High-end whiskey is a coveted, savory collectible that ranges anywhere between $100,000 and $6,200,000 with Isabella’s Islay taking first place, each bottle having something unique to offer, such as diamond-encrusted bottles, coming with a gold watch, or having hand-painted bottles.
In this article, we will look at the top 20 most expensive whisky expression in the world, why they’re expensive, and how luxurious they taste.
Sipping this Article:
- The Most Expensive Whisky – The Top 20
- The Top 20 of the Most Expensive Whisky of the World
- Isabella Islay
- The Emerald Isle Collection
- Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series
- The Macallan Most Expensive Whisky
- Yamazaki 55 Years Old Single Malt Whisky
- Balvenie 50 Years Old Single Malt Whisky
- Glenfiddich Most Expensive Whisky
- Dalmore Most Expensive Expressions
- What Makes Whisky So Expensive?
The prices tagged to these brands are pegged on the age, unique taste and rarity.
To know which takes the spot of the most expensive whisky, you have to look at our list and decide (based on your reason to get one) which bottle is best placed to help you mark that special occasion!
- Isabella’s Islay – $6,200,000
- The Emerald Isle Collection – $2,000,000
- The Macallan 1926 -$1,900,000
- The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926 – $1,530,000
- Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series – $1,520,000
- The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 – $1,100,000
- The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 – $1,040,000
- The Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection – $993,000
- The Macallan Red Collection – $975,756
- The Yamazaki 55 Year Old Single Malt Whisky – $935,398
- The Macallan M – $628,205
- Dalmore 62 Year Old Single Malt – $250,000
- The Macallan ‘Tales of The Macallan Volume I’ 71 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $232,569
- The Macallan Lalique 50 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $193,115
- The Macallan Anniversary Malt 50 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $186,030
- The Macallan Lalique 55 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $172,893
- The Macallan Lalique 57 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $171,975
- Dalmore 64 Years Old Trinitas – $160,000
- The Macallan Lalique 62 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $145,394
- The Macallan Lalique IV 60 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $132,980
- The Macallan ‘The Red Collection’ 78-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $131,568
- The Macallan Lalique 72 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky – $123,880
- Glenffidich 1937 – $120,000
- Glenfiddich Whisky Janet Sheed Roberts – $94,000
- Balvenie 50 Years Old Single Malt Whisky – $50,000
The bottle for this whisky is the reason why it fetches a staggering $6.2 million. The whiskey bottle is encrusted with white gold, 8,500 diamonds, and 300 rubies and almost two bars of white gold, making this bottle a wonder to behold. It remains as the worlds most expensive whiskey brand.
The Isabella Islay Expression – The Most Expensive Whisky in the world
Isabella’s Islay’s cask-strength scotch, according to the makers on their official website, tastes like “hot-buttered-toasty soot and woodsmoke… [with a] silky mouthfeel whisky… [balanced] with notes of fresh barley, the texture is delicate and plush…”
The Emerald Isle Collection contains seven pieces that, in turn, make it a collectible masterpiece that is worth so much. It contains:
- A 30-year-old whiskey bottle key piece.
- A Fabergé Celtic Egg made of emerald, diamonds, and 18-karat yellow gold.
- A 22k rose gold Fabergé watch.
- A Cohiba Siglo VI Grand Reserva cigar.
What Does The Emerald Isle Collection Whiskey Taste Like?
Matured in American bourbon barrels and then finished in rare sherry casks, the entire maturation process took 36 years, adding to a rich and exotic flavor that the official maker’s website claims to have imbued the whiskey with an “unforgettable intensity of flavor.” This is also the oldest triple distilled Irish Whiskey ever produced.
They also describe the flavor of The Emerald Isle Collection whiskey with a base of “butter toffee and chocolate fudge… [with] hints of brine and tobacco”, a palette of “leather-bound books with a hint of tobacco smoke” and finishing off with “creamy meringue and vanilla cigar smoke.”
Coming in a set of 54 bottles, this exclusive whisky is styled after 54 cards in a playing deck (including two jokers). Each whisky tastes different and is the only Japanese whisky made in a scotch-style malt that’s become so successful.
