The rewards of the hard work and sweat of distillers, master blenders, and others who have been making some of the greatest Scotch whisky have a history and tradition that spans more than five centuries, and they have always been prized for whatever reason.
Its significance may be gauged by the fact that in the 18th century, whiskies were a favored means of payment among Pennsylvania citizens in America. The South African single malt whisky market has expanded rapidly in recent years.
With local whiskey businesses such as Three Ships, Glenmorangie Grand Vintage, and Copper Republic Single Grain Whisky bottling their beverages with only the best malts, the quality has skyrocketed.
With multinational whiskies predominating single malt drinking sessions, South African single malts are served with the blunt end of the stick. But, if you’re going to spend the big bucks, buy one of them.
These really priceless and magnificent bottles of single malt Scotch whiskey are sought after by whisky connoisseurs from all over the world.
These are the most costly whiskeys in South Africa, comparable to exquisite paintings and sculptures that account for a museum’s worth of history.
Discover 12 Most Expensive Whiskey Bottles in the World
What Is Whiskey?
Whiskey (sometimes written whiskey) is a golden-colored distilled liquor created from fermented grain (most often rye, wheat, corn, or barley).
Most whiskeys are matured in hardwood barrels before bottling and contain at least 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).
There are numerous distinct whiskey varieties, which are mainly characterized by their area of origin, grain types, blending procedure, or aging process, and each has a unique flavor.
Whiskey, on the other hand, is frequently characterized as warm, spicy, sweet, caramelly, or toasted.
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12 Most Expensive Whiskey Bottles in South Africa 2021
What is South Africa’s most expensive whiskey? A bottle of whiskey is generally cheap to the average user; nonetheless, many special bottles are regarded as the most expensive in the whiskey market.
Despite the fact that the majority of these whiskies are designated for high-end auctions, South Africans may purchase them online from reliable sellers.
Here are the most expensive whiskey bottles available in South Africa
1. Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60 years old – R 16.5M
This whiskey’s decanter is housed in an unique cabinet, one of only 12 in the world, conceived and made by pop artist Valerio Adami. It was distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, and it is believed to be worth US$ 1.1 million.
It was last sold at auction in 2020, when a prominent whiskey collector from Colorado named Richard Gooding died and his collection was auctioned off. One of the remaining 11 is thought to have been destroyed in an earthquake, and the other has been drunk.
2. Royal Salute, 45 years – R 2.96M
Six decades after the launch of Royal Salute to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, Chivas has outdone themselves with the production of Tribute to Honor, an incredible premium limited edition.
Only 21 jewel-encrusted porcelain decanters of this amazing 45-year-old mix have been issued globally, with each bottle embellished by Royal jewelers Garrard with more than 400 black and white diamonds.
3. The Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection 65 Year Old – R1.09
The Macallan Lalique Legacy Collection is a collection of six beautiful crystal decanters (named the Six Pillars Odyssey) holding some of The Macallan’s rarest single malts aged 50 to 65 years old, designed by French glassmaker and jeweler Lalique.
Each of the six sought-after limited-edition decanters was first released as a single item and is the result of a decade-long partnership between The Macallan and Lalique.
The bottles are stored in a custom-made natural ebony cabinet alongside six miniatures and six sets of Lalique Macallan glasses. It was auctioned off in April 2017 at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong, where it sold for R1.09.
4. Balvenie 50 years, Speyside single-malt whisky – R560K
The bottle, which is only available at Makro, is the most expensive whiskey bottle sold by a South African shop.
The whiskey’s bouquet is characterized as “rich and deep, with an initial oakiness followed by sweeter scents of raisins and sultanas and a slight ginger spice.”
Taste: Rich dark fruits, such as cherries and blackberries, with a spicy explosion of crushed ginger, cinnamon, and allspice. Oak tannin and a delectable sweetness emerge. Finish: “Rich and peppery, with dried fruits and lingering sweetness.”
5. Glenlivet 50-year-old Winchester Collection Speyside single malt Scotch whisky – R431K
While Glenlivet’s whiskies have generally received high praise at international competitions and wine and spirit reviews (with the Glenlivet 18-year-old brand winning double gold five times from 2005 to 2012), the 50-year-old Winchester collection single malt whiskey is the real gem of the Glenlivet collection. With an incredible blend of delectable, rich tastes like toasted almonds, luscious peaches, and apricot jam,
6. Glenfiddich 50-year-old – R485K
Both are available online from Whiskey Brother & Co. and Makro, with the price difference attributable to the packaging given by Makro, which is marketed as a gift box. The whiskey is delivered in a wooden case by Whiskey Brother and Co.
The whiskey is reported as “just 500 bottles were manufactured” by Whiskey Brother and Co. Each bottle is personally numbered and autographed by former Chairman Alexander Grant Gordon, who is also the company’s great-grandson.
