A bottle to remember – OZY

slow burning

Whiskeys at a glance

The world of whiskey is full of extremely long aging processes and extremely limited releases. Distillers pay the toll of the “angels’ share”, referring to the loss of volume due to evaporation and what is absorbed into the barrel itself. The whiskey sold on the shelves of the grocery store or local liquor store has versions that easily exceed thousands of dollars. And it doesn’t even come in the limited run versions which can easily be more expensive. Single malt whiskey is the best choice and is popular with whiskey drinkers. As a result, many distilleries tend to blend their whiskey to cut costs, as traditional single malt can easily drive up costs.

The usual suspects

What makes whiskey so expensive isn’t the manufacturing process, but like many things these days, it’s the brand recognition. Those in the scene know the names of great distilleries such as Old Rip Van Winkle, Macallan or Michter’s. These whiskey producers make some of the most expensive whiskeys on the market. Old Rip Van Winkle makes the highly sought-after Pappy Van Winkle, which can fetch prices of $2,000 a bottle. Scottish distillery Macallan recently unveiled its oldest expression to date, an 81-year-old single malt Scotch whisky. Finally, Michter’s has the distinction of being the oldest American whiskey company that has a number of limited-run bottles, with some of their own variations priced at over $10,000.

Liquid gold for sale

Most rare bottles are sold at auction with bids easily exceeding their original retail value or even their estimated value. The auction of rare bottles is commonplace. It may seem unbelievable that a bottle of Macallan sells for over $100,000, but that’s not even the highest price sold at auction. In 2019, a bottle of Macallan 1926 60 Year Old sold for nearly $2 million at auction.

Grapes of Wrath

A numbers game

The vintage or the year the grapes were picked is one of the main factors that determine what makes wine expensive. In addition to the year, there are a variety of countries and regions within those countries which also determine the final cost. Unlike many whiskeys, it is usually the region and the vintages that matter rather than the brands. Every year is different for spherical harvesting, and some years may be worse than others. For some wineries, one year might have been plagued by frost, while the next year was the perfect condition for them. Overall, the vintage is important for the consumption of the fermented drink.

eye for style

In addition to vintage, there are also styles to pay attention to. Everything from crisp, refreshing whites to full-bodied reds and everything in between is important to the final price. But again, the region comes into play for style. For example, California is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignons, while France is known for its Bordeaux. In addition to style, aging is also a factor. While it is generally accepted to age red wines, whites do not age very well and should be consumed within a few years of their original vintage. Of course, it all depends on the style of wine, which makes style important.

Wines at auction

It’s no surprise that wines, like whiskeys, also fetch exuberant prices at auction. The wines can easily sell for up to $400,000, putting them alongside their alcoholic brethren. A six-liter bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon made by Glass Slipper Vineyard sold for a record $1 million in November last year at a charity auction. In addition to the sale of bottles only, whole cases and even kegs are also sold. Wine auctions happen all the time and the attention they get is commendable.

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The unusual

Beers for years

Just like wine and whiskey, beer has also become a highly sought after commodity. The beer can be just as well crafted, aged and made into a limited run. Although not as expensive, the world of beer has burst onto the coveted auction market. A bottle of Cantillon’s 1998 Loerik sold for $2,583 at auction in 2014. The idea of ​​limited-run vintages is what makes these bottles extremely sought after besides the brand name. There are even people who are willing to queue for hours to get a glass of the famous Pliny the Younger brewed by Russian River.

The Holy Spirit

A recent resurgence of speakeasies has caused a stir for expertly crafted cocktails featuring only the finest spirits. Some places offer a relaxed environment with a classic touch, while others put on quite a show. Regardless of venue, one can expect craft-inspired cocktails using a wide range of spirits. Whether it’s a classic Manhattan or something the resident mixologist has created in his own style, there’s sure to be a tasty treat in store for the customer.

Sharing is caring

Another trend that is gaining popularity is bottle sharing. These evenings are usually reserved for beer, but can easily be reserved for other spirits. The idea is for people to come together and share their rare bottles of wine, whisky, beer, whatever they have. Drinking an entire bottle for yourself is a bit selfish after all, why not share that bottle with other like-minded people? These parties can range from the extremely rare to a simple act of “hey, let’s drink some good stuff.” Although there are no strict rules for bottle sharing parties, it is generally accepted that you should at least bring your own drink to share.


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Cathy W. Howerton