Collecting rare and exclusive alcoholic drinks is a luxurious hobby that is only growing in popularity
Some people collect vinyl records, others collect classic cars – and then there are a few discerning collectors who purchase rare and one-off spirits. People around the world dedicate their time and money in amassing collections of vintage liquor to save or indulge in. Every year, premium spirits in all categories, from whisky to gin, are released and those lucky enough to notice add them to their collection.
Spirits have a very long shelf life, which is why they make a great item to collect; some feature special packaging and bottle designs, while others contain the very last drops of decadesold liquid. Salvo Russo, head of wine at the luxury restaurant Heliot Steak House in the capital, recommends buying two bottles of a collectible spirit if you can. “I think it would be unfortunate to store a bottle for several years without knowing what the spirit tastes like,” he says. “I also like to put a tag on the neck of the bottle and write where I got it from, which year I bought it, and what was the occasion, just to add a little bit of history to the bottle.”
For some, searching for rare spirits is a career. True spirit pioneers founded The Last Drop Distillers, a brand that has been nicknamed the world’s most exclusive spirits company. Their goal was simple; to find and bottle the world’s finest, rarest and most exclusive spirits. Since launching, the company has launched 16 limited releases of Scotch and cognac, once forgotten and unearthed in dusty cellars. One such find was The Last Drop 1925 Grande Champagne Cognac that was forgotten for nearly 80 years by a family – it contained only enough liquid for fewer than 200 bottles, making it very rare indeed.
Keeble Cask Co also make it their mission to source exceptional casks of Scotch whisky and mature them in Scotland’s bonded warehouses until they’re ready for bottling. “I bought a cask for my daughter when she was born,” Salvo continues. “By the time she turns 30, she will have a cask of 30-year whisky that hopefully will make her a very good profit.”
There are other ways to get your hands on some rare bottles of booze; just like fine art collectors, one place to look at are auction houses. Scotch Whisky Auctions is the UK’s greatest online platform for the tipple, with monthly auctions where you can buy and sell whisky. There are items to suit any price point, though expect some to go high. One auction sold a bottle of A.H Hirsch 1974 20-year-old Finest Reserve for £2,900.
If you are on the lookout for rare items, speak to those who work in the business who will be able to let you know about the latest releases. Kinahan’s Whiskey, dubbed the ‘pioneer of Irish whiskey’, has a special release project where they annually release limited batches of a few rare casks. Each release is different and is selected strictly based on unique and unconventional taste profiles of the whiskey.
Other spirits have their rare releases, and the ever-popular gin is one of them. Hepple Spirits have recently produced a rare gin, aptly named Miriam, after the juniper tree that has resided there for hundreds of years. Only 266 bottles priced at £125 have been released and this process can’t be repeated with the same tree, which means that Miriam is wholly unique.
To get involved with collecting vintage and rare spirits, the best suggestion is to sign up to websites, newsletters and subscriptions. Just make sure these expensive bottles take pride of place in your drinks cabinet.
‘Spirits have a very long shelf life, which is why they make a great item to source and collect’
Kinahan’s special release project is a rare find
Reserva de la Familia Serralles is a blend of 20-year-old rums
Hepple Spirits’ Miriam