A new record for the most expensive cask of whiskey sold has just been set. Breaking the previous $1.2 million USD record, a one-of-a-kind 1975 cask of Ardbeg Islay single malt Scotch whisky was recently sold at $16 million GBP ($19 million USD) to a private collector in Asia.
The cask that was sold is one of the oldest ever released by Ardbeg Distillery — “Cask No. 3.” As a cask that has survived the Distillery’s two brushes with closure, this cask was created during a time when little single malt was being created by Ardbeg (1970s) with the Distillery being closed through much of the ’80s and ’90s.
Ardbeg CEO Thomas Moradpour comments, “This sale is a source of pride for everyone in the Ardbeg community who has made our journey possible. Just 25 years ago, Ardbeg was on the brink of extinction, but today it is one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world. That is a reflection of generations of hard work: from those in the stillhouse who craft our smoky spirit, to the warehouse staff who care for our casks over decades, to teams around the world who build the reputation of our whiskies with fans, bartenders and collectors.”
Cask No. 3 will be matured and bottled over the next five years in a secure location on Islay where the owner will receive 88 bottles a year. By 2026, the owner will have a vertical series of rare Ardbegs from 1975, aged 46, 47, 48, 49, and 50 years old. This works out to roughly £36,000 GBP per bottle which is comparable to some of the other “vanishingly rare” bottles that have been sold in past auctions.
Ardbeg’s description of the cask reads:
Created in a bygone era when the Distillery still malted its barley onsite, the smoky, balanced spirit of cask No. 3 was distilled on Tuesday, 25th November 1975, and laid down to age in two separate casks – a bourbon and an Oloroso sherry. Those casks were patiently matured by generations of Ardbeg’s skilled warehouse workers over 38 years. Then Ardbeg’s acclaimed Director of Whisky Creation, Dr. Bill Lumsden, decided to marry the two casks, creating an even more extraordinary single malt. On 31st March 2014, he transferred their whisky into a single refill Oloroso butt, selected to give only the subtlest of wood influence. There it has remained ever since. Today, more than 46 years after its story began, this single malt is a smorgasbord of sherried, smoky aromas and rich, elegant tastes.
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