If you’re looking for a cheap hobby, getting into fine Scotch whisky is probably not your best move. I recommend scrimshaw, knitting, or collecting seashells instead. If, on the other hand, you fancy the idea of spending on a single sip enough money to buy a car, by all means, start sampling some of the most expensive — and arguably the finest — Scotches out there.
Today’s list features whiskies at various elevated price points; while compared to a perfectly decent bottle of Scotch in the $50 to $100 range, the $799 bottle of Laphroaig seems steep, by the end of the list you’ll think of it as an everyday whisky to be enjoyed on any occasion.
Laphroaig 28-Year-Old Single Malt – $799
As you would expect from any Laphroaig whisky, this Scotch, which went into the cask when I was in third grade, has a big peaty finish. What it has over many of the distillery’s other fine offerings is a richness and mellowness that allows for full flavor expression. None of the notes — which include honey, dried apricot, and a bit of anise — are overpowering; rather they work together on the nose and the sip, guiding you to a warm, long finish. I enjoyed a single finger of the stuff at a calculated $75. If that’s a bit rich for your blood, instead try their recently released Laphroaig Cairdeas Fino, which sells for $80 — well worth it given the double maturation in first fill bourbon and Fino Sherry casks.
Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish – $1,000
A perfect East meets West blending, this $1,000 bottle features single malt whisky distilled in Scotland and then aged in oak casks imported from Japan. It is a rich amber whisky with woody notes, vanilla, and a touch of fruity tang. The finish is smoky and spicy. Considering its 53.9 percent alcohol by volume, it’s a Scotch best mixed with a bit of water or ice. And considering the price, this bottle is best reserved for very special occasions indeed.
The Balvenie DCS Compendium 1961 – $35,000
This is not only a great Scotch, but a great story: the Compendium refers to a book written in serial form over the last few years by David C. Stewart, the distillery’s malt master. He is nearing retirement, after having worked for Balvenie for more than 54 years, and the book is part of his process of handing off his knowledge to the next generation of malt masters. In concert with the writing, Stewart has selected a few of Balvenie’s rarest, finest, and in this case oldest Scotches to be released in limited edition. The 1961 was matured in Sherry oak barrels and has a light floral aroma and a rich honey and caramel flavor.
Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection – $120,000
Now we enter into the realm of the wildly expensive Scotch. This whisky spent 64 years resting in the cask, after which, as Glenfiddich’s site puts it “the angels left only 61 bottles.” If you want one of the half dozen or so of those bottles still for sale, you will pay about the same as the price of a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo. The bouquet has been described as huge, with aromas of burnt heather, old books, oak, and fresh peat; the taste has been described as smooth and silky with coffee, toasted almond, toffee, and sugary notes. Apparently, the finish is long, warm, and woody. I can’t tell you personally though, because $120,000.
The Macallan 1926 – $600,000
On a single day last April, a bottle of The Macallan 1926 sold for $600,000. Also, a second bottle of the same booze sold for the same price. That’s right, an unnamed international businessman spent $1.2 million dollars on Scotch in one fell swoop. Distilled in 1926 and then aged for 60 years before being bottled in 1986, the whisky itself is only part of the story. The bottles feature artwork by Sir Peter Blake, best known for his design of the Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album jacket. For tasting notes, my guess is a bouquet of money.