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Ultra-rare Ardbeg single malt whisky cask sells for record-breaking US$19 million

An unnamed whisky collector from Asia has paid an eye-watering and record-breaking US$19 million for an ultra-rare cask of Ardbeg whisky distilled in 1975 at auction. 

The amount is thought to be a new record for a cask of single malt, though private cask transactions are not always readily available to track.

Ardbeg casks of this age are particularly rare, as much of the Islay distillery’s whisky was used in blends at the time, it is noted. This cask is the distillery’s oldest release to date.

The one-of-a-kind release, dubbed ‘Cask No. 3′ was separated into two different casks’; one Bourbon, one oloroso Sherry, and left to mature for 38 years.

They were combined in 2014, with Ardbeg’s director of whisky creation, Dr Bill Lumsden “marrying” them in a refill ex-oloroso Sherry butt.

The unnamed collector will receive a total of 440 bottles of single malt from Cask No. 3 presented in a unique format. She will receive 88 bottles per year over the course of the next five years, giving her a vertical series of 1975 Ardbegs aged for 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 years by 2026.

Dr Bill Lumsden commented:

“Cask No. 3 is an extraordinary taste of Ardbeg’s past. Its aromas are nutty, herbal and smoky, while its tastes of tar, espresso coffee and spearmint have an astonishing finesse for a whisky of such age.

“So little stock survives from this era, that this cask really is one of a kind. And its complex flavours are testament to the extraordinary skill of the Ardbeg team who have cared for it over the decades. I look forward to exploring how it continues to evolve over the next five years.”

Thomas Moradpour, CEO, said: “This sale is a source of pride for everyone in the Ardbeg community who has made our journey possible. Just 25 years ago, Ardbeg was on the brink of extinction, but today it is one of the most sought-after whiskies in the world.

“That is a reflection of generations of hard work: from those in the still house who craft our smoky spirit, to the warehouse staff who care for our casks over decades, to teams around the world who build the reputation of our whiskies with fans, bartenders and collectors.

“While such a rare whisky is out of reach for all but one of our fans, we put the same passion and care into every bottle of Ardbeg as went into this exclusive single malt in 1975 – from flagship Ardbeg 10 Years Old, to limited-edition releases.

“Today, our new still house is working at full capacity to make more Ardbeg available than ever, and whisky creator Dr Bill Lumsden is busy imagining many more surprising smoky releases for Ardbeg fans. Because when a business like Ardbeg gets rewarded for 50 years of patience, it gives us the confidence to keep investing in the future of our distillery, and in our island community. The journey continues.”

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