Whisky is undeniably very popular, and there are many premium whisky brands. But some rare whiskies come with astronomical price tags that are often out of reach for the average whisky enthusiasts. Such bottles can only be found at private auctions before disappearing again into private collections. Today we will cover five of the most expensive whiskies sold in the past 10 years!
The Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926
The Macallan is rightly considered by whisky aficionados as the most highly collectible whisky, producing some of the rarest and most expensive whiskies.
However, The Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926 takes this rarity to a higher level. It's the 'Ultimate Goal' for collectors who prefer The Macallan brand. In 1926, when cask #263 was filled, there would have been no thought of leaving it to age for six decades.
But, after 60 years in ex-sherry casks, it went before the nosing panel and was to the owners' delight approved for bottling!
Soon afterward, 40 total bottles came from cask 263—which is now popularly referred to as the "Holy Grail" of whisky. Peter Blake, the maker of the album cover of the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, designed the label for 12 of the bottles.
In 1993 Italian artist Valerio Adami was asked to design the label for 12 more bottles. Less well-known was that one bottle of this ultra-rare elixir hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon, famous for his historical decorations.
The bottle, which beautifully depicts the Easter Elchies House of The Macallan and the Scottish Highlands, was offered in a luxurious "The Macallan 60-Year-Old" wooden presentation case with an authenticity certificate from The Macallan.
Macallan has been enjoying a phenomenal run at auction in recent years, with the last decade seeing several bottles of the famed cask 263 break records in private auctions.
A bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old was sold at Bonhams, Hong Kong, on May 18th, 2018, for a whopping $1,100,196! In the same year, the only bottle designed by Michael Dillon was sold for $1,528,800 in a London auction. It's bound that these bottles from the one of a kind cask 263 will only go on to set new records.
In case you were wondering, it is not known how many of them still exist. One is said to have been destroyed in an earthquake in Japan in 2011, and at least one of the bottles has been opened and consumed.
A bottle of Yamazaki 50-year-old now holds the record of the most expensive bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold! A buyer bought it at Sotheby's, Hong Kong for HK$2,337,000 (approx. $370,000) on January 27th, 2018.
The bottle was offered an opening bid of HK$650,000(approx. $84,000) and saw strong interest from both bidders in the room and telephone bidders. Soon after the price reached HK$1m, only telephone bidders stayed in the bidding battle.
The winning bidder was an Asian collector who ended up purchasing the world's most expensive standard sized bottle of Japanese whisky.
Just a year later, a second bottle of the same whisky was sold in Taipei for NT$13.51m (about US$429,798), shattering the previous world record.
The record-breaking bottle of Yamazaki 50-year-old, is one of just 150 bottles released in 2011, was further distinguished by being signed by Suntory's master blender, Shinji Fukuyo.
The Yamazaki 50-year-old has a rich history behind it, with the Yamazaki distillery, founded in 1923, being Japan's first commercial whisky distillery.
Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 1955
Glenfiddich had a barrel of Scotch whisky that has been aging since New Year's Eve of 1955. When Janet Sheed Roberts, the granddaughter of Glenfiddich's founder William Grant, passed away at 110 in 2012, the company decided to honor her by making 15 bottles from the 57-year-old barrel. Only 11 bottles were ever released, celebrating each decade of her remarkable life. The family kept the remaining four. A whisky connoisseur from Atlanta bought one of the 11 bottles for $94,000 during an auction.
Glenfiddich describes the whisky as "Orange blossom, and violets fold into toasted almonds with a modicum of smoke. Creamy vanilla and a drifting smoke beautifully balance with sweeter oak notes."
Hanyu Ichiro Card Series
The collection comprises 54 bottles, each representing a playing card in a deck of cards. The full set was bottled by the grandson of the now-closed Hanyu distillery founder.
After the distillery's closure in 2000, Ichiro Akuto, grandson of Isouji Akuto, stepped in and secured the remaining 400 casks and hand-picked the whisky to be bottled for each 'card' released between 2005 and 2014.
This gives each bottle its own unique flavor and taste.
It is believed that no more than four sets of Full Card Series exist in the world.
In 2015, the 54-bottle full card series fetched HK$3,797,500 (approx. $490,000), setting a world record for the most expensive whisky lot sold at auction. In 2019, the record was broken with another full set sold for HK$7.19 million (US$917,000) to a female Asian collector, almost doubling its previous price.
Black Bowmore 1964
The Black Bowmore 1962 is described as “a whisky with complex aromas of ripe tropical fruit, orange peel, and rich black cherry, with a heavier palate of chocolate, espresso coffee, mango and passion fruit, with a subtly spicy finish.”
It’s arguably one of most famous and sought after single malt whisky ever produced. In 2016, 159 bottles were made available globally after being aged for a full 50 years. Each bottle comes in an exquisite design with a silver neckpiece, Scottish-oak stopper is packed in a Scottish-oak cabinet.
This is the only whisky on the list that you might not need to get your way into a private auction. But that’s only if you have $35,000 to spare and time to scour the internet for someone willing to sell you one of the 159 bottles.
As you might have noticed, this list only has Scotch and Japanese whisky. This is because the two have dominated whiskey auctions in the past decade. The fight for the world's most expensive whisky currently lies with The Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926, but who knows for how long this will last. But if and when a new winner emerges, you can trust us to be there to keep you updated.