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Extravagant Whisky Releases of 2022 & 2023

Updated: Mar 3


Extravagant whisky decanters

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


Luxury is a desirable trait in any product, including whisky. As a result, many companies are now creating innovative and extravagant presentations for their high-end whiskies. In recent years, producers have collaborated with sculptors and visual artists to create some of the most luxurious designs ever.


In 2022 and 2023, these producers brought their best game to the table and produced some of the most exquisite and exclusive whisky bottles that most of us can only dream of owning.


Let us explore.



 

Dalmore Luminary No.1 - 2022 Edition


Dalmore Luminary No.1 - 2022 Edition

Image by Dalmore


In 2022, Dalmore introduced a new limited edition series called Luminary, with Sotheby's auction house in mind. The series was co-created by Richard Paterson and Greg Glass from Whyte & MacKay, along with globally renowned architect Kengo Kuma and his protégé Maurizio Mucciola. The release is presented with a designer sculptor. Kengo Kuma is also known as the architect of V&A Dundee, Scotland's art museum, which established a working partnership with Dalmore in 2020.


The first of three releases is called 'The Rare' Luminary No.1, which was aged for 48 years. The whisky was initially aged in ex-bourbon casks, Matusalem and Apostle sherry butts, and port pipes. The already well-aged whisky was finished in a combination of Scottish and Mizunara oak casks. The oak types are also present in 48 diamond-shaped pieces accompanied by polished metal.


Since this is an ultra-rare release, only three bottles were created. The first bottle was sold at Sotheby's auction on November 16th, 2022, for £118,750. The second bottle is kept at The Dalmore's Highland House, and the third will be included in a one-off set after all three expressions have been released.


To accompany the launch, Dalmore also released a 15-year-old expression called 'The Collectible', which retails for around £250. The expression was finished in 'Kintsugi' casks, specially crafted from Scottish Tay oak, Mizunara and American white oak for the release. The expression was limited to 15,000 bottles worldwide.

Dalmore Luminary 15 year old The Collectible

Image by Whisky Auctioneer



 

Ardbeg The Rollercoaster


Ardbeg Rollercoaster

Image by Ardbeg/ The Whisky Ardvark


'The Rollercoaster' is not to be confused with Ardbeg's release of 'Rollercoaster' in 2010. It is a set of two rare whisky bottles showcasing the distillery's turbulent past.


In the 1970s, Ardbeg experienced a brief moment of success under the ownership of Hiram Walker, which took over the distillery in 1973. However, the distillery was mothballed in the early 1980s, with production ceasing on March 25th, 1981. It was later restored in 1989 by Allied Lyons, only to be closed down again seven years later. Finally, Glenmorangie plc restored the distillery for good.


Dr Bill Lumsden created 'The Rollercoaster' to mark the end of an era and the start of a new one in Ardbeg's history. The first bottle is a 42-year-old lightly peated expression made with malt from the distillery's maltings, which closed in 1977. The whisky was drawn from a single Oloroso sherry cask, numbered 1/1981, combined from the last ex-bourbon casks laid to rest in 1981 before the closure.


The second bottle represents a new beginning in the distillery's history and holds the 33-year-old liquid from some of the first ex-bourbon barrels to be filled after the reopening. The whisky was made with slightly peated malt from Port Ellen maltings and married in a single refill bourbon cask numbered 17/1989.


Craftsman John Galvin designed the Scottish oak case with copper detailing, in which the two bottles are presented. Only 143 sets were created, of which 30 were made available during the launch in 2023. The retail price was set at £85,000, giving an elite of whisky enthusiasts the chance to taste the history of Ardbeg.


 

Highland Park 54yo


Highland Park 54 year old

Image by Highland Park/ The Whisky Ardvark


Highland Park announced the release of its oldest whisky expression ever in February 2023, and it became available at select outlets in February 2024. The whisky was distilled in 1968 and is 54 years old. The master whisky maker Gordon Motion created it by selecting ten refill casks in 2008. The already 40-year-old whisky was laid into first-fill sherry-seasoned casks for an extra 14 years.


To commemorate Highland Park distillery's 225th anniversary, only 225 bottles were created. Glasgow-based craftsman John Galvin designed the unique boxes, while Michael Rudak designed the bottle. The suggested retail price of the whisky is £39,000, making it a luxury item that only a few can afford. However, each buyer is invited by Motion to visit Orkney at any time they please.



 

The World Whisky Society - The Reserve Collection


The World Whisky Society - The Reserve Collection

Image by The World Whisky Society/ The Whisky Ardvark


The World Whisky Society is an independent bottler based in the US that few people in the UK are familiar with, including us. Though not much information about its origins and location is available, it was established in 2020 and is represented by Aiko Importers in Georgia, US. We wanted to include this bottler in our list because of their captivating decanters dedicated to Scotch whiskies bottled under The Reserve Collection. At present, there have been four expressions released in these decanters:


Aultmore 1990, 32-year-old

Strathmill 32-year-old

Macallan 31-year-old Oloroso Sherry Cask, Limited to 71 bottles - Retail Price $10,000

Macallan 1990, 32-year-old Refill Hogshead, Limited to 120 bottles - Retail Price $10,000


 

Eagle Rare 25-Year-Old


Eagle Rare 25 year old

Image by The Whisky Ardvark


In October 2023, Buffalo Trace distillery surprised many bourbon enthusiasts by announcing the release of one of their oldest expressions, the Eagle Rare 25-Year-Old.


