One-and-a-half-million-pound sterling. That’s what someone paid for a glass bottle with a Macallan label on it and some old Macallan whisky in it, back in October last year. Not for the first-time has a gavel struck the hardwood at auction following the final call of a large number with a dollar sign in front of it which pertains to a bottle of whisky. It’s becoming more frequent that these rare and revered bottles go for such ridiculously high prices. Will they be cracked open and tried, or used in a Highball? Doubtful.
No, not doubtful – we all know these bottles will never get opened (they could put black tea in the bottle, no one’s going to know, are they?). They’ll probably end up in a vault or a display case somewhere, never to be touched until their owner decides to flog it to someone else without ever tasting a drop. You could argue that it’s a shame this happens, but tasting it is literally a malt equivalent to a three-legged Schrodinger’s Cat paradox – you don’t know what it will taste like until you open it, and it’ll never get opened because you paid so much for it. (Imagine if you tasted it and it wasn’t AMAZING. It would probably drop a point for being over a million quid I reckon).
My initial reaction when I first heard of things like this, is that it’s all pretty ridiculous, with an additional small spoon of envy for good measure. But if that’s what someone is willing to spend, then whatever. I’m not going to get to try it, so I’m not worried about it. It could taste like Ronseal for all I care. It’s not about the tasting anyway, it’s just part of the wave of pretentiousness that prevails over the world of whisky at the moment, resulting in increasing attempts of one-upmanship from both consumers and producers everywhere. It’s pretty frustrating for us mere mortals who just want to drink decent, well-priced drams. Just make something good and charge what’s reasonable please, Mr Faceless-Executive-Board-Conglomerate the Third. ‘Tis all we ask.
Not to dwell on these things, and as an irked sort of character from time to time, I turn to Youtube to take my mind off things. My ire in relation to obscene costs for rare bottles was quelled watching a few clips presented by Charlie Maclean and hosted by the Single Malt TV channel. He made a couple of points about very rare whiskies that really helped put things into perspective for me. Firstly, these things are just collector’s items to these people, being very desirable due to their rarity. A boozy Fabergé egg if you will. It’s just slightly unfortunate that the effects of this trend ripple through the industry, creating the secondary market we have and suffer from. But it was a short segment in which he mentioned the fact whisky is made to be drunk, and then queried if it’s worth paying such large amounts of money for very rare and expensive whiskies for taste alone. His answer I have quoted below.
“Whether older whiskies, for which you course you pay more, are better than younger whiskies – and the answer to that is they’re not necessarily better – they’re just different”.
Different. They’re just different. In the same way, some of us prefer heavily peated whiskies, or prefer a sherry cask influence – we are all different, as are these whiskies. And it was this that helped to really put things into perspective.
I find myself faced with another That Boutique-y Whisky Company bottling, which is my fourth this year and likely to be my last review of a TBWC, for a while at least. I must say it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, finding both positives and negatives from the small selection that have passed my lips. This tallies with what John found during his recent TBWC tasting – some positives and a few negatives, the overall result being a little above average. At least it’s been varied and a nice experience to try a few different whiskies I wouldn’t normally have tried. In that respect I shouldn’t moan – variety is the spice of life, is it not?
Today’s life spice is a single malt from Glencadam. This distillery is a new different for me, as I have yet to try one. It’s been on my “to try list” for a little while but somehow has evaded passing my lips. They have a decent fanbase from what I understand and have received good reviews here on Malt in the past. It seems their more lowly and accessible single malts are good, solid drams and well worth forking out for, with the upper echelons of their age-statement whiskies also to be worthy of their princely sums. They have a wide range of OBs and a few indies get their grubby mitts on some too, so we’re well catered for across the range of prices. That’s a good thing in my opinion. It means they’re accessible and you can really explore a distillery and discover their USP or “je ne sais quoi” to put it more eloquently.
This particular bottle caught my eye in one of the Master of Malts Flash Sales, with it being about £25 at the time, and hence worthy of me spending money on it. It’s a 6-year-old single malt, bottle 329 of 454 from Batch 1, bottled at 47.5%. The 50cl sized bottle is currently available for £41.95, which many of you might comment along the lines of “too pricey for the age and bottle size” and I might agree, but we are where we are. Still, a bargain compared to a £1,000,000 though.
That Boutique-y Whisky Company Glencadam 6 Year Old – review
Colour: White wine.
On the nose: After quite a few sherry forward whiskies recently, it’s nice to have something which isn’t all dried fruit and toffee. Initial hits of nail varnish remover, blooming yeast, custard, lemon oil, oak and honey with a little rubber to start with. Leather. Wet hay, brown sugar and hints of syrupy prunes follow on. There’s some biscuit in there too – freshly baked shortbread. It’s rounded off nicely with almonds and orange. A savoury whisky as much as sweet, with plenty going on.
In the mouth: Savoury elements are present again in the mouth with pencil shavings, raw potato and damp wood which create some tannic, earthy bitter notes at first. Tangerine zest with sour grapes then comes through in a light, airy manner. Fresh apple with toffee to finish with drying, lingering black tea at the end, almost Lapsang Souchong like.
An enjoyable youthful whisky where the spirit has a voice and isn’t mullered or smothered by sherry casks. As I paid less than £30 for the 50cl bottle I’m really very happy, but at full price, it’s still not bad. There’s some character there, with a nice array of sweet and savoury flavours. Perhaps a little longer in the cask would improve things? Maybe, who knows. Based on this I am encouraged to fork out for their lower-end core expressions, so surely that’s some sort of approval at least? Definitely something quite different.
The score here is respective of the full price.
There is a commission link within this article if you wish to purchase this youthful expression and help out Malt. As always, such links don’t affect our opinion. The photograph is kindly provided by Whisky World.