Presented in a wooden cabinet with an authenticity certificate. “43 percent alcohol by volume.”
7. Glenlivet 1940 70 years – R323K
The FNB Whisky Live Festival, which auctioned off the Mortlach 70-Year-Old last year, is planning to sell off two 200ml bottles of the Glenlivet 70-Year-Old in 2021, making it the world’s oldest whiskey.
The whiskey will be available at the Tops at Spar auction during the Festival, in addition to having its debut in South Africa this year. The Glenlivet 70-Year-Old, released in 1940, has a rich amber hue with tawny lights.
It smells like a vintage cocktail cabinet, sherry notes, polished wood, soft leather, a smidgeon of candle wax, and some fruity essences on the banknotes.
The single malt is housed in a stunning tear-shaped hand-blown crystal decanter with a British Hallmarked silver stopper.
The Gordon & MacPhail Generations Label whiskey has a limited quantity of bottles available globally, and all earnings will be given to the Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR).
It’s safe to say that the world’s oldest bubbly will not be cheap. The Glenlivet 70-Year-Old 700ml decanters cost $21,000, while the 200ml bottles cost $5,000 in the UK.
8. Glenfarclas 60-year-old whisky – R277K
Last year saw the release of a slew of uncommon older whiskies from throughout the world, with one of the most ancient coming from the independently managed Glenfarclas distillery in Scotland.
Its proprietors had recently presented a 1966 barrel-aged bottling, but it is easily overshadowed by a 60-year-old expression derived from one of their last 1953 barrels.
The Glenfarclas 60 Year Old costs a whopping £14,500 (almost $22,000 USD) and is available in an extremely limited edition of just 360 bottles worldwide.
It is only offered at a few select merchants throughout the world, including Master of Malt and Whisky Exchange for people in the United States who would wish to buy one if they win the lotto.
9. Glen Grant, 50 years – R153K
The world-renowned Glen Grant distillery has launched a unique 50-year-old vintage whiskey, the Scottish brand’s oldest and most costly whisky to date.
Dennis Malcolm, the company’s current master distiller, filled the cask that would become Glen Grant 50 Year Old single malt Scotch in October 1963 and has cared for it ever since, ensuring that the combination between whiskey and oak produces something really unique. Only 150 bottles will be made available, making the collection as unique and special as it gets.
Each decanter is a work of art in its own right, hand-numbered and completed with the number 50 in 18kt gold writing. Glencairn Crystal, Scotland’s last family-owned crystal glass manufacturer, created the recipient from hand-blown crystal glass.
Glen Grant 50 Year Old is available for around $13,700 and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Dennis Malcolm and every craftsman involved.
10. Balvenie 40 years – R67K
The Balvenie 40-year-old Speyside Single Malt strikes an impressive mix between conventional whiskey barrel and sherry cask malts. As a result, it imparts rich and beautiful floral flavors to the whiskey. It costs around £3,475.
11. Glenfiddich 40 years – R53K
The Balvenie 40 Year Old is pure perfection in a bottle. The perfume is exquisite and tantalizing, with notes of dried apricots, candied fruit peels, and ginger on the nose. The palate is filled with nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey aromas — a wonderful dram.
The Glenfiddich 40 years, a limited edition scotch whiskey, has a rich floral and oak scent with a hint of manuka honey. The Glenfiddich distillery produced just 600 bottles of this exceptional whiskey. It costs around £2,750.
12. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Baccarat – R48K
Simply said, the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Baccarat is the distillery’s most premium Whiskey to date, as well as the most popular and generally recognized top-tier mix.
The Johnnie Walker Blue Label is crafted from the finest matured grain whiskies and malts. The packaging of the Blue Label, unquestionably the jewel of the world of blended Whiskey, preserves its unrivaled place above the rest of the Johnnie Walker range.
This Johnnie Walker brand was created from some of history’s oldest whiskies, with the packaging made as a homage to Johnnie Walker on his birthday.
What Is the Composition of Whiskey?
Whiskey is made out of a few simple ingredients:
- Grain mash: The majority of alcohol production begins with an agricultural product that will be fermented. A fermentable whiskey foundation is typically a blend of grains such as malted barley, rye, corn, or wheat, the tastes and characteristics of which frequently define the final product. For example, rye whiskey’s mash bill must have at least 51 percent rye, but Kentucky bourbon must contain at least 51 percent maize.
- Water: Following the distillation process, whiskey producers will add water to the product in order to get the appropriate alcohol by volume.
- Optional extras: Whiskey can have up to 2.5 percent added tastes (straight whiskey has no added flavors). To establish a specific character or look in their liquor, several whiskey manufacturers opt to add botanicals, spices, flavorings, or color during distillation or aging.
