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The 25 Most Expensive Whiskeys in the World in 2024

Published on July 9, 2024 | 0 Comments
A person pouring whiskey

There’s a certain feeling of wealth and class when you order a Scotch so it should be no surprise that the most expensive bottles of whiskey can fetch a pretty penny. This type of liquor, traditionally made from fermented barley, corn, rye or wheat earns a high price tag not so much because of how many years it is aged for, but rather the container it is aged in. “Single malt” is often proclaimed on many labels of the most expensive whiskeys. Still, all that means is that the alcohol came from one ingredient, usually barley, rather than a combination of barley and rye.

When it comes to aging the most expensive whiskeys, the amount of time it is aged impacts the flavor, but it doesn’t justify the cost. Most whiskeys are aged in oak barrels, often charred, to achieve a darker color and smoother finish. However, not all oak barrels are the same. The barrel age and wood density affect the flavor. A whiskey aged in a new oak barrel won’t have the same depth as one aged in a barrel that once held wine. Factors like weather also impact the final product. Aging longer doesn’t always mean better, so a 30-year-old one might not taste like the most expensive whiskey.

Read on to learn more about some of the most expensive whiskeys available on the market, whether for research or if you’re looking to kick off a major celebration.

 

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What is the Most Expensive Whiskey in the World?

If you’re wondering what the most expensive whiskey in the world is, the answer is that several whiskeys in the world command exorbitant prices, making it difficult to determine a clear number one. These high price tags result from exceptional craftsmanship, elaborate decanters, unique packaging and the rarity of the bottles. Unlike some of the most expensive foods in the world, many of the most expensive whiskeys are limited to just a few bottles worldwide, sometimes as few as 10. Some distilleries have ceased operations, adding to their exclusivity. As the years pass, each bottle's value tends to increase. And while age can influence the price, it's not always the oldest bottles that fetch the highest bids.

Below, you'll find 25 of the most expensive whiskeys, with prices ranging from tens of thousands to over a million dollars. You'll notice certain producers, like Macallan, appear multiple times on this list, having established themselves among the most expensive whiskey brands. Fortunately, they also offer more affordable high-end bottles perfect for celebrating life's biggest occasions. 

A glass of one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world
via Canva

25 Most Expensive Bottles of Whiskey in the World

1. The Yamazaki 55-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

One of the most expensive whiskey brands in the world isn't from Scotland but Japan. The Yamazaki 55-year-old Single Malt comes from the House of Suntory. While the brand does offer more affordable options, this particular bottle, first released in 2020, costs around $949,000 and requires special connections to purchase. It is a blend of three whiskeys: the first distilled in 1960 in a Mizunara oak cask, and the second and third in 1961 and 1964, respectively, aged in American white oak. With only 100 bottles released, its rarity significantly drives up the price, hence its place on this list of the world’s most expensive whiskeys.

The Yamazaki is one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world
via The Yamazaki

2. The Macallan Lalique 50-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Another one of the most expensive whiskeys released in a limited batch, the Macallan Lalique 50-year-old whiskey comes from one of the most prestigious producers of Scotch. About 470 bottles were released in 2005 and at around $300,000, it’s certainly one of the world’s most expensive whiskeys. You can get your hands on a bottle, housed in Lalique crystal, from France. Notes of cardamom and cumin hit your nose while dark prunes, chocolate and a hint of sherry oak tickle your tongue.

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3. Gordon & MacPhail Generations Glenlivet 80-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Once known as the world’s oldest Scotch whiskey, it isn’t the impressive 80-year aging process that makes this one of the most expensive whiskeys but the storied cask it was aged in. Made of oak felled back when Abraham Lincoln was still a practicing attorney, the cask held grape juice, a young wine and finally mature sherry before it was shipped to the Glenlivet Distillery in 1824. A bottle of this 80-year-old Scotch goes for around $140,000 today, making it one of the most expensive whiskeys on the market.