The suggested retail price for the Eagle Rare 25-Year-Old was $10,000 (~£8,250) at the time of release. The bottling was limited to only 200 bottles worldwide and bottled at an original 101 Eagle Rare proof. The whiskey is presented in a silver-laced box and a silver-wrapped crystal glass decanter, making it a highly collectable item.


Buffalo Trace Distillery has invested $20 million in its experimental program over the years. The 25-year-old bourbon was aged in Warehouse P, one of two state-of-the-art experimental warehouses on site, under the guidance of master distiller Harlen Wheatley. The distillery promises that this release will be a smooth, old bourbon unlike any other. This release is even more interesting because it was distilled before 1999 when Buffalo Trace was still known as George T. Stagg Distillery.



 

Royal Salute - Forces of Nature


Royal Salute - Forces of Nature

Image by Travelux Magazine


In 2022, Royal Salute, a blended whisky brand owned by Pernod Ricard, announced the launch of a new collection named The Art of Wonder. For the first release, 'Forces of Nature', the company collaborated with London-based artist Kate MccGwire, known for creating art using feathers.


The bottle was hand-engraved and gilded in 24-carat gold by Dartington Crystal and contains a rare blend that has been aged for 53 years. The set comes with a custom Scottish oak cabinet and an original art piece by MccGwire. Only 21 sets of this limited edition are available worldwide, and owning one costs around £70,000.

 

Royal Salute - Time Chamber


Royal Salute - Time Chamber

Images by Royal Salute


In 2023, Royal Salute released the second edition of their collection, ' The Art of Wonder', called 'Time Chamber'. For this release, they partnered with British artist Conrad Shawcross, known for his complex and mesmerising mechanical structures that play with balance and physics.


The Time Chamber is a crystal decanter with a hand-spun glass plate and an oak spindle, creating a gyro-top-like ensemble. The release pattern follows the form already set by the first edition. The bottle features 53-year-old Royal Salute blended whisky, and only 21 decanters were produced. However, this time, the suggested retail price was around £94,000.



 

Old Pulteney Bow Wave 45 Years Old


Old Pulteney Bow Wave 45 Years Old

Images by Sotheby's


This limited edition one-off bottle of Old Pulteney whisky was created for the annual Distiller's One-of-One charity auction hosted by Sotheby's. The whisky was aged 40 years in American oak casks before being finished for five years in a single first-fill Spanish oak cask. The result is a 45-year-old malt whisky, the oldest release ever from the distillery.


The set includes a 1.5-litre egg-shaped bottle, handblown by Brodie Nairn, and a 10cl miniature. The bottle is surrounded by Scottish silverware crafted by local silversmith Lucy Woodley.


The bottle was auctioned off on October 5th, 2023, and sold for a bid of £68,750.

 

Brora 50-Year-Old - Iris


Brora 50-Year-Old - Iris

Images by Sotheby's


At the Distiller's One-of-One 2023 charity auction, one of the entrees was the oldest-ever bottled Brora. The distillery was closed in 1983 but was recently revived by its owner, Diageo. This unique 50-year-old bottle of Brora was distilled in 1972 and aged for five decades in a combination of American hogsheads and European oak butts. After that, it was married for 12 months before being bottled.


The Iris capsule decanter is suspended on a one-of-a-kind stone sculptor by Scottish artist Michelle De Bruin. The set comes with a bronze wildcat figure, a key made by Jonathan Knight. The set includes the bottle as well as a luxury tour for the winner and five of their friends at the new Brora distillery. It fetched a record price of £400,000.




 

Bowmore STAC 55-Year-Old


Bowmore STAC 55-Year-Old

Images by Sotheby's


This is a hand-blown 1.5-litre glass bottle of 55-year-old Bowmore whisky from Islay. The whisky was distilled in 1962 and aged for over five decades in a refill American oak hogshead. The one-off bottling was inspired by the sea stacks of the island and was named STAC. It was sold for £562,500 in Sotheby's One-of-One Distillers charity auction 2023.


 

Glen Grant 70-Year-Old


Glen Grant 70 year old Devotion

Image by Sotheby's


Nicknamed 'Devotion', this artistically displayed bottle of 70-year-old single malt from Glen Grant distillery was created to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 70-year-long reign. Only seven of these shadow-casting decanters were created, with bottle No.1 auctioned by Sotheby's for charity in 2023. The bottle was sold for £81,250. The remaining six bottles were made available in selected markets around the world.


