The Two-Way
4:42 pm
Sun December 9, 2012

This Is The World's Most Expensive Whisky

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:48 pm

Update at 10 a.m. ET, Dec. 11. We Were Wrong:

Though Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman told Weekend All Things Considered that he thought the $94,000 paid for a bottle of his company's Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55 Year Old whisky was a record, it appears he was mistaken.

As we say in a new post where we hopefully set things straight, a bottle of 64-year-old Macallan single-malt whisky in a Lalique Cire Perdue decanter sold in 2010 for $460,000. Our thanks to reader Elliott Back for alerting us.

We apologize for the mistake.

Our original post (now obviously rather moot, but still interesting) — "This Is The World's Most Expensive Whisky":

Janet Sheed Roberts, the granddaughter of Glenfiddich founder William Grant, lived to the ripe old age of 110.

She died earlier this year, but on her final birthday, her family decided to honor the milestone.

From the company's stocks, Glenfiddich Malt Master Brian Kinsman helped select a cask of Scotch whisky that had been aging since New Year's Eve in 1955 — nearly the halfway point of Roberts' 110 years.

"We took 15 bottles, of which, four were kept by the family," Kinsman explains.

Eleven bottles remained — one for every decade of Roberts' life. Over the past year, Glenfiddich has been selling those bottles at charity auctions.

One sold for $94,000, purchased by an Atlanta-based whisky aficionado.

The company says that's a world record.

"We had a couple of drams with him afterwards," Kinsman says. "He was a lovely man, actually, and we had a good old chat."

The whisky was the star of the conversation, of course.

"It's absolutely beautiful," Kinsman says. "It's quite different from what you might imagine. You might imagine a very old whisky would taste really woody and oaky and quite powerful.

"And it's absolutely the opposite of that. It's very delicate. It's very floral and fruity. It's quite sweet. And it's just incredibly elegant."

The last of the 11 bottles will be on the auction block Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Kinsman, by the way, says he doesn't get tired of people asking whether all he does is drink all day — and he still laughs at the suggestion. On a typical day, he'll sample between 150 and 200 whiskies.

"I must stress, the vast majority — I'm just smelling them," he says. "Maybe tasting the odd one or two."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

Here's another story we heard about this past week. Janet Sheed Roberts - the granddaughter of William Grant, the founder of Glenfiddich whisky - lived to the ripe, old age of 110. She died earlier this year but last year, on her birthday, her family wanted to honor the 110th milestone.

BRIAN KINSMAN: We really wanted to mark the occasion, and so we looked through all our old stocks. And a really nice touch was, we were able to find this cask from 1955.

RAZ: That's Glenfiddich's malt master, Brian Kinsman. He helped select a cask of whisky - which was filled on New Year's Eve in 1955, halfway through Janet Sheed Roberts' life.

KINSMAN: Well, exactly. So by the time she was halfway, you know, this cask was being filled. And then another full 55 years passed by, and she's still going strong at 110.

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RAZ: The cask yielded 15 bottles. Roberts' family kept four. The other 11 - one for each decade of her life - have been sold at various charity auctions; one, for $94,000. Glenfiddich calls that a world record. Kinsman says it went to an Atlanta-based whiskey aficionado.

KINSMAN: And he was there, on the night, and we - you know, we had a couple of drams with him afterwards. And he was a lovely man, actually, and we had a good old chat. But he's very knowledgeable about whiskey, and was really keen to get this. I think he was pretty pleased.

RAZ: And yes, Kinsman has tried it.

KINSMAN: I have; I've been lucky enough to have tried it, yeah. And it really is - it's stunning. It's quite - quite different from what you might imagine. You might imagine a very old whiskey will taste really woody and oaky, and be quite powerful. And it's absolutely the opposite of that. It's very delicate. It's very floral and fruity. And it's quite sweet. And it's just incredibly elegant.

RAZ: The final bottle will be sold at auction this Tuesday, in Los Angeles. Kinsman, by the way, says he doesn't get tired of people asking whether all he does is drink all day.

KINSMAN: No, no. (LAUGHTER) That's kind of true, isn't it? (LAUGHTER)

RAZ: On a typical day, he'll sample between 150 and 200 whiskies.

KINSMAN: And I must stress, more - vast, vast majority of them, I'll have just - I'm smelling them, and maybe tasting the odd one or two. But it's quite analytical. You're kind of thinking quite deeply about it, and pulling apart all the flavors, and trying to be sure that you're happy, it's right. And so actually, it's really nice, in a bar, to pour a whiskey and just drink it; and just enjoy it for what it is, rather than think about it too much.

RAZ: That's Glenfiddich's malt master, Brian Kinsman.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.