If you’re a fan of whiskey, but not a connoisseur, you need to know a few things before we get to the good stuff.
There are six different types of whiskey.
A Scotch is made in Scotland from malted barley or grain with the spirit aged in oak casks for more than three years, although that’s referred to as a whisky, without the ‘e, thrown in.
My personal favourite, an Irish whiskey, is made in Eire (real Ireland) or Northern Ireland (fake Ireland) from yeast-fermented grain mash or a mash of malted cereals and takes about three years to age in a wooden cask.
Tennessee whiskey is produced in the US and is steeped in charcoal before going into the casks for fermentation.
Rye whiskey is primarily made in North America with a mash of at least 51 percent rye and is aged in charred barrels for at least two years.
Japanese whisky, produced in Japan, uses double malted or peated barley and is aged in a wooden cask.
Which brings us to bourbon, a distilled American whiskey, made from corn and stored in charred oak casks. It has a slightly sweet taste, is a bit smoky, and has a reddish colour due to fermentation in charred oak casks.
Remember that the next time you suavely ask the bartender for a “whiskey on the rocks”. They has no idea which one you’re talking about, so you might want to spell it out.
To return to bourbon, over the past 10 years, Michter’s Distillery has helped to revolutionise the American premium whiskey market, reports Forbes.
Now they’re breaking records.
Last week at a charity auction in London, they sold their first ever private barrel selection—a 10 Year Kentucky Straight—for nearly $210,000 [roughly R3,4 million].
“This is the highest price ever paid at an auction for a single barrel of Bourbon anywhere in the world, far exceeding previous records,” according to Justin Sloan, cofounder of Justins’ House of Bourbon—a Kentucky retailer specializing in rare and vintage bottlings.
Other auctioned bottles included a collection of their rarest releases: 20 Year and 25 Year Straight Bourbons, a 25 Year Straight Rye, and the coveted Celebration Sour Mash expression. ..
It’s not clear whether or not that particular age statement will ever become a regular part of the Michter’s lineup.
Even if it does, there are only a select few in the world who could afford to taste it.
If you’re looking to get your hands on your own cask of Michter’s anytime soon, don’t hold your breath. While other bourbon producers have leaned heavily into the practice—working with retailers, bars and even individual enthusiasts to issue private barrel offerings—this appears to be a one-and-done for the Michter’s folks. Which is, undoubtedly, what helped propel its price-tag into the stratosphere.
That makes sense. The rarer something is, the more you can charge for it.
The average 10-year-old barrel yields around 150 bottles of whiskey.
So, sold individually, each of the bottles extracted from this cask would still cost $1400. For Michter’s enthusiasts—and investors—this could be viewed as a relative bargain. A bottle of the supremely rare Celebration Sour Mash, which doesn’t even own an age statement (but is known to contain liquids between 25-30 years old) has been spotted on shelves for as much as $10,000.
Since 2013, it’s only been released on three separate occasions.
Yes, there are whiskey enthusiasts and collectors, who stock up on the rare stuff and then store it in cellars.
While you might not be able to afford a taste of the record-breaking stuff, you can take the time over lockdown, while booze sales are banned, to brush up on your knowledge.
That way, when the bars open, you can crush that first order.
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