Though there are plenty of affordable whiskies out there, there’s a reason why these spirits earned the ‘golden liquid’ moniker—the more lavish collection can rack up a fortune fit to feed a family of 20 for a few years. We’re talking about prices that go up to the millions range.
Whether you’re a collector yourself or simply bemused over rich people’s hobbies, we’ve put together a list of seven of the most expensive whiskies in the world below for all of us to ogle over. From the perennial Dalmore, to the unparalleled Isabella’s Islay and opulent Macallans, who would have thought that some grains, water, and a wooden barrel could amount to an elixir so luxurious, we’d cry out in pain and regret if we spilled even a single drop of these.
1. Isabella’s Islay — $6.2 million
Photo from Isabella's Islay.
The Isabella’s Islay needs no introduction. With a whopping price tag of around $6.2 million, the 30-year-old Single Malt scotch screams extravagance from top to bottom, in and out.
Firstly, the whisky is housed in a decanter made of English crystal that’s studded with 8,500 diamonds and 300 rubies (placed one by one by London’s leading jewellers), then further topped with a stopper that’s made of the highest grade of white gold. Some would go as far to say that it is one of the most impressive liquor bottles in history.
The Isabella’s Islay is not just all style, and no substance, by the way. It’s not just the British craftsmanship that’s resplendent, its content—the whisky itself—is a phenomenal expression of Islay dram. Made by the Luxury Beverage Company of the United Kingdom, the cask-strength scotch is reportedly an astoundingly fine whisky boasting the highest quality in the industry.
2. Macallan 1926 — $1.9 million
Photo from Robb Report.
As part of Macallan’s limited edition series, the Macallan Fine and Rare 1926 was sold at a staggering $1.9 million at an auction. With a label like “Fine and Rare”, it doesn’t come off as a surprise that this exclusive whisky also comes in a one-of-a-kind bottle designed by renowned artists and painters.
The bottle is hand-painted by acclaimed Irish artist Michael Dillon, and designed by distinguished Italian painter Valerio Adam, together with Sir Peter Thomas Blake, the co-creator of the sleeve design for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
Meanwhile, the premium whisky is an accolade all on its own, too. Distilled in 1926, the spirit was aged in European oak in the Macallan distillery in Scotland for 60 years before it was bottled in 1986. With only 24 bottles available worldwide and each one painstakingly hand-painted by Dillon, the Macallan 1926 is truly the epitome of a rarity.
3. Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 — $1.5 million
Photo from The Economic Times.
Almost uncanny to the Macallan 1926 above, the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 is also one of the most expensive whiskies sold. With a $1.5 million price stamped on it and a mere inventory consisting of just 12 bottles, the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 sure isn’t your average commercial bottle. In fact, the decanter demands a spot in a special cabinet to protect its exclusivity and reverence.
As its name suggests, the bottle is also designed by Valerio Adami himself. Taste wise, as you can imagine, you won’t be able to actually meet many people who have the privilege to savour it, so it’s hard to get a concorded account.
David Robertson, master distiller at Macallan from the mid-’90s through the mid-2000s, being one of the lucky few who have tried it, described the Macallan Valerio Adami 1926’s profile as intense and dry, with some hints of fruits and spices. Guess the rest of us will just have to use our imagination knowing that.
4. Macallan M — $628,205
Photo from Whisky.my.
Wow it seems like the Macallans are dominating this list and are well on their way to becoming the most expensive whisky brand. No surprise though, as Macallan whiskies are luxurious spirits highly sought-after by collectors.
Approximately priced at $628,205, the Macallan M is a six-litre Single Malt aged in Spanish oak casks for 70 years. It takes on a fruity flavour, with notes of raisins, apple, cedar, and lemon.
And of course, the bottle has to live up to its value, too. The Macallan M’s super sleek and unique bottle is a masterpiece designed by celebrated art director Fabien Baron, together with Lalique crystal. Did you know that it took 17 craftsmen to create the bottle? Talk about an intricate and exhaustive work of art.
5. Macallan 64 Lalique Cire Perdue — $460,000
Photo from Luxuo.
Yet another Macallan, this time sold for $460,000 at an auction by Sotheby in New York. The Macallan 64 Lalique Cire Perdue is a Single Malt originating from the Speyside distillery. Aged in sherry-seasoned Spanish oak casks, the spirit is a product of three blends from 1942, 1945, and 1946.
The Macallan 64 Lalique Cire Perdue is a complex and rich whisky masking a multitude of flavour profiles and notes. One can expect to taste hints of cinnamon, cedarwood, peat smoke, orange peel, walnuts, and cocoa—an explosion of flavours indeed.
Following its namesake, the decanter is produced in collaboration with Lalique using the cire perdue method. For the uninitiated, cire perdue, also known as the “lost wax” method is an ancient practice of bronze casting using a mould. The wax would first be melted in the mould, then drained out. Bronze would then be poured into the now empty space, resulting in a hollow bronze figure when the core is discarded.
6. Dalmore 62 — $192,000
Photo from ScotchWhisky.
“A whisky of legendary depth and finesse,” that’s what the Dalmore brand is known for. If you’re a whisky aficionado, you would surely know that Dalmore is widely renowned for their multi cask maturation. Their casks are hand picked from the world's finest bodegas and wineries, and then skillfully curated to create whiskies that are exquisitely layered with extraordinary artistry.
This Dalmore 62 in particular, is a single highland malt scotch Matheson that boasts centuries old. Four Single Malts from the year 1868, 1876, 1926, and 1939 were blended together to birth this pièce de résistance.
Its decanter is made from crystal and platinum, and the mould that was used to create the decanter apparently took 100 hours of labour. With only 12 bottles produced, you know that this is no child’s play.
7. Dalmore 64 Trinitas — $160,000
Photo from The Moodie Davitt Report.
Even rarer than the Dalmore 62, the Dalmore 64 Trinitas only had three bottles available for sale. It also comprises blended whiskies that were aged from 1868, 1878, 1926, and 1939.
Flavour profiles and notes include raisins, walnuts, bitter orange, grapefruit, Colombian coffee, and white musk. On the palate though, you’ll taste mangoes, figs, and caramelised apples during the first sip, then hints of marzipan, licorice, toffee, and roasted coffee during the finish.
While the bottle is not as grandiose as all the other whiskies above, Dalmore’s signature logo and the gorgeous mahogany shade make a striking presence on their own.
Most expensive whiskies are a whole other (high)ball game
As with all the finer things in life, the perceived value of an item is often subjective and unique to an individual’s judgment and circumstances. Some of us may gawk at the prices above because let’s face it, they do cost an arm and a leg (perhaps more since we have to convert them to Malaysian Ringgit, too), but for some true whisky devotees and collectors, these extremely rare and premium drams are well worth the investment for posterity and a sense of fulfilment. We say all power to them.