out of 4 bottles by the luxury French glassmaker, 2 have been archived by The Macallan, one has been promised to a private collector in Asia and the last bottle was auctioned at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong in 2014, for $628,205. This fourth collector’s edition features the engraved autographs of the three principal creators – Lalique’s Silvio Denz, Fabien Baron and Bob Dalgarno, Macallan’s whisky maker.
Starting on a high note, distillery Nc’nean’s inaugural bottle was sold for £41,004 at an online auction. According to the Whisky Auctioneer, it set a new world record for a first bottle from a new distillery to be sold at auction. Nc’Nean was founded in 2012, with production starting in 2017 and its first whisky released in 2020. The zero-waste, fledgling distillery donated its first 10 bottles to an online charity auction via Whisky Auctioneer, the first of the lot selling for four times the price of the previous record for the most expensive first bottle from a distiller.
Old really fetches the price of gold. Yamazaki 55, the oldest Japanese whisky of its kind, was auctioned off by Bonhams Hong Kong in 2020. The Beam-Suntory’s Yamazaki whisky established a new auction record for a bottle of Japanese whisky. One of the 100 bottles was sold by the company via a special lottery open only to Japanese customers.
In 2018, Christie’s sold a Springbank 1919, a bottle of aged single malt scotch for $166,320. Only 24 bottles from the 1919 vintage single cask were bottled at the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown in 1970. This extremely rare 50-year-old whisky once held the Guinness world record for the most expensive whisky in the world.
One of the 12 bottles of the incredibly rare Dalmore 62 was sold in 2020 via a Sotheby’s auction. The Mackenzie family pioneered whisky was made in 1942. Each of the 12 bottles was given a unique name and Matheson is named after the founder of the Dalmore distillery Alexander Matheson, who started the distillery in 1839. The Cromarty, for Cromarty Firth, the beautiful waterbody that The Dalmore distillery overlooks and The Mackenzie, based on last long-term owners of The Dalmore distillery. Its decanter is made of platinum and crystal.
The Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection
Yet another Macallan makes it on the list of the most expensive whisky in the world. In April 2017, a set of six stunning crystal decanters filled with the rarest of The Macallan’s single malts, each aged from 50 to 65 years, sold at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. Almost resembling a work of art, the sought-after collection, marks the grand finale in the prestigious Six Pillars odyssey, an exclusive series of limited-edition decanters by The Macallan and master French crystal maker Lalique.
Old Orkney Real Liqueur Whisky
Miniature bottles raked in large prices at Whisky.Auction in 2019. Bottled in the 1920s-1930s, a 50ml miniature of Old Orkney ‘0.0’ Real Liqueur Whisky is believed to have set a record for the most expensive miniature sold at an auction. It was from the collection of 84 miniatures, in the custody of one lucky seller who paid only £100 for the entire lot during an auction in Brighton in 1979.