The display was co-created by master distiller Dennis Malcolm OBE, craftsman John Galvin and glassmaker Brodie Nairn. The whisky itself was distilled in 1953 and drawn from a single Oloroso sherry-seasoned French oak butt. Bottled at natural cask strength, it holds an ABV of 55.5%.



 

Glen Grant 68-Year-Old


Glen Grant 68 year old

Images by Sotheby's


'The Visionary' is a one-of-a-kind single malt whisky from Glen Grant, distilled in 1955 and aged for 68 years in a single Oloroso sherry butt, cask No.835. It comes in a hand-blown battuto-cut magnum decanter, displayed in a glass cylinder adorned with stone Malachite and copper detailing. It was sold at Sotheby's One-of-One Distillers 2023 charity auction for £212,500.

 

Glenturret 'Eight Decades' James Turrell Lalique


Glenturret 'Eight Decades' James Turrell Lalique

Image by The Glenturret/ The Whisky Ardvark


Glenturret's whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno, created 'Eight Decades' to honour the career of James Turrell, an American artist known for his use of light and space. There are only 80 bottles of this limited edition single malt worldwide. The whisky is a blend of eight casks distilled between 1987 and 1998. The suggested retail price for the Lalique crystal decanter was £80,000 at the time of its release in 2023.



 

Glenturret Black Crystal


Glenturret Black Crystal

Image by The Glenturret/ The Whisky Ardvark


A total of 150 black Lalique crystal decanters containing the 50-year-old Glenturret were made available worldwide in 2022. The whisky was obtained from a single refill sherry cask dating back to 1972. The very first bottle, featuring artwork by Matthew Draper, was sold at Sotheby's inaugural auction dedicated exclusively to Scotch whiskies presented in Lalique crystal decanters. The successful bidder offered £63,000 for the bottle, with the following bottles set for sale initially for £40,000 (the price has now risen to £50,000).


 

Glenfiddich Time Re:Imagined Series


Glenfiddich Time Re:Imagined Series

Image by Glenfiddich


In late 2022, Glenfiddich announced the release of their 'Time Re:Imagined' collection. This premium rare single malt collection comprises three whiskies aged 30, 40 and 50 years, respectively.


The 30-year-old whisky, named 'Suspended Time', comes in a ribboned casing priced at approximately £1,000.


The 40-year-old whisky, 'Cumulative Time', is presented in a sculptural peek-a-boo Jesmonite vessel that replicates the effect of stone. The decanter is priced between £4,000 and £4,700 in retail.


The 50-year-old whisky, 'Simultaneous Time', has been vatted from only three refill American oak casks from Glenfiddich's warehouses. It's presented in a container designed by data artist Manuel Jimenez Garcia, with a crystal hand-blown decanter topped with an aluminium stopper. This exclusive whisky comes with a price tag of £37,000.



 

Midleton Pinnacle


Midleton Pinnacle

Image by Midleton / The Whisky Ardvark


Midleton launched a premium range of whiskies called the ‘Silent Distillery Collection’ in 2020. In addition to this range, they have also released a single bottle of ‘The Pinnacle Vintage NFT’. This exclusive whisky is made by combining a portion from each of the 40 annual Midleton Very Rare expressions and a cask sample of traditional single pot still distilled in 1984.


The one-off decanter will be sold at blockbar.com on the 28th of February, 2024, for $130,000 (~£102,000).


 

The Aodh


The Craft Irish Whiskey Co The Aodh

Image by The Craft Irish Whiskey Co / The Whisky Ardvark


The Craft Irish Whiskey Co., the independent bottler that created 'The Emerald Isle' Irish whiskey a couple of years ago, has recently launched a limited single malt release called 'The Aodh'. This whiskey was drawn from two small, custom-built casks that were used to finish the whiskey for two years. It is unclear how old the original whiskies were. Only 88 bottles of 'The Aodh' are available for purchase.


The decanter for 'The Aodh' was co-created in 2022 by whiskey master Jay Bradley and chief designer Tiago Russo. The bottle design was inspired by hedonism and features gold detailing, inset gemstones, and frost cuts. The set also includes a ring made with 18-carat gold and designed by jeweller JM Jones. The retail price of this exclusive set was set at £80,000 per set (without tax and shipping) at the time of release.




 

Glenrothes Philos


Glenrothes Philos

Image by Glenrothes


What could be more relatable than a bottle of whisky designed to be enjoyed in a luxury yacht? We guess, this set-up was released with a specific type of customer in mind.


The Glenrothes 'Philos' is a bottle of whisky designed for luxury yacht enthusiasts. The name "Philos" is inspired by the Greek engineer Philos of Byzantium, who invented the gimbal around 250 BC. The vessel was created by aerospace engineers and designed by Studio Indigo and Little Halstock.


The whisky inside the bottle has been aged for at least 44 years and is decanted into six glass containers, then drawn from Demijohn 1969. The inaugural release was announced in 2023 and will be available at various events during 2024. Customisable future commissions are also available, but the price of the vessel has not been made public yet.


 

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