An ice cube being poured in a glass of whiskey
via Canva

4. The Macallan The Reach 81-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Another one of the most expensive whiskeys is the oldest bottle of Scotch ever released. The Reach by Macallan was crafted before World War II, before resting in a single sherry-seasoned oak cask for 81 years. It was then portioned off into 288 decanters and hit the market at $125,000 per bottle in February 2023, but the price nearly tripled within nine months, making it a strong contender for the most expensive whiskey. Each bottle is cradled in a bronze sculpture of three hands, and while no one has admitted to tasting it, Macallan describes the taste as having “a rich, sweet smokiness.”

5. The Emerald Isle Collection

Known as the rarest triple-distilled single malt Irish whiskey, The Emerald Isle Collection is listed for a cool $2 million, making it perhaps the most expensive whiskey in the world. Sold at auction on St. Patrick’s Day of 2021, the founder of Craft Irish Whiskey pledged all proceeds to the Correa Family Foundation benefiting children affected by cancer. Six polished dark walnut boxes were created and auctioned off, each containing a bottle of whiskey, a rare Celtic Fabergé egg, a bespoke Fabergé watch, a humidor and two limited-edition Cohiba cigars — a refined repertoire of complements for one of the world’s all-time most expensive whiskeys.

The Emerald Isle Collection may be the most expensive whiskey in the world
via The Emerald

6. The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 60 Year Aged 

Distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, The Macallan’s Fine & Rare Collection is one of the most expensive whiskeys you can buy (and that’s not easy to do). Aged in a European oak sherry cask, there are approximately 40 total ever produced. It sold for $1.9 million at Sotheby’s auction in 2019. With nuances of dried fruit, dates and prunes along with notes of wood and treacle toffee, it has been called the “holy grail of whiskeys.” No wonder it’s considered one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world.

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7. Karuizawa The Dragon Aged 52 Years

The most expensive whiskey from Karuizawa is the 52-year aged The Dragon, aged in a sherry hogshead cask, giving it a deep amber color with sandalwood and tobacco on the nose, a vibrant flavor of black fruit and a touch of smoke on the back palate. Only 41 bottles were produced. A single bottle sold for just over $300,000 from Bonham in 2018, ranking it as one of the world’s most expensive whiskeys. Karuizawa ceased production over 20 years ago, so almost all of its bottles are very rare.

Pouring whiskey on a glass with ice
via Canva

8. Campbeltown Springbank 50-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Coming from Campbeltown, the oldest distillery in Scotland, Springbank’s 50-year-old single malt is one of the most expensive whiskeys out there. Sold for just over $200,000 from Christie’s in 2021, this bottle once held the Guinness World Record for the Most Expensive Whiskey. The first iteration of this whiskey hit the market in 1919 in a pear-shaped decanter but was later redesigned in 1970.

9. Port Ellen Queen’s Visit 12 Year Aged 1980

This special bottle sold for around $111,000 from Whiskey Auctioneer in 2022 and is one of the most expensive whiskeys. A limited run of just 40 bottles was produced and released in 1980 for the select few attendees of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the distillery. It was drawn from one of two casks from 1967. It earned a score of 99 out of 100 on WhiskeyFun thanks to notes of rich, juicy fruit and a heady fragrance of spice.

Port Ellen Queen’s Visit 12 Year Aged 1980 is one of the most expensive whiskeys
via Diageo

10. Hanyu Ichiro’s Full Card Series 

This series of the most expensive whiskeys received $1.53 million for 54 bottles in 2014 at Bonham’s. Each of the 54 bottles represents a card from a deck, including two Jokers. The Hanyu distillery is no longer in business, but the grandson of the former owner conserved around 400 casks in 1941 which he hand-selected to comprise this collection, released in 2005.

11. The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926 60-Year-Old

Yet another one of the most expensive whiskeys comes from Macallan: Michael Dillon 1926, 60 years aged. Perhaps the most collectible whiskey bottle ever, this is a one-of-one, hand-painted bottle from Irish artist Michael Dillon. A total of 40 bottles were produced from this ex-Sherry cask, with 12 painted by Peter Blake and another 12 by Valerio Adami. It sold for $1.53 million from Christie’s in 2018.

