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  • - [Ju] This whisky costs $30,000.

  • It's a single malt.

  • Single malt whisky is one of the most

  • revered spirits in the world.

  • It's exclusively made from barley,

  • which is quite a cheap product.

  • So how does one bottle get to be so expensive?

  • Over the past 50 years, single malts

  • have become increasingly popular.

  • Scottish single malt exports grew by 14.2% in 2017,

  • to just over $1.5 billion.

  • One of the main players in the single malt market

  • is Glenfiddich, whose parent company

  • achieved a 1.2 billion pound turnover last year.

  • - [Ian] We are selling 1.2 million 9-liter cases

  • of Glennfiddich around the world.

  • We have 180 markets around the world

  • that we generally service.

  • In 1963, we started to commercially sell

  • single malt, but also to promote it actively

  • outside of Scotland.

  • But we gave the single malt category

  • the biggest push it's ever had in its life.

  • - [Ju] We were fortunate enough

  • to try a 12-year-old bottle, worth $36,

  • and a 50-year-old vintage, worth $30,000.

  • - [Ju] The 12-year-old whisky was certainly

  • sweet and pleasant to drink,

  • but I was expecting the more expensive bottle

  • to taste out of this world to justify its price.

  • - [Ju] Wow, really distinct.

  • - [Ian] You can taste much more European oak in this one.

  • - [Ju] Yeah, the distinction between the flavors

  • I think is a lot smoother and lot oakier.

  • There seems to be truth that the longer the alcohol

  • is in there, the smoother it tastes,

  • so the more deserving of the expensive price.

  • But that can't be the only thing

  • that justifies one bottle being

  • close to $29,000 more than another.

  • Another reason is that making single malt

  • is an extremely difficult process to get right.

  • Barley is ground down and added to spring water.

  • Heated to 64 degrees Celsius, it turns to sugar,

  • dissolving into a fine sweet, tangy liquid called wort.

  • The wort is drained, cooled, and passed into washbacks.

  • This is heated and condensed in copper wash stills

  • for its first distillation,

  • and a second time in spirit stills.

  • The spirit trickles into the spirit safe,

  • ready for maturation,

  • and then it's batched in casks with spring water.

  • Casks spend years in the warehouse

  • maturing into a single malt.

  • - [Ian] So the secret to the quality

  • of single malt is consistency.

  • You've got to nail down your production

  • so that your unique spirit comes off exactly the same,

  • and you have a spirit quality team that are

  • actively looking at [that], and we also nose

  • the unique spirit on-site as well.

  • - [Ju] But there's more.

  • An age 30 maturation can have 30% to 40%

  • of the alcohol evaporated in the barrel,

  • or 1% each year of the whisky's life.

  • This is because of something called 'angel's share,'

  • the natural evaporation of the liquid

  • into the atmosphere over time.

  • So older whiskies are expensive

  • not just because they're old

  • but because there's less of them left.

  • There's one more factor we haven't

  • touched upon yet: status.

  • - [Ian] It's all about the equity of the brand

  • and the perception of the consumer

  • about how much they're prepared to pay for our brands.

  • I think, in general, younger people want quality.

  • They want good shoes, good clothes,

  • nice cars, nice houses, and they want

  • to be drinking single malt.

  • - [Ju] And it's not just store-bought bottles.

  • One factor that's driving up the price

  • of single malts is a booming collector's market.

  • A bottle of the Macallan 1926 60-year-old

  • recently sold for $1.5 million in auction,

  • marking the largest single sale ever for a bottle.

  • Christie's international director of wine,

  • Tim Tiptree, oversaw the sale.

  • - It was one of 40 bottles produced from a single cask

  • that was distilled in 1926 and then bottled in 1986.

  • It was a hand-painted bottle,

  • so I think it does add a little to the desirability,

  • but it's the intrinsic quality of the whisky

  • inside the bottle that is driving the demand.

  • - [Ju] But scotch has some serious competitors.

  • Alongside China, India, Taiwan,

  • Ireland, Japan is one of the world's

  • major producers of unblended whiskies.

  • - "For relaxing times, make it Suntory time."

  • - [Ju] You might have heard of 'Suntory time.'

  • Suntory own the Yamazaki Distillery in Osaka Prefecture.

  • The rarity of their produce drove prices sky high.

  • - The Japanese have come to the fore,

  • about four or five years ago, one of their whiskies

  • a Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world,

  • and that created a lot of noise

  • around the Yamazaki single malt.

  • But Yamazaki's owned by Suntory,

  • and the bulk of what they produce goes to blends,

  • so they had insufficient whisky in their warehouses

  • to actually continue on the success of what

  • Yamazaki achieved in that one year.

  • What dictates the price, the value of a whisky sometimes

  • is the exclusivity, so the less there was,

  • it drove the price up to the point

  • where Yamazaki was being sold off at three,

  • four times the normal value.

  • - [Ju] But blended whiskies can

  • also reach quite a high price.

  • Will they ever be as expensive as single malt?

  • - We don't normally sell much blended whisky

  • in our auctions, single malts are much more rare,

  • they are much more individualistic so,

  • whereas blended whisky is typically,

  • generally more produced in larger volumes

  • and also is more homogenous in the actual

  • style and taste profile.

- [Ju] This whisky costs $30,000.

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B1 UK malt whisky single expensive spirit price

Why Single Malt Whisky Is So Expensive | So Expensive

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    day posted on 2020/05/08
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