The Half Century Club: Really Old Scotch Whisky

April 20, 2017

Just as your father likes to remind you about himself—he’s not getting older, he’s getting better—whisky doesn’t just age, it matures. On rare occasions, it’s afforded the opportunity to do so not merely for a few years, a dozen or perhaps 18, but a full 50 years or even longer.

Welcome to The Half Century Club of Scotch whisky, and in a world where age statements continue to be unceremoniously removed, the age boldly printed on these labels serves as a bold proclamation of the virtues of patience. You’ll need to get out your checkbook of course, because purchasing access to the Half Century Club doesn’t come cheaply.

The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4570

The Balvenie Fifty Cask 4570 was released in the fall of 2015. A total of 128 bottles were in the release, bottled at 45.9% ABV. The whisky was distilled in 1963, on the same day as a prior 2014 release, Cask 4567, and was aged in a European oak sherry hogshead. Stowed away in their prized Warehouse 24, malt master David Stewart has kept his eyes on the cask throughout his tenure—he began his apprenticeship in 1962.

Suggested pricing: $38,000.

Old ScotchThe Balvenie Fifty Casks 4567 and 4570

Bowmore 1961 50 Year Old

The final 50 bottles of Bowmore 1961, 40.7% ABV, have just been released, concluding a four year run totaling 200 bottles. The juice itself was distilled in December 1961 and spent time maturing in Bowmore’s No. 1 Vaults, the oldest whisky warehouse in Scotland. That’s a home befitting a whisky distilled the year John F. Kennedy began his presidency.

Suggested pricing: $23,000.

Bowmore isn’t done though, even if Bowmore 1961 is once these bottles are gone. The final release of that vintage kicked off a new six-part release dubbed the Bowmore 50 Year Old Collection Series. Stay on the lookout in the years ahead.

The Glenlivet Winchester Collection 1966

Hitting shelves in September 2016, The Glenlivet Winchester Collection is a 50 year old from 1966. It follows up on the Vintage 1964 edition, released in 2014. Distilled by master distiller Robert Arthur, it was released under the stewardship of current master distiller and namesake Alan Winchester. Bottled at a cask strength of 49.2% ABV, a total of 100 bottles were in the release.

Suggested pricing: $25,000.

Old ScotchThe Glenlivet Winchester Collection 1966 held by Master Distiller Alan Winchester

Glen Grant 50 Year Old

The Half Century Club entrant from Glen Grant was distilled in October 1963, just two years or so after Dennis Malcolm began working at the distillery at the age of 15. The whisky spent the whole of its maturation life in a single sherry butt. The whisky is bottled at cask strength, a hearty 54.4%, and a total of 150 bottles were in the release, shaped as replicas of the Glen Grant stills.

Suggested pricing: $15,000.

Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Half century? Ha! Child’s play, so says the marvelously mad men at Glenfarclas who decided to tack on an extra decade to that figure. The whisky was matured entirely in a first-fill sherry butt. The six decades of maturation is a fitting tie to the six generations of Grant family ownership since 1865, with one generation represented on each side of the hexagonal presentation box. A total of 360 bottles were released.

Suggested pricing: $20,000.

Highland Park 50 Year Old

Highland Park 50 year old was distilled in 1960 and released in 2010. A total of five casks were incorporated into the release, and combined with its five decades, it’s said to represent the pinnacle of their five key stones of production. Bottled at 44.8%, a total of 275 bottles were in the release.

Suggested pricing: $16,000.

Old ScotchHighland Park 50 Year Old

Glenfiddich 50 Year Old

Glenfiddich has released the second vatting of their precious 50 Year Old, with just 50 bottles released per year. It’s keeping with the theme of honoring five generations of whisky tradition and craft. Their first release showcased a vatting of nine casks honoring William Grant’s nine children. The whisky in this release comes from two casks which were each left to mature for a half century before being married together. Bottled at 46.1% ABV.

Suggested pricing: $26,000.

The Macallan in Lalique Collection

The Macallan could have its own list here. They have at least six actively available offerings eligible for the Half Century Club as part of their Macallan in Lalique Collection. Not to mention all of the vintage releases you’ll find on the secondary market. There’s Lalique 50 (yawn)… 55, 57, 60, 62, and then bam—65 year old. Dubbed the final chapter, Macallan Lalique 65 is bottled at 46.3%.

Suggested pricing: $35,000.

Glenmorangie Pride 1974 41 Year Old

Close call—One bonus inclusion for bargain basement shoppers who love “young” whisky!

Coming up a scant nine years shy of the Half Century Club, Glenmorangie Pride 1974 is one for the coupon clippers out there among us. Coming it at a cool $9,050, 503 bottles were in the release hitting store shelves this April. The whisky was distilled in October 1974, and is a blend of two barrels, one bourbon cask and one Oloroso sherry butt, bottled at 52% ABV.

Old ScotchGlenmorangie Pride 1974 41 Year Old


Thirsty for some old Scotch whisky?

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