What does a 55-year-old, $94 000 whisky taste like?
One recent morning I consumed more than $600 in whisky. It didn’t take long. One gulp, to be precise, though “gulp” might be an overstatement. The sample, drawn from a small vial, measured 5 millilitres, equal to 1/140th the size of a full bottle, hardly enough to stain the bottom of a glass and, more frustrating, barely sufficient to wet my tongue.
The wee dram in question: Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve, a 55-year-old rarity siphoned from a cask maturing in a Scottish warehouse since Rock Around the Clock hit the Billboard charts. It may be the finest whisky I’ve ever sniffed (more on that below). It’s certainly the most expensive. Of 11 hand-blown bottles produced for the public, seven have hit the auction block, reaching a high of $94,000 (U.S.) for one sold at a charity event on New York’s Liberty Island in March.
Glenfiddich laid claim to the world auction record for that one, though the distinction depends on how one defines “bottle.” Earlier this year, the Guinness Book people certified that the high-water mark for whisky was reached in 2010 with a $460,000 Macallan 64-year-old. But that was a twofer, presented in a custom Lalique crystal decanter with ornate detailing to rival the Taj Mahal.
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