The biddies turn from super expensive cult wines to even more expensive rare whiskeys. Tune in to learn which whiskeys command top dollar prices and why!


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Dekanta, “The Story of Karuizawa”

Club Oenologique, “Komoro Distillery: The Next Chapter in Karuizawa’s Whisky Story”

The Whisky Exchange, “Karuizawa: What Makes it The World’s Rarest Whisky?”

Fine + Rare, “Everything You Need to Know About Karuizawa”

Whisqiy, “Six Reasons Why Macallan Whiskies Are So Expensive” 

Irish Post, “The Most Expensive Whiskey in The World”

Forbes, “What to Know About Pappy Van Winkle

Whiskey Raiders, “Why Pappy Van Winkle is so Rare and Coveted”

Tasting Table, “Why is Pappy Van Winkle So Expensive?”

Study Notes for Rare Whiskeys:

*Please note that some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from sources above

Pappy Van Winkle

  • Produced by the an Winkle family in partnership with Buffalo Trace distillery
    • Buffalo Trace has been in the business for over 200 years
    • Located in Frankfort, KY and has been in operation since 1773
    • Also produces Eagle Rare, George T Stagg and Blanton’s
  • Only a limited number of bottles are released each year
  • Wheated bourbon mashbill using more than 51% corn – easy to drink
  • Aged for a minimum of 10 years, also have 15, 20 and 23 year bottlings
    • 23-year aged whiskey auctions for over $50K reg
    • Old Rip Van Winkle 25-yr old bottle, bottled 1989 goes for $65k
  • Name Pappy comes from an original whiskey maker
    • Julian P. “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. was a man who was true to the craft of bourbon making. His mantra was, “We make fine bourbon at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always fine bourbon.” 
    • Pappy’s involvement with bourbon began in 1893 as a traveling salesman for W.L. Weller and Sons.
      • He and another salesmen bought W.L. Weller and Sons in 1915
      • Stitzel-Weller quickly became known for its wheated bourbon recipe, using wheat instead of rye in the mash for a softer, smoother taste
      • Pappy remained highly involved with the production until he died in 1965, at the age of 91.
  • Anthony Bourdain was a big fan
    • “If God made Bourbon, this is what he’d make,” said chef Anthony Bourdain in a 2012 episode of The Layover.
  • In 2013, Netflix doc “The Heist” about $500K worth of bourbon being stolen from Buffalo Trace distillery only made the bourbon more popular
  • Counterfeiting issue:
    • Buffalo Trace and the Van Winkle family spent $500,000 between October 2016 and October 2017 to stop online sales of counterfeit Pappy.
  • William Larue Weller Kentuckey Straight Bourbon whiskey supposedly uses the same mash bill. Still expensive at a few K

Karuizawa Japanese Whisky

  • Japanese whisky has been an explosive category recently
  • Whiskey distilled near the snow-capped, active volcano Mount Asama in Japan
    • Located on the southern slopes of one of Japan’s most active (category A) volcanoes
      • Cold snowy winters and summers with up to 80% humidity created a specific atmospheric conditions that were ideal for whisky maturation
  • Karuizawa is a popular resort town and vacation area for people from Tokyo 
  • Original distillery was built in 1956 and produced sherry cask-matured whiskey that was most used in blends
    • First vintage was released in 1971
    • Prided themselves on tradition whisky methods by importing golden barley from Scotland and sherry casks from Spain
      • In 1958 the import restrictions were relaxed so they were able to start getting higher quality barley including “Golden Promise” – what Macallan used at the time
    • Water that was used flowed through lava giving it an exceptionally peculiar taste
    • All were blends until the late 1980s when it started making single malts
      • This became the moment where it’s reputation started to grow in Japan but very little of the product left the country
    • Their company mission became their undoing
      • The idea of using traditional methods and only the best ingredients proved commercially unsustainable. 
      • Ceased production in 2001
      • 2006 – the distillery’s owner was called Mercian was acquired by drinks giant Kirin and in 2011 Karuizawa’s distilling license was returned with hopes of it reopening
      • In 2016, distillery was scrapped and demolished
      • In 2007, however, an independent bottler “Number One Drinks” started bottling single casks of whisky from the distillery and importing them to Europe which floored drinkers from around the world causing orders to roll in
        • They had purchased the rest of the single malt barrels
  • Original stock was acquired by private parties and sold at extremely high prices
  • In March 2020, a bottle of 52-year old Karuizawa became the most expensive Japanese whisky sold at auction, fetching 363,000 pounds at Sotheby’s in London
    • It was one of only 41 bottles in existence of Karuizawa 52 year old cakes #5627 Zodiac Rat 1960
    • In 2020 a 250mL bottle of Karuizawa 1960 47-year old whisky sold for more than triple its estimated sale price at almost $160,000
  • Karuizawa Distillery is coming back to life with the launch of Karuizawa Distillers – a company hoping to bring first class whisky making back to the region with the launch of Komoro Distillery

Macallan Whiskey: The Brand with the Most Expensive Whiskeys

  • Macallan is the second or third best selling single-malt scotch whisky brand in the world and also one of the world’s most expensive
    • Even their core range starts at $100
  • Made from the best barley grains; distilled in small pot stills versus columns; from a very finely cut distillate (the part between the head and the tails); matured in high quality casks; the color is 100% natural; well branded and marketed
  • Macallan 1926 (60 Year Old) – sold for $2.3 million
    • Part of a 24 bottle limited edition series
    • Distilled in 1926 and sat in ex-sherry casks in Scotland for 60 years until 1986 when it was bottled
    • Bottle was hand painted by renowned Irish artist Michael Dillon (only bottles he ever hand painted)
  • Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 – sold for $1.7 million at Bonham’s whiskey sale in Edinburg, Scotland in October 2018
    • Bottle was designed and crafted by artist Valerio Adami
    • Limited edition, only 24 bottles released and only 12 had Valerio Adami’s name against them
    • Also bottled in 1926 and bottled after 60 years in 1986
  • Macallan “M” – sold for $964,200
    • Hand blown decanter created as much value as the whiskey did
    • Took 17 craftsmen over 50 hours to complete the final bottle and only four “Constantine” bottlers were made
    • Whiskey aged in casks for 25-75 years