- Time: After distillation, whiskey is aged in oak casks or barrels before bottling to bring forth diverse tastes and hues. Whiskey has a minimum maturing requirement of two years in the United States, while many manufacturers age the spirit for 10 to 12 years.
How Is Whiskey Made?
To manufacture whiskey, most distilleries follow a few fundamental steps:
- Mix the basic ingredients together. Whiskey manufacturers will combine grains such as wheat malt, flaked maize, or rye with water and yeast to create a fermentable foundation. They next heat and stir the mixture (also known as “whiskey mash”) to ensure that it is fully mixed and ready to ferment.
- The base is fermented. Whiskey producers then keep their base combination for a set period of time—usually one to two weeks—to allow the mixture to properly ferment. During this stage, the molecules begin to degrade, yielding a simple, natural alcohol known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
- The mixture should be strained. When the fermentation process is finished, the liquid is separated from the fermented solids. The sediments will be discarded, and the liquid (ethanol) will be used to manufacture vodka.
- Distill. Distillation is a method of purifying liquids by heating and vaporizing them, then collecting the vapor when it condenses back into a liquid. The resultant liquid is considered purer (because to the fact that it leaves many contaminants behind when it evaporates) and more alcoholic.
- Gather and separate the distillate. The liquid that whiskey distillers have after distillation isn’t all the same—the final liquid alters as ethanol distills. The first 35% of a distillation yields an ethanol product that contains methanol or acetone and can be very volatile or toxic—containers of this liquid are known as “foreshots” and “heads,” and distillers normally discard them. The next 30% includes the “hearts,” which are the best product. The remaining 35% are the “tails,” which are impure but can be preserved and redistilled for further development.
- The liquor should be aged. After distillation, whiskey undergoes an aging phase in which the spirit is stored in oak barrels for at least two years. Distilleries utilize a variety of maturing procedures, such as fresh oak barrels, white oak barrels, charred barrels, or barrels that have been soaked in wine or sherry.
- Dilute. Whiskey producers test and dilute their product with filtered water before or after maturing to achieve the right alcohol concentration (sometimes both).
- Bottle. The bottling process is the final phase, in which whiskey producers add the finished product to labeled bottles. The whiskey stops maturing once it is bottled.
Types of Whiskey
There are numerous distinct varieties of whiskey, which are mainly characterized by their origin, grain type, blending procedure, or aging process:
- Tennessee whiskey: A variant of Bourbon, Tennessee whiskey is matured after being filtered using sugar maple charcoal. The Lincoln County Process is the filtering procedure that gives Tennessee Whiskey its distinct flavor.
- Scotch whiskey: This is required to be distilled, matured, and bottled in Scotland. Scotch must be matured in wood barrels for a least of three years, according to Scottish legislation. Scotch malt whisky has traditionally been produced in five distinct Scottish regions: the Highlands, Lowlands, Campbeltown, Islay, and Speyside. Scotch gets its smokey flavor from peat, which is a thick moss that is burned to dry out the malted barley from the distillation. Unless a recipe specifies a certain brand or kind of scotch, a blended scotch is your best choice for most drinks. If you’re drinking it neat or on the rocks, go for a single-malt scotch.
- Irish whiskey: To be considered Irish whiskey, a spirit must be made from malt, cereal grain, and barley and distilled, matured, and bottled in Ireland. Irish whiskey must be matured for a minimum of three years in oak barrels. When Irish whiskey is stored in unconventional containers such as sherry barrels or rum casks, its more subdued, malty flavour shows through.
- Blended whiskey: A blended whiskey is a concoction of whiskeys from several distilleries.
- Bourbon whiskey: Bourbon whiskey is an American whiskey that is frequently (but not always) manufactured in Kentucky and contains at least 51 percent maize in its mash bill or grain composition. If made in the United States, bourbon must be matured in newly charred oak barrels, resulting in a characteristically nutty taste profile and a mellow, caramelized sweetness.
- Single Malt: A single-malt whiskey is produced by a single distillery and includes just one kind of malted grain. Unless it’s a single cask whiskey, a single-malt whiskey bottle may contain whiskey from many barrels.
- Japanese whiskey: Although whisky is bottled in Japan, it is not always made or matured there. Some Japanese whiskey is immediately reminiscent of Scotch whisky, while others are constantly changing, capitalizing on the distinct attributes of indigenous Japanese wood.
- Rye whiskey: This has a mash bill that comprises at least 51 percent rye. If made in the United States, rye, like bourbon, must be matured in freshly charred oak barrels. In general, rye whiskey is lighter-bodied than many other whiskeys, with a tingling spice that distinguishes it.
- Canadian whiskey: This must be made and matured in Canada, have a minimum ABV of 40%, and be aged for at least three years in hardwood barrels no bigger than 700 liters. Canadian whiskey can also contain caramel and other flavorings or additions, resulting in a wide range of flavors.