How to land an ultra-rare $6000 bottle of scotch

Eat & Drink

Australia has been allocated 42 of the 1,700 bottles of a rare and unusual 40-year-old whisky release. Five are going to bottleshops. The rest will be sold through a database of high-net-worth whisky lovers. Read on to find out how to get on the list.
Katie Nagar, Diageo’s “rare and exceptional” executive. | Image: Supplied

In the final in a series of three Epicurean Odyssey releases by the Singleton of Glen Ord distillery, the $5940 bottles were launched in Shanghai last week and will go on sale in Australia next week.

 The release has attempted to push the boundaries of what can be done with long-aged whisky. After an initial maturation of 12 years in ex-bourbon casks, the batch was placed in a combination of ex-bourbon, ex-rum, ex-Pedro Ximinez sherry and Oloroso sherry casks for a further 28 years.

For the final few months of its maturation, it went into casks that had held Ron Zacapa’s XO rum.

 “Typically Ron Zacapa rum will go through refill American oak, virgin American oak, then two types of sherry casks, then XO cognac, as well as Bordeaux red wine casks,” explains Katie Nagar, “rare and exceptional executive” for British beverage giant Diageo in Australia. “That’s a huge among of layering of flavour profiles from the liquid and the wood itself,” she says.

In total, 1716 bottles of the batch – which claims notes of dark chocolate and plum – are for sale worldwide. Nagar said Australia was in the top-ten consumers of luxury scotch in the world and so would receive more on a per-capita basis than most.

Of the 42 bottles coming to Australia, five have been allocated to various Dan Murphys bottle shops and the rest will be sold through Diageo’s database of “high-net-worth customers”.

To be on that database, Forbes can reveal the never-before published address: privateclient@diageorareandexceptional.com.au

The 40-year-old Singleton of Glen Ord. | Image: Supplied

Diageo, which operates 30 distilleries in Scotland, primarily sells its Singleton of Glen Ord brand into Asia because it suits the flavour preferences there, Nagar said.

Diageo’s Singleton of Dufftown from a separate distillery usually goes to Australia and Europe while the Singleton of Glendullan usually goes to North America. “Glen Ord tends to be the most rich and cherried, and we found that drinkers in south-east Asia liked those rich, almost cognac flavours,” she said. “The Glendullan is a light and green style. It makes sense for North America where they drink a lot of Canadian and Irish whiskey which is lighter and smoother.” Duffton was a balance between the two, she said, and appealed to Europeans and Australians, though she predicted the Glen Ord special release would be snapped up in Australia.

 The project was driven by the now-retired “master of malt” Maureen Robinson.

Nagar wonders at the difficulty whisky makers face in predicting the future. “When they laid this whisky into oak over 40 years ago, they didn’t know it was going to be called the Epicurean Series. What they will do is they’ll set aside a certain amount for long-term maturation with the plan to create something exceptional down the road. They of course want it to be balanced. They’ll sample it every year to see how it’s developing and what it can lead towards.

 “They’re forecasting the future: what people are going to want to drink; what will be in vogue; how much will you be producing; what’s a good age statement. It’s phenomenal to see the amount of planning these master blenders put into it.”

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