All About The R16 Million Whisky Plus Our (Cheaper) Choices

The whisky was in a vat for 60 years before being bottled.

Nadim Nyker |

A dark bottle of whisky was auctioned off in Edinburgh, Scotland. Known as the world’s most expensive whisky, it fetched an incredible £848,000 (R16.4 million), and the buyer wasn’t even in the room, with the drop of the hammer coming from a telephone purchase.

Not only was it a 60-year-old bottle, but the Macallan’s price tag spoke to the bottle’s label, quite literally. Named the Macallan Valerio Adami, the label was designed in the 1980s by Valerio Adami, a renowned Italian painter.


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Of course, Adami’s mastery boosted the bottles value, but the Macallan was also only one of 24 bottles, now described as the “holy grail of whisky”. Bonhams whisky specialist, Martin Green, says, when it comes to the world’s most expensive whisky, it’s due to a combination of its rarity, vintage and unique artwork.

Related: 5 Reasons You Should Be Drinking Whisky – And The Best 3-Ingredient Cocktail

“The world’s most serious whisky collectors will wait patiently for many years for a bottle to come onto the market,” Green added.

Distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, Macallan commissioned pop artists Peter Blake and Valerio Adami to design labels for a limited edition of 24 bottles -12 Adami and 12 of Blake. According to Esquire, Blake also co-created the album cover for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.


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The Telegraph reports that the bottles were first used as gifts for Macallan’s most valued customers, and no one knows how many bottles still exist, with one said to have been destrooyed in a 2011 earthquake in Japan.

Related: An Experts Guide To Whisky (Plus, How & Why You Should Be Drinking It)

The BBC reports that another bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong in May, for a then world record £814,081 (R15.2 million). But not all bottles are about the business side of things, with at least one bottle of he world’s most expensive whisky said to have been opened and drunk.

Our Cheaper MH-Approved Choices

And on that note, we’re all about enjoying a good whisky. Earlier this year, MH interviewed Andy Watts, Africa’s only master distiller. “Whisky is a drink to savour. It’s not made in a rush so certainly shouldn’t be consumed in one,” he said.

Related: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Curse of Whiskey Dick

According to Watts, single malts aren’t suitable for beginners – which can be too powerful. We love our single malts, but if you’re a beginner, rather opt for blended whisky which is made by combining grain and malt whiskies. “They are lighter in style and yet flavourful and will start your journey on the right taste profile,” he says.

Here are some great whiskies from MH staffers; one thing’s for sure – they’re not half as pricey as the world’s most expensive whisky.

Glenfiddich 12 Year Single Malt


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Men's Health Editor, Arthur Jones, loves a premium whisky that's good value for money. “Glenfiddich’s 12-year old single malt is a premium whisky that won’t break the bank. It’s matured in oak sherry casks meaning every sip is sweet with subtle oak flavours.”

Glenfarclas Highland Single Malt 17 Year


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"A sweet, rich whisky, this one's my absolute favourite. Spoil yourself after a long day at the office, it also serves as a great dessert whisky," says MH Digital Editor Nadim Nyker. "It has notes of buttery toffee, and just when you're done sipping, it leaves a smokey after taste."

Glenlivet 15 Year Single Malt


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“Glenlivet’s 15-year-old single malt is one of the smoothest and easy to drink whiskies out there, says MH Creative Director Robert Cilliers. "Take in the deep gold colour and enjoy the aftertaste which is laced with traces of sweet almond and spice.”



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