Due to the fact that the Hanyu Distillery is no longer operational, this whiskey is even rarer with only 400 casks ever created, which were then taste-tested and bottled in 54 different whiskeys, each type of whiskey for each playing card.
Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series Whisky – The Rarity and Variety
There isn’t a lot of information on this whisky due to its rarity and a large amount of variety. However, for an upcoming taste-testing, whisky expert Stefan Van Eycken mentioned on The Whiskey Wash that the taste of the Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series is “unlike any other whisky you’ve tasted before.”
He went on to describe its taste to be filled with “fresh and ripe fruits, colorful root vegetables, both brown and white sugar, and some exotic spices.”
Made into only 40 bottles, this exclusive – and one of the most expensive whisky bottles – Scotch went on further to push its rarity and made a single bottle hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon in 1999. It features one of the foundational Six Pillars, Easter Elchies House, and is known as the ‘holy grail’ of whiskies.
The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926 Whisky – The Flavours of Rarity
The new-make Macallan spirit was placed in a sherry seasoned cask and matured for 60 years, making it a unique rarity.
The creators describe the taste with a nose of “rich dark dried fruits… with wonderfully woody spices and treacle toffee”, a palette of “resinous wood… with medium treacle toffee and rich dried fruits” and a finish of “drying wood [and] dark dried fruit.”
After the first 12 were commissioned to be labeled by Peter Blake, a further 12 were hand-painted by Italian painter Valerio Adami. These rare bottles were released in 1993, and come in and out of the public eye during auctions throughout the years.
The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 Whisky Taste
Coming from the same cask as The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926, this taste is described as full of “rich dark dried fruits” and “woody spices.”
The first 12 out of the 40 bottles of this exclusive whiskey were given a very special partnership with Sir Peter Blake, released in 1989. He was commissioned to create 12 uniquely designed labels for the bottles.
In collaboration with French crystal maker Lalique over 12 years, The Macallan made a series of limited edition decanters, creating one of the most expensive whisky collections. Each decanter was inspired by the Six Pillars of the character of The Macallan:
- Easter Elchies House, The Macallan spiritual home;
- Curiously Small Stills, said to give the ‘new-make’ more contact with the copper;
- Finest Cut, only the best is offered from The Macallan’s stills;
- Exceptional Oak Casks which account for 80% of The Macallan’s full flavor;
- Natural Color without any artificial colors added, with consistent color maintained with every bottle;
- Peerless Spirit with defining mastery.
Each decanter is a unique and flawless work of design housing some of the world’s rarest single malt whiskies.
The Macallan In Lalique 50 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Macallan In Lalique 64-Year-Old is one of the rarest and one of the most expensive whisky expression of the brand, since the collectable scotch whiskey bottlen was sold for 460,000 in 2010 in an auction at Sotheby’s New York.
Rare in only having 470 of these whiskeys ever released, this 50-year-old malt is the first decanter in the Lalique Six Pillars Collection, drawing inspiration from the exceptional oak casks The Macallan uses. Wood patterns are intricately carved into the crystal, highlighting The Macmallan’s mastery of oak.
The Macallan In Lalique 55 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
With only 420 of these decanters ever made, this whisky is inspired by Lalique’s Paquerettes tiara perfume bottle, housing the spirit in varying shades of amber to showcase The Macallan’s natural color. The unique and large stopper showcases Lalique’s crystal master as the shape is almost impossible for crystal makers to create.
The Macallan describes this whisky’s first taste as “polished oak… sweet dried fruits, citrus and… peat smoke” with a palette of “sun dried raisins and orange zest” and a finish with “[softness], citrus and peat smoke.”
The Macallan Lalique 57 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
With 400 of these decanters available worldwide, this unique Art Deco-style geometric decanter was first released in 2009. The Pillar embodiment behind this whisky is ‘Fine Cut’ and is a testament to The Macallan’s promise to only use the finest cut of ‘new make’, noted in the perfume stillgoutte.
The ‘satiné’ stopper has a transparent edge that points to highlight the Finest Cut of The Macallan.
With a color of cherry wood, this whisky’s first taste is described as “dried fruits, heavy, aromatic, black cherry, sandalwood, peat smoke” from The Macallan. The palette of this whisky is noted as “wood spices [and] soft peat” with a finish that is “long and full yet soft.”
