There will always be a sense of bittersweet finality that comes along with endings. Graduation. Break-ups. Skimming past the last sentence of a favourite new book. The last-ever bottling of The Glenrothes’ 50-year-old whisky — the distillery’s oldest single malt whisky release yet — went to auction last month. The hammer struck; and so, a final sliver of Speyside history was going, going and gone.
In November of 2020, Decanter #38 of the 50-year-old batch sold at auction for HK$322,400. Three months later on an unassuming February afternoon, Decanter #50’s final selling price exceeds its contemporary by a difference of close to HK$100,000 at £39,000 (approximately HK$419,833). What’s more, all proceeds from the sale of this auction, delivered by Charles Graham-Campbell of Bonhams, will be donated to the winning bidder’s charity of choice.
The rarity of this limited batch of fifty is not something to gloss or scoff over. Whisky expressions of the 20- and 30-year-old varieties are the more quotidian releases; in fact, prior to this batch, The Glenrothes’ oldest single malt was a mere 25 years old. The rarest amongst the rare, this 50th of 50 bottling is The Glenrothes’ crown jewel. A once-in-a-generation articulation of 140-years worth of passion, expertise and craft.
The tasting notes of the 50-year-old remains the same across the limited release. “After half a century maturing in sherry bourbon oak casks, our 50-year-old single malt offers a unique blend of aromas with complexity that only a whisky of this age can deliver,” said Laura Rampling, Master Whisky Maker at The Glenrothes. “It is dark and fragrant, offering sweet and spiced flavours with a refined finish and gentle lingering of woody spices. On the nose, drinkers can expect hints of jasmine and cedar.” The gravity of the 50th of 50 — the last in a series steeped in history — however, begs for a special moment of celebration. Something special, then, came in the form of a hand-engraved collar commissioned by Hamilton & Inches, forged with 22-carat Scottish gold mined from Scotland’s one-and-only gold mine beneath the National Park scenery at the edge of The Trossachs National Park.
“Today really is an historic day for The Glenrothes and marks the culmination of 50 years of passion and skilled craftsmanship,” said Rampling at the time of the auction. “We’re incredibly proud to have worked with Hamilton & Inches to create this stunning decanter and celebrate this milestone in our history. While this is the last of our 50-year-old, we have more exciting releases coming later this year and during 2022. These include exclusive Single Casks, a new 40-year-old collection and some very special limited bottlings.”