One of the most expensive whiskeys is The Macallan Michael Dillon 1926
via The Macallan

12. The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-Year-Old

Much like others from Macallan, the Valerio Adami 60-year-old single malt is one of the most expensive whiskeys available. Sold for $2.6 million at Sotheby’s London in 2023, it is the same whiskey found in the Michael Dillion bottle, with limited edition hand-painted artwork by Valerio Adami. Of the 40 bottles produced from the cask, the majority were not made available for sale but gifted to Macallan’s top clients.

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13. The Macallan M in Constantine Bottle 

Another record-breaking sale of the most expensive whiskey from Macallan is the “M” collection in Constantine bottles. The bottle sold for just over $628,000 to a bidder in Hong Kong. The decanter is made of hand-blown glass and took 17 craftsmen more than 50 hours to complete. It houses six liters of whiskey, a blend of seven casks made from rare sherry oak and ranging from 25 to 75 years old.

Three bottles of The Macallan M
via The Macallan

14. Karuizawa 52-Year-Old Zodiac Rat

Another one of the most expensive whiskeys from Karuizawa, this one was aged 52 years in a single sherry cask. One of only 41 bottles, it sold for $435,000 at Sotheby’s in London in 2020. This special bottle is identified by a rat netsuke, a miniature sculpture from 17th century Japan, that hangs around the bottle’s neck.

15. Dalmore 62

A bottle of Dalmore 62-year-old fetched $250,000 at Singapore Airport. One of 12 bottles, this earns a spot among the most expensive whiskeys and is a blend of five casks with unique vintages dating back to the mid-1800s. It brings a smooth flavor with the scent of Seville orange and vanilla and the taste of tropical fruits and berries.

A bottle of Dalmore whiskey
via Dalmore

16. The Macallan 64-Year-Old in Lalique

Once known as the most expensive whiskey sold in America, a 64-year vintage from Macallan, bottled in Lalique sold for $460,000 in New York City in 2010. A blend of three vintages, all from Spanish sherry casks, the stunning Lalique container adds to the hefty price tag. The bottle itself was created using an old technique known as “lost wax” where a glass artisan creates a wax model and covers it in plaster to set before melting out the wax via steam, leaving a cavity to be filled by glass or metal. This particular ultra-ornate bottle is a one-of-one, celebrating 150 years of Lalique glass.   

17. Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Robert Reserve 1955

While $95,000 might seem like pocket change compared to some of the other most expensive whiskeys, that’s still a large chunk of change to be spending on a bottle of Scotch. The Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Robert Reserve 1955 earned a hefty price tag due exclusively to the quality of the Scotch. Many of the other high-profile whiskeys on this list call for hundreds of thousands of dollars for a combination of exquisite craftsmanship on both the bottle and box it resides in, while this Glenfiddich vintage is no-frills. $100,000 might sound low based on the rarity of this bottle. Experts describe the taste of pear, barley and heather as heavenly, and it is one of only 11 bottles ever produced.

Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Robert Reserve 1955 is one of the most expensive whiskeys
via Glenfiddich

18. The Dalmore Trinitas 64-Year-Old

Dalmore makes the list of most expensive whiskeys yet again, this time with the 64-year-old Trinitas bottle. A total of three bottles were produced and two were immediately accounted for, leaving one for sale at around $250,000. The whiskey inside combines 1868, 1878, 1926 and 1939 vintages stored in many different types of wood, each imparting flavor, and the final two years were spent in a handcrafted American white oak cask.

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19. Isabella’s Islay Original Whiskey

It is fair to say that Isabella’s Islay is one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world, but to be fair, a lot of the $6.2 million price tag comes from the bottle. Adorned with white gold and covered in 300 rubies and more than 5000 diamonds, the container is worth a solid $6 million without any liquid inside. The whiskey itself isn’t exactly bottom shelf, either — it’s a delicate golden hue with warm flavors of buttered toast and woodsmoke with a hint of fresh barley, distilled by UK-based Luxury Beverage Company. 

Bottle of Isabella’s Islay Original Whiskey
via Isabella’s Islay

20. The Macallan The Intrepid

Macallan does it again, this time with one of the most expensive whiskeys of all time and the largest bottle of whiskey in the world, confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records. The bottle is nearly six feet tall and contains 311 liters of 32-year-old whiskey from two sister casks, made at Macallan’s Speyside distillery. It sold for $1.38 million in Edinburgh in 2022. The bottle is adorned with black and white images of 11 of the world’s most respected explorers, like Olly Hicks, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and others.

