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7 of the most expensive Scotch whiskies ever sold - including The Macallan and Ardbeg

From a multimillion pound cask of Ardbeg to thousands for a miniature, here are some of the most expensive Scotch whiskies that've been sold in recent years.

Published: August 30, 2023
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While there are plenty of bargain whiskies to be enjoyed, some people are in the enviable position to spend a lot on a bottle or bottles of expensive whiskies - usually very old and rare liquid.

Most of these sales broke records at the time, and showcase how the industry is on the up, with more and more investment happening in recent years. Here's our guide to whisky as an investment.

From an eye-watering amount spent on a cask to a large sum for a small bottle (and a giant one for that matter), here are some of the most expensive Scotch whiskies sold (so far).

Ardbeg 1975 Cask No. 3

This one-of-a-kind 1975 cask of Ardbeg Islay single malt Scotch whisky, which survived the Distillery’s two brushes with closure, sold in 2022 to a private collector in Asia for £16million.

The oldest ever released by Ardbeg, Cask No. 3 is incomparably precious, since little single malt was created at the Distillery in the 1970s and it was closed through much of the 80s and 90s.

Described as a “remarkable piece of liquid history” by world-renowned whisky expert Charles MacLean, Cask No. 3 will be bottled over the course of five years for its owner, giving her an unparalleled vertical collection of aged Ardbegs, which cannot be replicated for at least a decade.

To celebrate the half-century of patience and generations of Distillery workers behind this rare whisky, Ardbeg has pledged to donate £1million to causes on Islay over five years.

The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old

The Macallan 1926 Fine and Rare 60 Year Old, sold by Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer, was the first bottle ever to fetch a seven figure sum - £1M - at a Scottish auction.

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It was part of the 'Perfect Collection' of whisky, from American collector Mr Gooding, which was auctioned in two parts in 2021.

Part one of the auction saw The Macallan 1926 Valerio Adami 60 Year Old sell for $1m (£825,000) at hammer price - the first bottle in an online auction to achieve $1m.

While this is the most expensive Macallan to sell to date, old and rare bottles of Macallan have been selling for large amounts over the last few years.

1919 Springbank miniature

A 5cl bottle of Springbank single malt whisky, distilled in 1919, sold for a record £6,440 via online auction site Whisky.Auction in 2021.

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Whisky collector and co-founder of online retailer The Whisky Exchange, Sukhinder Singh, sold over 400 bottles from his collection of whisky miniatures during the latest miniatures and memorabilia auction at Whisky.Auction, with the full collection reaching £56,732.95 after commission.

Glenfiddich The 1950s Collection

This lot of four rare whiskies from Glenfiddich was sold in 2021 at the Distillers One of One auction, which raised over £2m for Scottish charities

An extended 30-minute bidding battle broke out as eight collectors competed against each other, driving the final sale price to £1,037,500 / $1,380,760 (est. £220,000-350,000).

Provided by William Grant & Sons, this ultra-rare collector’s piece established a new auction record for Glenfiddich.

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The auction will return this October, with more old and rare lots available to buy.

The Intrepid whisky

expensive whiskies

The world’s largest bottle of Scotch whisky, The Intrepid, standing at 5ft 11 inches tall and filled with 311 litres of 32 year old single-malt distilled atThe Macallan in Speyside in 1989, sold for £1.1m ($1.375m) in 2022 after going under the hammer at international auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull.

The bottle, which contains the equivalent of 444 standard bottles, was officially certified as the largest bottle of Scotch whisky in the world by Guinness World Records when it was filled in 2021.

The Intrepid project was created by Daniel Monk, of Fah Mai and Rosewin Holdings, in memory of his father Captain Stanley Monk (the auction day would have been his 80th birthday), and inspired by his passion for adventure, exploration and a desire to help raise money for several charities.

Brora Triptych

expensive whiskies

Ahead of Brora's reopening in 2022, fans of the rare whisky could buy three releases from the Brora Triptych collection that showcase the distillery's famous styles - Brora ‘Elusive Legacy’ 1972, 48-Year-Old, Brora ‘Age of Peat’ 1977, 43-Year-Old and Brora ‘Timeless Original’ 1982, 38-Year-Old.

The three Single Malt whiskies were presented in a luxury case, inspired by Brora’s surrounding coastlines.

Each crystal bottle was completed with Glencairn crystal stoppers, and the cabinet, built from ash wood all sourced in the UK, was crafted by master cabinetmaker and Royal Warrant Holder N. E. J. Stevenson.

The recommended retail selling price for the Triptych was £30,000 (including tax and duty) in UK.

Port Ellen 12 Year Old Queen's Visit

rare Port Ellen

A rare bottle of Islay whisky, thought to be one of around only 40 in existence and which was discovered under the stairs in an Edinburgh household, broke records for a Port Ellen sale in 2022 when it sold for £100,000.

The Port Ellen 12 Year Old 'Queen's Visit’ bottling was specially created to commemorate The Queen’s visit to Islay 42 years ago.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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