The Macallan In Lalique 62 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Bottled in an Art Nouveau style decanter and counting over 62 years old, this whisky is rare with only 400 bottles ever made and released in 2014. It showcases The Macallan’s spiritual home, the Easter Elchies House in an intricate, delicate, and concise form.
To represent the manor’s scraped edges, all three sides of the decanter are frosted. Emblazoned boldly on the front is Captain John Grant’s initials, meticulously etched to mimic the date stone. The bottleneck of the decanter is styled similar to the manor’s crow-stepped gable leading up to the manor’s chimney.
With an appealing rich cherry color, the first taste of this whisky is described as “rich and aromatic [with a] burst of treacle toffee [that uncovers] raisin and blood orange… apple… ginger, cinnamon and chocolate [with] layers of dark vanilla [and] oak.”
The palette is described with “dried fruits… raisin… layers of sweet ginger, figs and cigar leaf, before the oak emerges showing the complexity of age” with a finish that is “long and embracing,” according to The Macallan.
The Macallan Lalique IV 60 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
With only 400 of these decanters ever made worldwide and released in 2011, the Curiously Small Stills decanter houses a rare 60-year-old whisky. This decanter also has an Art Deco style with a round kettle shake that is similar to the stills. The stopper mimics the shape of the handle and the cabochon detail mimics the stills’ rivets.
This whisky’s first taste is described as “complex [with] cinnamon, toasted apple and lemon… blackcurrant leaf… oak… peat” with a palette that is “sweet, citrus [with] dark chocolate and peat” with a finish of “malt caressed by peat,” according to The Macallan.
Aged between 40 to 78 years, this collection showcases exclusive labels illustrated by Spanish artist Javi Anarez.
There are reportedly only two sets of this rare collection, heightening its rarity that, according to The Macmallan, “reflects our deep respect for time, tradition and craftsmanship” and shows the “rich range of reds present naturally in The Macallan.”
Being one of the oldest and most expensive whisky expressions in the world, the Macallan M’s decanter is made of handcrafted crystal and was conceptualized and produced by three crafters: designer Fabien Baron for the concept, Lalique for their mastery of crystal, and The Macallan for purpose.
The Macallan hand-blown decanter is one of the reasons why this whisky bottle fetched $628,205 in Hong Kong. The bottle was crafted for 50 hours by 17 craftsmen. The bottle is also one of the four Constantine bottles remaining today.
The whisky contained in these legendary bottles is aged in Spanish oak for 25-75 years and the “M” in this Macallan bottle is attributed to the many barrels.
The Macallan M Expression
Using some of the most robust, profound, and rare casks at the distillery, the rich rose color was developed with sherry-seasoned Spanish oak that the whiskey slowly extracted as it aged.
From The Macallan, they describe the first taste as “Dried fruits… Vanilla… Ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon… with strong notes of polished oak and… oranges.” The palette is described as “wood spices [and light] wood smoke” with a finish of “raisin and sultana flavors.”
Collaborating with Lalique to create a beautiful crystal decanter, this whiskey was distilled in 1950 and bottled in 2021, concealed within an 800-page almanac, and is a tribute to Captain John Grant. The pages of the book contain illustrations created by Andrew Davidson.
Andrew Davidson drew inspiration from the stories of Captain John Grant’s life and his ties to The Macmallan’s First Pillar, Easter Elchies Estate, to create a work of art. Each chapter is endowed with illustrations, telling the story of Captain John Grant. These illustrations are also etched into the crystal decanter which houses this rare and rich whisky.
From The Macallan, they describe the taste of this whiskey as the first drops of “grapefruit zest, antique oak, vanilla…” with a palette of “peach and apple, wood spice… sweet wood smoke and Yuzu” and a finish of “citrus and sweet oak.”
This whiskey was distilled in 1928 and bottled in 1983, and blended with a cask distilled in 1926, making this rare find’s oldest mixed spirit even more mature and unique.
