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Rare Breeds

Collectible whiskeys get their day in the sun

Author Jacqueline Detwiler

EARLIER THIS YEAR, when the most expensive whiskey ever sold at auction went for a staggering $94,000, scotch expert and Glenfiddich brand ambassador Heather Greene was sitting right next to the winning bidder. “It was very exciting,” she says. “Whiskey has become an item that people love to collect, akin to a rare piece of art or a beautiful bottle of wine.”

But suppose you’re not in the market for a $94,000 bottle of liquid gold. Can you still buy a rare whiskey worth saving for a special occasion? Sure you can.

The first option is to try a periodically released specialty whiskey, created by cherry-picking the best casks from a batch, maturing the whiskey in unusual kinds of wood or mixing different ages of spirit. The ultrasmooth Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year, for instance, is drawn only from barrels in the very center (i.e., the most climate-stable area) of the brand’s Kentucky warehouse. The Dalmore’s fruity King Alexander III scotch, meanwhile, combines booze aged in port, bourbon, sherry, Madeira, Marsala and cabernet sauvignon barrels. Either can turn a party into a soirée, and a tipple into an ROI.

Those who are more interested in collect-ability should look for limited editions, which most major distilleries release about twice a year and which disappear after they sell out. Greene’s picks for this winter include The Balvenie 50 and the Glenfiddich Malt Master’s Edition. Both of these—like all whiskeys—stop aging once bottled, so you can keep them indefinitely. That is, assuming you don’t come upon one of those special occasions (like, er, “Thursday”).

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