Ardbeg smashes records with £16m cask sale

A cask of rare Scotch whisky has sold for £16 million to a private collector in Asia, smashing the previous world record of £1 million, according to a story in London newspaper The Financial Times.

The single malt, which dates to November 1975, was produced at the 207-year-old Ardbeg distillery on the island of Islay.

The £16 million cask, known as Cask No 3, sold for more than double the price that Ardbeg’s owner Glenmorangie Co, a subsidiary of LVMH, paid for the distillery and all of its stock in 1997.

The London newspaper said that 88 bottles, priced at about £36,000 each, will be drawn from the cask each year for the next five years and delivered to the Asian whisky enthusiast.

Glenmorangie CEO Thomas Moradpour told the newspaper the £16 million cask was a “source of pride” for the Ardbeg community on Islay, which had watched as the distillery came back from “the brink of extinction” to become “one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world”.

The Ardbeg distillery was mothballed throughout most of the 1980s and almost closed permanently in 1996 before being bought by Glenmorangie.

Few Ardbeg whiskies were left that had been distilled before 1981. The £16 million cask is the oldest whisky ever released by the distillery.

“I’ve really only tasted a whisky like this two or three times in my career,” said Bill Lumsden, head of distilling and whisky creation at Ardbeg.

“It has an emotional, comforting quality to it I find hard to put into words.”

Lumsden said that 1970s casks left in the distillery’s warehouses can be counted “on just a few hands”.

He said the “vast majority” of whisky from that era was put into blends so single malts are rare.

Whisky writer Charles MacLean called the cask “a remarkable piece of liquid history”.

Maclean said: “The factors which make a particular whisky investable are threefold: rarity, flavour and variety.

“And collectors do love Scotch, because of the provenance and history.”

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Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.