The Yamazaki 55 Years Old Single Malt Whisky
This whisky is the product of more than half of a century of distilling experience and comes in a bottle with engraved calligraphy using sandblasting techniques, then applying gold dust and lacquer to make this bottle stand out. The Yamazaki 55 Year Old, besides being one of the most expensive whisky expressions
It is the culmination of three casks, the first cask being distilled in 1960 by Yamazaki’s founder, and aged in Mizunara oak. The other two casks were distilled in 1961 and 1964 and then aged in American white oak. Then, the three casks’ spirit was blended by the distillery’s chief blender and third-generation master blender to create a symphony of taste.
The Yamazaki 55 Year Old Single Malt Whisky – The Flavour
According to Dekanta, the taste has “hints of fresh-cut grass, mangoes, orange zest, ginger” with a full-body taste of “mizunara [with] subtle notes of… citrus rinds, sandalwood, cedar shavings, and a [small amount] of sweetness.”
The Balvenie Scotch Whisky is produced in Scotland in an area known as Speyside. It was produced using old age handcrafting methods, and only 88 whiskey bottles were made.
Today, the collection fetches upwards of $50,000, and it’s quite rare. Only connoisseur whisky lovers boast of having a bottle in their collection.
The Glenfiddich Whisky Janet Sheed Roberts is a Reserve bottle has been maturing since The first day of 1955.
The bottle is in the honour of Janet Sheed Roberts, granddaughter of the Glenfiddich founder (Willian Grant) who passed on at the after she reached 110 years. The distiller made 15 bottles in her name using the half-century-old barrel. 11 bottles were put up in auction and one fetched $94,000. The remaining four bottles were given to the family to pass along as heirlooms.
The whisky is accredited for its floral, fruity and sweet taste and, ofcourse, for being one the most expensive whisky expressions in the world.
The Glenfiddich 1937 whisky remains as one of the rarest alcoholic bottles. It was blended in aged oak casts brought from Cuba, and only 61 bottles were produced.
Six bottles are remaining in the world, and one of them is on sale in Hong Kong (At the Chep Lap Kok Airport) and is selling at $120,000. Collectively, the six remaining bottles make this the world’s oldest bottles of single malt whisky.
Dalmore 64 Trinitas
Trinitas is the name given to the Dalmore whisky, which is one of the three bottles that were made. The bottles are made up of combined spirits that were distilled in 1868, 1878, 1926, and 1939.
The Dalmore 64 Trinitas bottle was sold for $160,000, making it the first scotch whiskey to sell for six figures.
A rare whiskey that fetched 85,000 bought by an anonymous English businessman. He preserved it, and now the bottle is up for sale again for $250,000, making it one of the rarest and expensive whiskey brand.
These are the top five reasons that make whisky so expensive:
- Angel’s Share, or Natural Evaporation: As whisky is aged, 1%-2% of the whiskey evaporates over time. This is noticeable after a whisky has been aged for 30 years, leading to 30%-40% of the alcohol evaporating. This causes there to be less whiskey available and can drive up prices.
- The Dilution Amount: The less diluted a whisky is, the fewer bottles can be filled due to the higher amount of alcohol content, leading to an increase in price.
- Single-Cask Whisky: The distiller may choose to sell the brew as a single cask whisky, which means the barrel of whisky cannot be mixed with other barrels, making it rarer.
- Brand and Reputation: Distilleries that have been around a long time, creating high-quality spirits, gaining a reputation for being the best at their craft, and increasing demand for their products. Brands such as The Macallan, Glenfiddich, and Dalmore have a high demand and reputation that allows for an increase in price.
- Extra Premiums: Whether it’s being part of a collectible set, or coming in diamond-encrusted bottles, or being incredibly rare with only a handful of bottles ever made, or having a unique feature like a hand-painted bottle, all of these premiums can drive up the price and increase the glamor associated with the bottle.
Whisky is as delicious as it is collectible, with rare spirits selling for high prices in glamorized bottles or in full sets that may take years to collect. Rarity is a big feature that makes the most expensive whisky ever sold, as well as how it’s distilled and in what kind of bottle and presentation the distillers decide to use.
It’s enough to set the imagination alight and fuel the next generation of distillers and crafters to push the limit even further for whisky enthusiasts around the world.