Top Drops

In the world of pre­mium wine and spir­its, lux­ury has never tasted so good.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - CON­TENTS - Words MIKE BEN­NIE

Dis­cover these high-end wines and spir­its — with a price tag to match.

In 2013, at Har­rods in Lon­don, a di­a­mon­den­crusted golf put­ter dec­o­rated with 378 di­a­monds, 240 ru­bies and sport­ing an 18-carat gold head was avail­able for around $200,000. Along­side this, you could snap up a box of choco­lates for about $12,000. De­signed by lux­ury choco­latier Patchi, the box was lined with gold and plat­inum, the choco­lates in­di­vid­u­ally wrapped in In­dian silk.

Though at times there’s a sense of lu­di­crous­ness about elite brands, the con­nec­tion be­tween no­tions of hand­crafted rar­ity and per­cep­tion of qual­ity is typ­i­cally writ large. Like­wise, the world of lux­ury wines and spir­its is in­ex­orably linked to ideas of ex­pense, scarcity and a sense of elu­sive­ness. Along­side only Moët & Chan­don cham­pagne and Hen­nessy co­gnac, but other high-end brands such as Veuve Clic­quot, Krug, Glen­morangie whisky, and the world’s most highly sought-af­ter sweet wines from Château d’Yquem.

While prices can be as­pi­ra­tional, the mar­ket seems to rel­ish in­vent­ing more and more prod­ucts to sit within this ech­e­lon. In­deed, high pric­ing in Aus­tralian wine has al­most be­come a sport, with renowned brands like Pen­folds Grange ($850) and Hen­schke Hill of Grace ($825) lead­ing the charge with in­cre­men­tal price rises most years. Though these two bot­tles are at the apex of Aus­tralian wine pric­ing, a straw poll now puts more than 100 Aus­tralian wines at $150 or more in the mar­ket — this was once the do­main of only a clutch of pro­duc­ers.

There are neat par­al­lels with the world of spir­its, where the con­cept of ‘pre­mi­u­mi­sa­tion’ has seen one-off re­leases and unique con­cept whiskies emerge, while vodka brands like Grey Goose and Belvedere are find­ing them­selves on equal foot­ing with other top-tier dis­tilled prod­ucts like co­gnac and sin­gle malts. This has left ‘stan­dard re­lease’ spir­its in­creas­ingly dwarfed by the more dar­ing, orig­i­nal and rare.

De­spite an emerg­ing cyn­i­cism about the rise and

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