Weekend Sip: This 80-year-old Scotch could cost you more than $100,000, and is packaged in a special ‘oak pavilion’

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The bottle

Generations 80-Year-Old Scotch, valued at $100,000 to $200,000 for upcoming auction.

The back story

It’s not unusual to find single-malt Scotch whisky that’s been aged for more than 20 years. And there are examples of ones that go back 40 years.

But a Scotch that’s older than your grandparents? Now that’s unusual.

Gordon & MacPhail, a Scottish bottler and distiller, is indeed releasing a whisky with an 80-year age statement. Called Generations, it comes via the Glenlivet distillery. The story goes that on Feb. 3, 1940, the Urquhart family, owners of Gordon & MacPhail, had the vision to put the Glenlivet spirit in a special cask with the idea that it would indeed be aged for generations to come.

And the 80-year mark proved the time to release, according to Stephen Rankin, who holds the apt title of Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige. He notes that George Urquhart, the whisky scion who helped lead Gordon & MacPhail for many years, believed that “whisky should be left to mature until the moment it is ready.”

Gordon & MacPhail is making a big splash with the release, which is limited to 250 bottles. The first of these will be auctioned off on Oct. 7 through Sotheby’s in Hong Kong — the auction house is valuing the bottle at between $100,000 to $200,000. The remaining bottles will be sold directly through Gordon & MacPhail — the price is not being made public but is available by request, Rankin says.

Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige Stephen Rankin with the cask that stored the 80-year-old spirit

Gordon & MacPhail

Needless to say, the bottle comes in special packaging — specifically, a “crystal jewel-like decanter,” which in turn is housed in an “oak pavilion,” according to Gordon & MacPhail.

This remarkable bottle’s arrival comes at a time when there’s growing interest in investment-worthy whisky, with some collectors embracing rare and special bottles the way art collectors have done with significant paintings. A bottle of 60-year-old Macallan went for $1.9 million at auction in 2019, for example. Perhaps that makes this 80-year-old a bargain if it sells for a “mere” $100,000.

What we think about it

Yes, we got to taste this special dram — the Gordon & MacPhail team provided a very small sample, slightly more than a thimbleful, to members of the press. So, what does a whisky valued at the price of some starter homes taste like? Pretty damn good, to be sure.

It’s a rich, heady sip — not as “woody” as you might expect for something that’s been, well, sitting in wood for 80 years. But it’s got a properly hefty texture — or “oily,” as the Gordon & MacPhail team describe it. And it’s got notes of sweetness and spice — look for hints of salted plums, dates and figs, according to Gordon & MacPhail — with just a bit of mystery (and a menthol-like finish) in the mix.

Is it worth what it’s valued at by the auction house? That’s a question that can’t really be answered here. The truth is that you can find good booze, Scotch or American, for under $100, even under $50. This is more about a spirit as a statement in luxury or as a pure investment play — booze for the 1%, in other words.

How to enjoy it

If you can afford this, you can enjoy it in any way that pleases you, as far as we’re concerned. Have it neat, with a drop of water or mixed into the most expensive Scotch and soda ever created. The choice is yours …

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