The Most Expensive Shot of Whiskey in the World Was Sold for the North Koreans

The last shot of a batch Macallan 64, the oldest known whiskey to come from the venerable distillery, was sold for USD64,000 — but not without cause.

Aug 04, 2017 | By

There’ve been reports that a man strolled into a bar in Switzerland last week and plonked down 9,999 Swiss Francs (RM65,000) for a glass of Macallan whiskey made in 1878.

This went down at the luxury Waldhaus Hotel in St. Moritz, where the man and a group of friends spent the evening at Devil’s Place Whisky Bar. The hotel bar has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records for its impressive 2,500 bottle collection of spirits.

While that’s a pretty pricey shot of finely fermented grain, it’s not the most expensive one sold to date. Blaine Vess — entrepreneur and CEO of StudyMode, an ed-tech company that helps students create, share and discover study materials — purchased a 50ml dram of Macallan 64 for $64,000 (RM274,000), but it wasn’t exactly a whimsical purchase during a drinking night out.

Proceeds from the sale of this unique dram, stored at £10, a Macallan cocktail lounge at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills are pledged by Macallan to benefit a charity of the buyer’s choice.

In this case, Vess’s purchase benefits Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), a non-profit working to empower North Koreans to drive change in their country. Some of the groups efforts are eyebrow-raising — they include rescuing North Korean refugees seeking resettlement via a 5,000-kilometre underground railroad that runs through China and into Southeast Asia.

Blaine Vess, the social entrepreneur who purchased a shot of Macallan 64 for $64,000.

The bottle is the only one of its kind, containing three single malts filled in 1942, 1945 and 1946, and this isn’t the first time the Macallan 64, the oldest blend ever released by the distillery, has been involved in a charity effort. Back in 2010, some of the same Macallan 64 went on a world tour in a Lalique decanter, as part of glass designer René Lalique’s birth celebrations, offering 10cl sips to global enthusiasts for five-figure sums, all benefiting charity.

Several countries  and a few rounds of refills later, the final decanter was sold for $460,000 at a Sotheby’s New York charity auction. From a purely whisky perspective, some might still think it overpriced, but it speaks to Macallan’s rise in brand power, especially visible in Asia — another Sotheby’s auction in 2014, sold a rare single malt Macallan M for a whopping $628,205 in Hong Kong.

As for Blaine Vess’s precious shot? He doesn’t plan on drinking it. At least, not now. It will stay locked up in the safe at £10, until things change for the North Korean people. “I’m honoured to support LiNK in promoting freedom and empowerment for the North Korean people, and grateful to The Macallan for their generosity in giving the proceeds from this valuable whiskey to charity,” Vess said in an interview with Market Wired.

“I want to wait to drink it until the North Korean people are free — and I believe that will happen in my lifetime.”

Watch Blaine Vess talking about his purchase of the most expensive shot of whiskey in the world:

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