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Shark Tank's Kevin O'Leary and I tasted a $60,000 whisky flight

Of all of his investments, Shark Tank star Kevin O'Leary is especially fond of his liquid assets — like wine.

His O'Leary Fine Wines brand has become a major player in the U.S. wine market (especially its $25 Chardonnay) and he's visited almost every vintner in the Napa and Sonoma valleys, along with vineyards in France, Cyprus, Africa and other regions of the world. O'Leary is also a member of the "confrérie des chevaliers du tastevin," an elite fraternity of Burgundy enthusiasts.

"You have to invest in the beverages you drink," O'Leary told me.

To broaden his liquid portfolio, CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich" took O'Leary to the Ty Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York for one of the most expensive tastings on the planet — a $60,000 set of aged Balvenie whisky.

To test his palate, Lorne Cousin, the national brand ambassador for Balvenie, gave O'Leary a test. He poured him one whisky that cost $24 an ounce and another that cost $200. O'Leary immediately identified the higher-quality, expensive one. And he was instantly hooked on the pleasures of aged whisky.

"Now that I've been introduced to this, this is a horrible outcome for me," O'Leary joked. "Now every time I have a drink, it's going to cost me $200."

Shark Tanks Kevin O'Leary and CNBC's Robert Frank sample Balvenie Whiskey.
CNBC
Shark Tanks Kevin O'Leary and CNBC's Robert Frank sample Balvenie Whiskey.

Then, the staff of the Ty Bar carried over a giant leather suitcase and opened it up to reveal liquid gold — five bottles of Balvenie that range in age from a 2004 to a 1961.

The case -- called the Balvenie DCS Compendium — was selected by Balvenie's legendary Malt Master David Stewart. The whole case would sell for $60,000. That's if you could even buy it, which you can't because it's no longer for sale.

We started with the 2004, which had bold hints of grass and toast and maple.

"My goodness these are incredible," O'Leary gasped.

We moved on to the '93, the '81 and the '73, each of which became more complex, smoother and rich in flavors.

When we got to the '61, however, O'Leary and I paused. This was, after all, Balvenie's oldest bottle ever — whisky that was put in a cask in 1961 and taken out 55 years later. The bottle would be $55,000 alone — but you can't buy it anywhere. So the only place you can taste it commercially in the U.S. is at the Ty Bar.

O'Leary and I had a 1.5-ounce serving, which is about $5,000 worth of whisky.

The results?

O'Leary could hardly come up with the words to describe it. His exact quote: "Eecheewawa Carumba!"

He added, "It's an arrogant taste but I appreciate its audacity."

The 1961 was a liquid explosion of tastes and colors — sunshine, fresh-cut grass, pancakes, lemon trees, the smell of wood stoves in the winter, and homemade butterscotch. And this tiny glass, with 1.5 ounces, cost more than my first car.

So I asked O'Leary — known for being so frugal he refuses to pay $2.50 for a cup of coffee — whether the $5,000 sip of whisky was worth it.

"Absolutely," he said. "I get it. I get why people would pursue this. There is nothing else like this in the world. Everyone has to try this during their lifetime."

Balvenie Whiskey flight.
Source: Balvenie Whiskey
Balvenie Whiskey flight.

Watch a new episode of CNBC's "Secret Lives of the Super Rich," Wednesday, March 7 at 10 pm ET/PT.