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Economic Green Shoots? Glenfiddich Unveils $15,000 Bottle of Whiskey

Each hand-blown bottle contains whiskey that’s been aged for 50 years.

glenfiddich gallery

In 2007, we wouldn’t have batted an eye; in 2009, it seems downright bizarre: William Grant & Sons, which makes Glenfiddich, has just unveiled a 50-year-old whiskey that costs $15,000 a bottle. It might just be a marketing stunt, but as Bloomberg reports, there’s some hope that the vintage will be snapped up by whiskey-crazed investors in Asia and America. After all, in 1991, a 60-year-old bottle of Macallan set a record at $11,000, and is now said to be worth nearly four times that–which, by our calculations, comes out to an 8% annual return. In that same period through Friday, the S&P 500 would have given you 6.4%.

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But then again, that sparkling return was on a single bottle; for this one, Glenfiddich aims to release 50 a year, over 10 years (the first will be on sale in Charles de Gaulle Airport, in September). Granted, the company has no other casks of whiskey from the 1950s, but it still sounds like a pretty flooded market. Fat chance on a resale. So if you buy a bottle, just pound it with your buddies.

Other than bragging rights and a presumably smooth finish, what do you get for your money? Not much, actually. You’d expect the packaging designers to have created a special, diamond-encrusted bier, where the nectar is cupped in the petrified hands of an extinct monkey. Instead, they’ve gone “historical”: The bottles are hand-blown by enchanted monkeys and feature Scottish silver. The leather-bound case is meant to recall William Grant’s personal ledgers, and there’s a leather-bound journal inside for recording your taste sensations. (“Wass good. Drannk all in oNE nite. Went to Whiet Casstle aftr.”)

For $15,000 a piece, couldn’t they have at least hired a better designer?

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[Bloomberg and Moodie Report, via Dieline, which has more pics]

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About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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