A Bottle Of The World's Most Valuable Whisky Is About To Hit Sotheby's Auction

The world of premium whiskeys and bourbons is already a place of eye-popping prices, where the most sought-after bottles can go for tens of thousands of dollars as soon as they're released. But even those five-figure numbers have nothing on the bottle of whisky that's about to be auctioned off at Sotheby's in November of 2023. 

The auction house sold a rare bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon for $52,000 in 2022 and scored over a million dollars for a 6-bottle set of scotch from The Dalmore Distillery in 2021, and now it has the grand prize of the whisky world on its hands: a bottle of Macallan 1926. The estimated cost? Up to $1.4 million. according to Sotheby's. That may seem like an outrageous price for a bottle of booze, but the world of whiskey collecting is full of people with deep pockets and the Macallan 1926 is perhaps the rarest and most sought-after vintage in the world. 

A previous bottle of the Macallan sold by Sotheby's in 2019 fetched 1.5 million pounds — or roughly $1.9 million American — at the time. And that wasn't an outlier, either, as each of the last three times the Macallan 1926 has been auctioned off it set the world record for the priciest bottle of liquor. This new bottle is even more unique than those of past auctions, being the first one to ever be "reconditioned" by Macallan, which involved replacing the cork and capsule, repairing the label, and testing a sample for authenticity.

The Macallan 1926 is one of the rarest whiskys in the world

What makes the Macallan 1926 so special, even in the rarefied world of vintage whiskey? Only 40 bottles were ever produced, and it's also the oldest bottle Macallan had ever made at the time, being aged for 60 years in sherry casks. The original 40 bottles were released in 1986, but never went up for public sale. They were instead offered directly to top clients of Macallan, and have only occasionally appeared for sale at auction. 

The bottles were produced with four unique labels to further distinguish them. Fourteen received Macallan's "Fine and Rare" label, two were unlabeled, and 12 each received labels designed by pop artist Peter Blake and Italian painter Valerio Adami. The bottle up for auction is number 12 of the Adami-labeled whiskys.

Of course, a drink this valuable isn't made to be consumed. Of the 40 bottles that were produced, only one is known to have been actually opened and drunk. A second bottle is presumed to have been destroyed after the Japanese earthquake of 2011, and one more bottle has supposedly been lost altogether. That leaves just 37 bottles of Macallan 1926 for collectors to compete over. While it seems like a sad fate that such an impressive bottle of whisky may never be tasted, some investment opportunities are just too good to pass up.