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Is This the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Whisky?

Tuesday, 11 Dec 2012 | 9:33 AM ET
Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve
Source: Glenfiddich | Facebook
Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve

How much would you be willing to shell out for a bottle of whisky?

This week, an extremely rare bottle of Glenfiddich single malt scotch will going up for auction in California; and while it's still anybody's guess as to how much money it will take to snatch the pale gold beverage off the auction table, it seems likely that tens of thousands of dollars will be needed to clinch the winning bid.

According to Forbes, the bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve 55-Year-Old will be up for grabs on Tuesday at an "exclusive" auction event in Los Angeles. All proceeds from the charity auction will benefit the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

"Everyone knows that high-quality water is essential for fine whisky. That's why we are very pleased to be partnering with Glenfiddich, a company that recognizes the importance of protecting natural resources for the environment and for business," Dr. Andrew Steer, the institutes president, said of the upcoming event in a press release.

As NPR notes, only 15 bottles of the 1955 whisky (named after the granddaughter of William Grant, the founder of the Glenfiddich) were made, and only 11 of them have been released to the public. The bottle that is up for auction this week will be the very last one available for sale.

Earlier this year, another bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve was put up for auction in New York. It fetched a whopping $94,000 and a Glenfiddich press release at the time noted that the sale had been a "record-breaking" one.

In 2011, Bottle #1 of the limited edition expression was sold for more than $72,000 at an auction in the U.K. and Bottle #2 was sold for more than $70,000.

Brian Kinsman, Glenfiddich's malt master, who says he's been "lucky enough" to have tried the uber-rare whisky, describes the beverage as "stunning."

"[It's] quite different from what you might imagine. You might imagine avery old whisky will taste really woody and oaky, and be quite powerful. And it's absolutely the opposite of that. It's very delicate. It's very floral and fruity, [and] quite sweet. It's just incredibly elegant," he told NPR.

While Glenfiddich claims its Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve is the world's "most expensive" whisky, there are other single malt contenders for that pricey title.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most expensive whisky sold at auction is a $460,000 bottle of 64-year-old Macallan which was sold at Sotheby's in New York in November 2010.

However, unlike the Glenfiddich scotch, which is being sold in a regular glass bottle, the Macallan was packaged in a one-of-a-kind crystal decanter that was created by renowned crystal artisan Lalique. The decanter was also reportedly made using the ancient "cire perdue" or "lost wax" method -- a time-consuming process that is rarely followed today.

Still, a 1.7 oz dram of the 64-year-old Macallan, the distillery's oldest and rarest whisky, is allegedly also being sold for $64,000 at a Beverly Hills lounge.

That's no cheap shot.

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  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.