What makes The Macallan M worth $628 205?

24-04-2017 By Emily Stockden

The record for the most expensive single malt whisky sold at auction goes to the rare Macallan "M" whisky which sold for $628,205 at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong. What on earth justifies such a hefty price tag?

When it comes to whisky it’s all about exclusivity, craft and rarity.

The craft that goes into making the decanter is where it all starts. The Lalique crystal decanter is multi-faceted. It is 28 inches tall and holds 6 litres of whisky – think 3 two-litre bottles of Coke. Allegedly up to forty of the hand-blown decanters were created and discarded due to imperfections before each of the 4 finished pieces were approved.

Only four of the Constantine decanters were ever produced,ticking the rare and exclusive boxes. The craft involved is undeniable: it took 17 craftsmen over 50 hours to complete. The authenticity and reputation of Lalique crystal is also unquestionable.

History and heritage is evoked not only by the whisky itself, but the decanter is named for the Roman Emperor, Constantine.

The liquid was chosen over a period of 2 years, during which time the whisky maker selected seven casks out of nearly 200 000 that were then blended to create "M". The whisky comprising the M is all from sherry oak casks and ranges in age from about 75 to 25 years old.

Interestingly – given its status as the most expensive whisky ever sold at auction – The Macallan Imperiale "M" doesn't have an age statement. Rather, the casks were chosen based on their rarity rather than their age.

The winning bidder bought what Charles Whitfield, The Macallan Brand Ambassador at the time, called "a unique opportunity to own a collaboration between best-respected luxury brands."

Whisky is increasingly seen as an essential for anyone who wishes to amass a range of luxury products, resulting in collaborations between luxury brands such as the one between Lalique crystal and The Macallan. This has been fuelled by Asian buyers who see whisky as a symbol of sophistication and luxury.

While it may seem an almost obscene amount of money to pay for a bottle of whisky – no matter the craft that’s gone into it, the rarity of the liquid and the exclusivity of the product – some may be appeased by the fact that all proceeds from the sale went to Hong Kong charities.