Whisky Magazine Issue 68
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For most of us, so-called premium whiskies remain firmly in the realms of fantasy, whisky jewels to be enjoyed vicariously through shop brochures, product images and tasting notes. But who buys these bottles, and who, if anyone, actually drinks them? Richard Jones finds out more.
It was perhaps an apocryphal tale, a mythical story handed down between generations of Oddbins store staff. The kind of thing that would happily wile away a quiet Monday morning or, on occasion, provide a source of comfort in the face of dreary wages and the daily working hours.
Around the turn of the millennium Oddbins released an exclusive Bowmore 1964 single Oloroso sherry cask bottling at the dizzy price tag of £995. Just 95 bottles of this ridiculously rare malt were made available; a further four bottles were retained by the distillery as museum stock. One bottle was purchased by the father of a member of Oddbins staff at a store somewhere in the South of England (it's not in the nature of these tales to be too specific on details).
Legend has it that when said father arrived at the store to collect his bottle he did a truly remarkable thing. Rather than covertly stuffing the whisky inside his jacket and retiring to the safe confines of his home, he decided to crack open the bottle there and then. Nearly one thousand pounds worth of whisky was shared between father and Oddbins staff that evening in the spirit of generosity, education and conviviality. Allegedly.
However if Mr Oddbins Father could have gazed into the future he might not have been quite so charitable with his precious bottle.
According to Martin Green, whisky consultant and author of Collecting Malt Whisky A Price Guide, today the market for high end whiskies is ‘extremely buoyant'.
Prices have ri...