Raising a glass to the world’s rarest Scotch whiskies

Zoe Dickens

22 January 2021

Old, rare and highly-collectable, drams don’t come finer than this

22 January 2021 | Zoe Dickens

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hisky – a bit of an acquired taste, we’ll admit, but just like good olives and strong espresso, once you’ve found your love for liquid gold you’ll never look back. With Burns Night taking place on 25 January, we can’t think of a better excuse to wrap up Dry January a few days early and pour a dram of the good stuff in honour of Scotland’s national poet. And, when it comes to the really good stuff, few bottles can beat our curation of the world’s rarest and most exceptional single malt Scotch whiskies…

The Last Drop 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky

When it was founded in 2008, the mission of The Last Drop was simple: find the world’s finest spirits and share them with those who would truly appreciate them. Since then, the brand has created a catalogue of truly exceptional spirits, and among its rums and cognacs are some real Scotch whisky gems – many coming from casks that lay forgotten, gently ageing for decades before being uncovered.

Such was the case with this 1969 Glenrothes Single Malt. While the distillery in question is still going strong – and offers a fine 12-year-old for those with shallower pockets – The Last Drop’s bottling comes from a series of three casks dating from 1968, 1669 and 1970, which were discovered a few years ago. The 1969 was the second of the sibling whiskies to be released, with a limited run of just 271 bottles, making its debut in 2019 to rave reviews thanks to its ripe fruit, citrus and vanilla notes.

1969 Glenrothes Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £5,400, The Last Drop

Port Ellen 40-Year-Old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The second in Port Ellen’s collectable Untold Stories Series, this Single Malt is one of the oldest and rarest whiskies to come from the Islay distillery. Port Ellen has been closed since 1983, and although plans are in place to revive it, a basic 12-year-old is not expected until at least 2032. With all the original stills destroyed, this is one of the last chances to own a bottle from the revered distillery’s former incarnation.

Medium peated with a light character and unusual tropical notes, Justerini & Brooks is offering the Port Ellen 40-year-old as part of its Ultimate Rare Whisky Offering, complete with four complimentary 50cl rare whisky miniatures, a one-to-one tasting masterclass with J&B’s Head of Rare & Collectible Whiskies, Tod Bradbury, and a leather-bound 'The Pleasure of Rare Whisky' journal by Smythson.

Port Ellen 40-year-old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £5,416, Justerini & Brooks

Brora 40-Year-Old 200th Anniversary Single Match Scotch Whisky

Distilled on Scotland’s Sutherland coast in 1978, this whisky is the quintessential expression of the unique flavours of the Highlands. Bottled in a limited run of 1,819 pieces in honour of the distillery’s 200th anniversary, the golden hue of this whisky belies is classically smoky flavour, which is enhanced by a palate of figs and rich, ripe fruit. Another distillery that has lain dormant for the last three decades, Diageo recently announced plans to bring Brora back to life – but we highly recommend getting your measure of the original before it’s gone.

Brora 40-year-old 200th Anniversary Single Match Scotch Whisky, £4,500, The Whisky Shop

The Macallan 52-Year-Old 2018 Bottling

Considered by many to be the finest Scotch distillery in history, it isn’t often a bottle of this quality and age from the much-loved Macallan comes to market – and you’ll need accordingly deep pockets if you want to buy it. Aged in first-fill European oak sherry casks and part of an initial run of just 250 pieces, this particular bottle in question comes from a private collection, meaning the seller has just one available. We could tell you what it tastes like, but brave is the owner who dares break the seal on this investment-worthy bottle.

The Macallan 52-Year-Old 2018 Bottling, £79,995, Master of Malt

The Dalmore Constellation 1966 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

The star in The Dalmore’s celebrated Constellation Collection – a series of premium vintage whiskies created between 1964 and 1992 – this is a rich and fiery Highland whisky bottled at cask strength to retain its uniqueness and power. Opening on the nose with heady notes of citrus, spice and cocoa, this elegant spirit is fruity on the tongue with hints of mandarin mingling with sweet vanilla, caramel and chocolate. A collector’s edition that tastes as good as it looks.

The Dalmore Constellation 1966 Single Malt Scotch Whisky, £25,000, Harrods

Read more: The mixologists' guide to Dry January cocktails