FOR A TOT OF WHISKY
South Africans with deep pockets can now swirl liquid gold over their pampered palates at R18 000 a tot. This is the retail price of 50-year-old Glenfiddich single malt, displayed behind thick glass at the wood-panelled Bascule Bar at Cape Town’s five-star Cape Grace Hotel.
Needless to say, the bottle is kept under lock and key, and can only be accessed by top managers.
The Bascule Bar has sold seven shots of the platinum single malt to discerning patrons in the past year.
According to Glenfiddich’s official website, only 500 bottles of the exclusive drink were created.
Each bottle is hand-blown, individually numbered in wax and finished in Scottish silver by Thomas Fattorini, a sixth-generation silversmith.
The bottles are released on a strict global allocation of 50 a year.
Bascule manager Bradley Jacobs’ face lit up while opening the glass cabinet to remove the prized, slightly dusty, sample, which is marked #400.
“Whenever someone orders a shot of this, there’s excitement all round among staff and patrons.
“I guess it’s a bucket-list thing, you know, for people with deep pockets.
“Two years ago, after a business meeting, a man told us he wanted to have four tots of our most expensive whisky. So yes, R72 000 later...”
For those with slightly less bulging pockets, a tasting of the 50-year-old single malt and its slightly younger siblings, Glenfiddich’s 40- and 30-year-olds, can be arranged at R10 000 a head.
The bar has sold two of these “de luxe tastings” since launching them a month ago.
Jacobs invited City Press to have a taste, provided we could claim back the R10 000 as a company expense. We declined.
Jacobs said: “I tasted it about a year ago with the grand ambassador from Glenfiddich. Yup, it was pretty smooth.
“I’m not going to say it’s not worth the money, but there are nice whiskies out there that don’t necessarily cost an arm and a leg, or R18 000.”
Bascule offers 526 types of whisky, whiskey and bourbon – made from fermented grain mash – from 14 different countries, including two distilleries in South Africa.
The up-market watering hole offers some extraordinary premium whisky cocktails. The Walking on Sunshine (R200) consists of Johnnie Walker Gold, Campari, naartjie, bitters and lime; the Rooibos Blazer (R190) contains Lagavulin 16-year-old whisky, home-made lemon bitters, rooibos tea and maple syrup; and local gets extra lekker with the Cape Malay Curry (R110), comprising Johnnie Walker Platinum, apricot liqueur, roasted cumin, lemon, bitters and sugary syrup.
During City Press’ visit, musician Jonathan Butler could be seen soaking up the sun on the terrace flanking the premises.
Meanwhile, eight R150 000 bottles of 50year-old Glen Grant single malt from Scotland were snapped up by South African buyers before they even reached our shores in July.
“Eight bottles sold in one month. In fact, they were presold before the stock even landed in South Africa,” said Megan Sonnenberg, a local spokesperson for the distiller.
Two more of the bottles would be made available through Makro’s peak season gifting catalogue soon, she said.
Up north, Dullstroom in Mpumalanga is known as one of South Africa’s coldest towns.
Fortunately, visitors can now stay warm by sampling 1 100 different types of Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey and American whiskey at a small local bar, considered the home of the largest commercial collection of the golden tipple in the whole southern hemisphere.
In fact, Dullstroom’s Wild About Whisky – with a 65m² bar – has just about run out of space for beverage options.
“We’ve been awarded the status of the largest in the hemisphere by various portals,” said co-owner Steve Adams.
The unassuming watering hole’s patrons range from top politicians to cricket players and rugby stars. Adams said the perception of whisky as the domain of silver-haired, cigartoting men was rapidly changing.
“Most of our clients are male, but we’re getting more and more women, especially younger, upwardly mobile ones.”
The bar’s most exclusive offering is a rare 30-year-old Port Ellen whisky from Scotland that sells for R790 a shot.