The priciest vintages for whiskey connoisseurs
Words by Ankita Bhowmick in The Lifestyle · Feb 19th, 2019
The distilled alcoholic beverage of whiskey is made from fermented grain mash. Grains such as barley, corn, rye and wheat are generally used in the process. It is interesting to know that during the 18th century in America, whiskey was a preferred currency among Pennsylvania residents. What is more interesting is that most of the expensive bottles of whiskey are priced high not just due to their age, quality or taste, but due to the casks that contain them.
Let us have a look at the 10 most expensive bottles of whiskey in the world in 2023.
1. Isabella's Islay Usd 6,200,000
A bottle of Isabella's Islay is the most expensive whiskey that money can buy. The price tag of more than 6 million dollars that comes with a bottle of this whiskey is because of the decanter that contains it. It features 8,500 diamonds, 300 rubies and exquisite white gold. Talking about the whiskey, it is one of the finest ever and is the epitome of luxury scotch whiskey.
2. The Emerald Isle Collection Usd 2 Million
Sold in February 2021, The Emerlad Isle Collection was sold in a box containing seven pieces including the 30-year old whiskey, a bespoke Fabergé Celtic Egg handcrafted from emerald and 18-karat gold, a Faberge 22k gold timepiece, and a Cohiba Siglo VI Grand Reserva cigar with gold-plated cutter. It was created by the Irish Bradley family and was sourced using the rarest and oldest triple distilled whiskey from the world's oldest distillery in Bushmill, Ireland and placed in a Pedro Ximenez cask. Craft Irish Whiskey Co. is known for producing high-quality Irish whiskeys, adhering to the traditional methods of Irish whiskey-making. Irish whiskey is typically triple-distilled, resulting in a smoother and lighter flavor profile compared to other types of whiskey. It is also typically made from a mix of malted and unmalted barley, giving it a distinctive character.
3. The Macallan 1926 Usd 1.9 Million
In 2019, a 60 year old bottle of Macallan was bought at a Sotheby's auction for US$ 1.9 million. Originally distilled in 1926, it was sold in its original cask no.263. This was the first bottle that featured a hand-painted design by Irish artist Michael Dillon, and was part of the 'The Macallan Fine and Rare' collection. It is dubbed as "the holy grail of whiskey". After being aged in sherry casks for six decades, just 40 bottles of The Macallan 1926 were bottled, representing the oldest Macallan vintage ever produced.
4. The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926 Usd 1.53 Million
Hand-painted by Irish painter Michael Dillion and commissioned by Fortnum & Mason, this 60-year old whiskey was released in 1999 and sold at a Christie's auction in November 2018 for US$1.53 million. The art depicts the iconic Easter Elchies House of The Macallan and the breathtaking Scottish Highlands. It comes in a luxurious wooden presentation case labeled "The Macallan 60 Year Old," complete with a certificate of authenticity from The Macallan, ensuring its provenance and uniqueness.. Also belonging to the famous cask 263 (like the above), this particular one also receives much of its value due to the illustration. This bottle is the only one of its kind when it comes to design.
The Macallan is renowned among whisky aficionados as the ultimate collectible, crafting exquisite cask-matured single malts from Speyside. Their prized possessions include highly sought-after limited edition bottlings and the exclusive Fine & Rare Collection. Taking rarity to an even greater height is The Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926, considered the 'Ultimate Goal' for any Macallan whisky collector.
A mere 40 bottles were filled from cask 263, after the spirit matured for 60 years in ex-sherry casks, making it the most exceptional and collectible single malt of the 20th century. Notably, this extraordinary whisky attracted the artistic talents of Peter Blake, the creative mind behind the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, and Valerio Adami. Each artist designed a label for this special bottling, resulting in 12 individually numbered bottles from each artist. However, a little-known secret is that one bottle of this ultra-rare elixir was meticulously hand-painted by the renowned Irish artist Michael Dillon, famed for his historical decorations. In 1999, this uniquely adorned bottle was commissioned and offered for sale exclusively through Fortnum & Mason in London.
The Macallan 1926 60-Year-Old Michael Dillon bottle is considered truly the 'Holy Grail' for whisky collectors, as it stands alone as a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
5. Hanyu Ichiro's Full Card Series Usd 1.52 Million
Granted that they receive a hefty amount of US$1.53 million for 54 bottles, however these bottles are truly of value in a set and so was sold in that format. The only Japanese whiskey created in a Scotch-style malt on this list, the Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series comprises 54 bottles, each representing a playing card in a deck (including two joker cards).
The Hanyu distillery no longer operational, which adds to the rarity of this collection. Founded in 1941 by Isouji Akuto, his grandson only managed to conserve 400 casks of the whisky from this particular distillery, out of which he taste-tested and hand-selected 54 individual whiskies for each playing card. This set of whiskey was released between 2005 and 2014 and was finally sold for the amount of US$1.53 million at a Bonhams’s Fine & Rare Wine and Whisky auction in Hong Kong in 2020. Before being sold at the auction, the set was on display at a Japanese and Scotch whiskey bar in Hong Kong called Club Qing.
6. The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 Usd 1.1 Million
With only 12 of its kind in the world designed and crafted with pop artist Valerio Adami, this whiskey's decanter is placed in a special cabinet. Distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, it is estimated to have a price tag of US$ 1.1 million and was last sold through an auction at Bonham's in 2020 when a famous whiskey collector from Colorado called Richard Gooding passed away and his collection was auctioned off. It is believed out of the remaining 11 that remain, one was destroyed in an earthquake and the other has been drunk. The one that was sold was bottle no.5.
7. The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 Us$1.04 Million
The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 had a cask seasoned with sherry. It was bottled in 1926 and aged in the Speyside distillery for 60 years until 1986. Out of 40 bottles, 24 were dressed in labels by famous artists (Valerio Adami and Michael Dillon included, two bottles featuring labels designed by these artists have fetched over US$1 million in the past year), one bottle was commissioned to be painted, while two were auctioned in blank bottles. The remaining 14 were to be offered as part of Macallan’s vintage release program.The first release of the 12 bottles was in 1993, and to reflect the exclusivity of the single malt, The Macallan teamed up with pop artist Sir Peter Blake (best known for his design of the album cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) to design the label, making it truly valuable. In May 2018, one of the 12 The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 60 Year Old whiskies came up for auction at Bonhams in Hong Kong and sold for approximately US$1.04 million (it was bottle no.8).
8. The Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection Usd 993,000
Designed by French glassmaker and jeweler Lalique, The Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection is a set of six stunning crystal decanters (called the Six Pillars odyssey) containing some of the rarest of The Macallan’s single malts aged from 50 to 65 years old. Each of the six sought-after limited-edition decanters had originally been single releases and are the product of a decade-long collaboration between The Macallan and Lalique. The bottles are housed in a bespoke natural ebony cabinet that also holds six miniatures and six pairs of Lalique Macallan glasses. It came up for auction in April 2017 at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, where we saw it sell for US$993,000. Part of the proceeds of the sale were sent to Asian charities.
9. The Macallan Red Collection Usd 975,756
10. The Macallan M Usd 628,205
The 6 litre bottle of The Macallan M is one of the oldest and most expensive whiskeys in the world. The decanter that contains it is made up of handcrafted crystal and was designed and created by 17 crafters. The last bottle of The Macallan M was sold at an auction in Hong Kong for USD 628,205, with the proceeds going to several Hong Kong charities. They are aged in Spanish Oak for 25 to over 75 years.