Earlier this month, Macallan released one of the oldest bottles of single-malt whisky ever to leave its distillery, a crowning achievement 65 years in the making. At $35,000, it will also cost you a nice chunk of your retirement fund, assuming you can even get your hands on one.
The Macallan 65 is being released in just 450 numbered decanters, handcrafted by Lalique, the final installment in a six-part series of special bottlings that have demonstrated the legendary distillery’s unparalleled achievements in spirit making. It’s among the most mature sherry cask aged single malts ever sold, and the taste of a precious few drops delivers deep, rich character and unforgettably intense flavors.
You’ve likely never tasted anything this old, and you’re not alone. There’s a reason you don’t see a lot of single malts out there over 30. Great whisky is a lot like a great partner: The best ones are rarely on the market after a certain age.
Maturing whisky isn’t a simple game of wait and bottle, and not every barrel, given the time, is even drinkable at 50. In fact, due to factors like oxidation and wood exposure, most whisky begins to fall off long before that, taking on undesirable characteristics that can make it taste like a stale glass of sawdust. Everything from the climate where it’s stored to how well the barrel is constructed plays a part in determining how many good years it can enjoy.
So in many ways, the Macallan 65 is a unicorn that’s been perfected by time, a point well made by its price tag. But like any good investment, its value will only go up. Explore the auction results for similar products, and you’ll see by just how much.
There aren’t many bottles out there this old, and fewer than a handful are released each year. Macallan’s special issue joins a best-of-the-best list of single-malt peers so rare, and so unlike one another, that each on its own is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Here, three slightly less expensive super-premium scotches that are worth a tipple if you ever get the chance:
Generations Mortlach 75 Years Old by Gordon & MacPhail
100 decanters; $31,000
Independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail have produced a truly unique single malt. The sampling, distilled by Mortlach in 1939 and released last year, strikes a robust balance of spicy, nutty flavors mellowed over an unprecedented number of years.
The Balvenie Fifty, Cask 4570
128 bottles; $38,000
Earlier this year, a single cask of some of the greatest whisky the Balvenie has ever created was raided after five decades of aging. The cask, a barrel that once held sherry, produced an elegant whisky that tastes of the darkest honey, the richest toffee and plenty of oak.
Bowmore The 50 Year Old 1961
50 bottles to date; $23,000
A whisky distilled on a cold December day in the early ’60s spent five decades aging before being bottled at the height of its game in 2011. Bowmore is releasing a small portion of the smoky, peated nectar in extremely limited batches each year, for as long as it lasts.