21. Bowmore and Aston Martin ARC-52 

This is one of the most expensive whiskeys with a high-end bottle that’s as coveted as it is stunning. A collaboration between the luxury automobile manufacturer and a luxury Scotch producer, it looks every bit as ritzy as $75,000 can buy. The bottle is a unique piece of hand-blown glass that resembles a spaceship of sorts and makes a statement on your bar cart or wall. Bowmore is located on the Isle of Islay, known for producing peaty Scotch aged to perfection. Only 100 bottles were produced, and the liquid inside is a blend of 50% whiskey aged in American oak, ex-bourbon hogshead and a European oak that formerly held sherry.

ARC-52 is one of the most expensive whiskeys in the world
via Bowmore

22. The Yamazaki 35-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whiskey

Another House of Suntory masterpiece earns a spot amongst the most expensive whiskeys, this time a 35-year-old Yamazaki. Only 200 bottles of this treasure exist, which explains the price tag of $75,000 or more. Created in Japan, where renowned waters and a misty climate create the perfect environment for whiskey, this batch was aged in Spanish sherry oak casks, filled for the second time. This whiskey has a fruit-forward flavor, bursting with blackberries, strawberries, honey and ginger and it finishes with hints of herbal tea and forest fruits. Unlike most of the other whiskeys listed here, this bottle is relatively easy to buy and can be found online for order.

23. The Macallan Red Collection 71-Year-Old

Coming in around $150,000, The Macallan Red Collection’s 71-year-old whiskey is another sublime bottle of Scotch. The Red Collection is Macallan’s oldest and perhaps most significant as the color red has a rich history with the brand. From choosing wooden casks that impart red hues or the deep red of sherry wine that fills those casks before the whiskey, even the surname of the brand’s founder, Alexander Reid, means “red.” The rich flavor is both sweet and spicy, with hints of ginger and vanilla, finishing with woodsmoke, peach and hazelnut.

A bottle of The Macallan Red Collection 71-Year-Old
via The Macallan

24. Hibiki 35 Arita Kutani Blended Japanese Whiskey

Another beautiful creation from Suntory, the blend that makes this one of the most expensive whiskeys continues to grow in value and rarity due to a shortage of old and very old Japanese whiskeys. A lovely and traditional ceramic decanter houses this 35-year-old blend, and is adorned with traditional Japanese symbols like peony flowers and butterflies. The liquid gold inside combines single malt and grain whiskeys aged in several different casks like sherry, bourbon and Mizunara. A total of 150 bottles from this collection exist and they sell for approximately $90,000 each.

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25. The Macallan Red Collection

A single bottle from The Red Collection can go for upwards of $150,000 but you can buy the whole collection if you’ve got a spare million dollars! The full collection of one of the most expensive whiskeys was sold from Sotheby’s in London in 2020 for $975,000 plus change. It features several very old whiskeys, including a 78-year-old bottle that is the oldest available from Macallan as well as a 74-year-old bottle in the collection of six, one of only two in existence.

The Macallan Red Collection is one of the most expensive whiskey collections
via The Macallan

While the cost of a single bottle or small collection of the most expensive whiskeys is astounding, the vast majority of, if not all of the aforementioned bottles aren’t readily available for sale. You have to be a qualified buyer, connected with auction houses like Sotheby’s or Bonham’s, and you have to be at the right place at the right time. 

There are a few super expensive whiskeys that you can order online if you can afford the $50,000 or higher price tag. Unlike other food and drink that you'll taste and dream about for years to come, the truth is many of these ultra-coveted and expensive bottles will likely sit unopened in the homes of their collectors as their value continues to appreciate.  

For a true whiskey aficionado, the history and diversity here are fascinating, even for those unable to taste a cold glass of million-dollar whiskey. They provide an insight into the mystique and prestige associated with whiskey, and help us to understand that, just like any other cultural phenomenon, there is more to the value of the world’s most expensive whiskeys than their flavor or even their age. 

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