The ‘holy grail’ of whiskey just sold for $1 million. But is it any good?

A bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 whiskey sold for a record $1.5 million at auction. The whiskey, bottled 60 years ago, is a rare collectors piece.
A bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 whiskey sold for a record $1.5 million at auction. The whiskey, bottled 60 years ago, is a rare collectors piece. NBC News Broadcast/Screenshot

This is one bottle of booze you’re not likely to find at the package store down the street.

On Wednesday, someone ponied up $1.1 million for a single bottle of rare whiskey at an auction in Scotland, setting a world record, The Guardian reported.

The drink, a Macallan Valerio Adami 1926, was first distilled in 1926, then sat in a vat for 60 years before it was finally poured into just 24 bottles, according to the paper.

“The Macallan 1926 60-year-old has been described as the Holy Grail of whisky,” said the Bonham auction house’s whiskey expert Martin Green, according to Drinks Bulletin. “Its exceptional rarity and quality puts it in a league of its own, and the world’s most serious whisky collectors will wait patiently for many years for a bottle to come onto the market.”

The whiskey gets its name from the pop artist who designed its label, Valerio Adami, according to the BBC. Only 12 bottles bearing his artwork were produced, and it is unknown how many remain, according to the site.

The buyer, who has not been named, placed a bid by telephone for about $900,000, plus a premium, according to The New York Times. The only thing known about the buyer was that they were from Asia, according to the paper.

“Active bidding came in from around the world but we saw new bidders from South-east Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, reflecting the growing appetite and appreciation for whiskey among Asian collectors,” said the auction house’s head of fine wine and whiskey in Hong Kong, according to The Guardian.

But there’s still the burning question — just what the heck does a $1 million bottle of booze taste like?

“Obviously, after spending 60 years in cask it’s going to be quite dark in colour — amber, a bit of mahogany in there. And then you’ll get some of the spices from the wood, little hints of vanilla, potentially some nutty characteristics, cinnamon, Christmas cake…. All sorts of different flavours,” said Tim Triptree, Christie’s international director of wine, according to the auction house. “And then the length — how long the flavours persist in the mouth — is going to be exceptional, and just reinforce all the aromas that you’re smelling.”

At least one man, however, has firsthand experience.

“When I tasted it, the whisky was quite intense, dry, and tasted of dried fruit with some hint of warming spice,” said David Robertson, a former master distiller at the Macallan, according to The New York Times. “But I had to try a lot of whiskies over the years and in my humble opinion, there were a number that were better than this one.”

So what happens now?

“Obviously we don’t know what will happen to (the bottle), but anyone who can spend around a million pounds for a bottle of whiskey could afford to drink it,” Green said, according NBC News. “But it’s an object of beauty in its own right — almost a museum piece.”

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