You may be aware of the world’s most expensive liquors but do you know about the world’s most rare ones? Read to find out why these bottles have made it to our list. By Payal Das
Jenever hails from The Netherlands and is known as the ‘national spirit of Holland.’ It tastes much like gin and is flavoured with Juniper, but unlike it, is distilled like whiskey. In the early 19th century, the quantity of export of jenever to America became six times that of whiskey, but later, when English distillers subbed out the malt wine content, which basically forms the base for jenever, the drink became almost unavailable in the Western world. The spirit remains the national drink of the Netherlands, accounting for 25 per cent of all distilled spirits sold together, and has two forms: old (oude) and young (jonge), both different in taste and with different serving techniques. Jonge tastes like vodka, which is why the best way to serve it is ice cold, whereas Oude is known to have a malty flavour like whiskey, and therefore best served at room temperature. If you want the traditional spin on jenever, go for an ice-cold shot of jonge with a nice frothy lager or just try jenever and tonic!
Mezcal has a very similar taste to tequila and owes its origin to Mexico. The drink is made from the agave, a desert plant, and is colourless, just like more popular counterpart. The only reason this is on our rare list is because of the way it is made. Mezcal is made from the heart of the agave plant, which is extracted, roasted, mashed into a pulp and then barrelled for up to four years for fermentation. In the 1950s, a peculiar trend took over when a maguey worm was deliberately put in the bottles at the end of the production process to indicate the alcohol content in the bottle. Whether it was a marketing gimmick or not, if the worm rotted, it was a sign that the alcohol content was low. If it stayed perfectly pickled, the mezcal was stiff. In 2005, when the government put restrictions on the worm addition to increase exports and prove that it could compete with other international liquors, traditional mezcal producers fought to keep the worm in the bottles, sighting no difference in the actual quality of mezcal produced. Today, only the most traditional makers keep the worm in the bottle.
Known as the Brazilian rum, Cachaça is the most popular distilled alcohol in Brazil. It is made from fermented sugarcane juice. The reason for it being so rare is that only one percent of the 1.3 billion litres produced annually is exported out of Brazil. Cachaça comes in three versions: unaged (white), aged (gold), and dark ‘premium’ which is usually drank straight. Brazil’s national cocktail, Caiprinha is made with Cachaça, raw sugar and lime, poured over ice and served in an old-fashioned glass.
The Last Drop 1971 Blended Scotch Whiskey
The 1971 Blended Scotch was originally blended as a 12-year-old and bottled in 1983. The excess was taken back for further maturation in 11 Sherry butts. After nine years, a portion of this was bottled, and the remainder was transferred to American oak barrels and matured for 24 years! This ‘triple matured’ whiskey was finally introduced to the market in 2017 as a blend of over 40 single malt and grain whiskies. There are now less than 1,350 bottles in existence in the world today.
Glenfiddich 50-Year-Old Rare Collection Whiskey
A blend from two different casks, every year only 50 bottles of this 50-year-old Glenfiddich whiskeys are released. This whiskey features strong notes of rose and imparts a smokey taste. The light tannin defines the flavour profile which includes toffee, herbs, vanilla, orange marmalade, and a hint of peat leading into a long, dry finish.
1796 Napoleon Cognac
The 1796 Napoleon cognac is from the year of the French Revolution. James O’Tard fought alongside Louis X1V France when they were at the Bastille and this cognac was made by his grandson, Jean Baptiste Antoine Otard at his cognac trading house in 1795. The family already owned vineyards around the town of Cognac at the time, and were already distilling and ageing ‘eaux-de-vie’. This is one of the rarest liquors present in the world and very few have access to it.
Vermont White Vodka
The Vermont White Vodka is all about dairy and sugar. It is inspired by traditional Tuvan (Russian) milk vodka and distilled thrice from milk, sugar and Vermont spring water. Selected nutrients and yeasts are introduced by the distiller to create the lactose fermentation. The drink itself is crystal clear and extremely smooth and leaves you with an amazing after taste. The Vermont White Vodka is made in very small batches which makes them so rare.
Glenmorangie Pride 1974
With only 503 bottles left, the Glenmorangie Pride 1974 is the second rarest liquor to be available on this planet. The drink is a 41-year-old single malt which is also one of the oldest liquors, and is said to be astoundingly complex and rich but in a delicate way. It was introduced last year in 2017 with countless notes imparted by its long life in ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso casks.