Expecting a big tax return this year? Consider shelling out for some high-dollar hooch. These days, rare scotches are as good an investment as gold. These are eight of the most expensive Scotch whiskies recently released (including a collection of five bottlings), each one crafted from the very finest of malt and aged for a lot longer than whatever you have stashed at the back of your home bar. Let the dram dreaming begin!
If we look at the Glenfiddich 1973 cask 7585, released only in the U.S. and limited to between 130 and 140 bottles, you start to realize just how big a deal age is. This is an exquisite malt and something of an exception for Glenfiddich—it’s one of the oldest spirits the brand has ever released. The whisky has been matured in refill American oak casks and is full of oak wood tones. The nose opens with a blast of vanilla, and the palate is extremely sweet, with a long, lovely ride to a spicy, fruity finish.
Crafted by whisky legend Richard Paterson, this dram has had quite the journey. The maturation started off in ex-bourbon American white oak casks before being transferred to 30-year-old Gonzalez Byass Matusalem oloroso sherry butts. Lastly, it’s finished in first-fill bourbon barrels. Things get rolling with a big bouquet of dark coffee and dried fruit followed by a moist, chewy mouthfeel with honey and caramel notes and a finish that calls to mind orange and coconut.
Limited to only 42 decanters, this malt is bottled by British whisky specialists Gordon & MacPhail and has been aged to an incredible 70 years. If you’re lucky enough to ever lift a glass of this elegant liquid to your lips, expect an epic journey of deep, shifting flavors (caramel, brown sugar, orange, oak and spice). Also expect one hell of a credit card statement.
The Balvenie have been releasing collections of five whiskies every year as part of a project celebrating its longtime master blender David Stewart. The 1961 is the oldest bottle and has been matured in oloroso sherry European oak hogsheads. It has a floral and light nose, with caramel and honey coming through. These are followed by a palate of sugary sweetness. There’s plenty of vanilla and toffee, with a lasting note of oak and caramel.
The difference between The Balvenie’s 1961 and 1973 bottlings, besides 12 years and $20,000? The 1973 has more of a focus on oak flavor. Matured in European oak oloroso sherry casks, this scotch is smooth on the palate and alternates between dark chocolate bitterness and vanilla and oak flavors. The finish is wrapped up well with a slightly Christmas cake note.
More malted tones come from this 35-year-old expression, aged in refill American oak hogsheads. It marks the year that The Balvenie started using double wood maturation. The nose is soft, with hints of cereal and heather, but take a sip, and you’re greeted by thick flavors of vanilla, caramel and toffee. The finish focuses more on the fruits and malt, with a gentle nod toward spice.
This 23-year-old malt has a floral nose with lots of fresh fruits and caramel. The caramel lends a smooth mouthfeel on the palate, which is packed with deeper notes of oak and malt. The fruits really reveal themselves; citrus and apple blossom are especially evident and give the dram a nice bite. The finish is full of honey and petals, with a lasting note of citrus fruit.
This is a 13-year-old malt matured in European oak oloroso sherry butts. It marks the 30th anniversary of Stewart starting to work for the distillery, as well as the year the brand introduced The Balvenie Thirty. This dram is packed with orange and lemon from the very beginning. It is complex and sophisticated and can give the 55-year-old a run for its money. Berries and more fruits appear on the palate, with a lovely sherried spice to them. Cinnamon and nutmeg abound. It’s incredibly smooth and wonderful to taste. The finish rounds off with a lot more fruit and a delicate hint of spice.