A stiff shot of expensive whiskey splashing into a rocks glass is the perfect elixir after a long day.

There are plenty of fine spirits available to discerning drinkers. If you're looking to spend a little extra to really experience the finer side of imbibing, though, allow me to suggest you consider an expensive whiskey. In the interest of full disclosure, let me acknowledge from the start that I'm a whiskey drinker. There's no doubt that rum and vodka combine with tons of flavors for some outstanding cocktails. And a stout port can bring gravitas to any high-brow event. But in any situation where liquor is being served, whiskey can find a way to fit right in. That's in part due to the unique effect aging and cooperage have in the process of creating this versatile spirit. And personally, I like just about all of them.

Admittedly, I'm quick to pick up a bottle of Jack Daniel's to fill any gaps in my own home bar and my go-to cocktail at the pub is a 7&7. But I also gravitate toward luxury and I know what an expensive whiskey offers that those off-the-shelf bottle simply do not. So if you share my passions for opulent indulgence and the smooth taste of an aged whiskey, then welcome! I hope you'll find the following list helpful as you select the right expensive whiskey for your event.

Here's what you'll find in a bottle of expensive whiskey: 

First, let's look at what sets an expensive whiskey apart from its more common cousins at the corner liquor store. Hint: It's more than just the price tag. These characteristics are not common in all bottles that fetch princely sums on the open market. But most expensive whiskeys on this and other lists can claim one or more of the following features: 

  • Age
  • Exclusivity
  • Presentation

How to choose the best expensive whiskey for you

Even among expensive whiskey brands, there is plenty to separate the men from the boys. Just paying a lot for a bottle hardly guarantees the drink of your life. And you'll notice that there is a huge range in prices among what qualifies as a high-end bottle of whiskey.

Some of these are only available through auction or special arrangement. If you're near a major city or live in a state that allows alcohol delivery, you can probably pick up a few of them today. But no matter whether you spend four figures or six for a bottle of expensive whiskey, you want to know that you're getting what you pay for. And that's where this list comes in. I hope to give you a broad enough overview of some of my favorite ultra-exclusive casks before turning it over to you for the final decision.

Armed with some details about what sets some whiskeys apart, the real fun will come when you make your first selection. Like any luxury purchase, picking the right expensive whiskey is a personal decision based on which characteristics you value most. I'll try to provide a balanced look at some of the finest examples currently available. Each one offers something a bit different, fitting the requirements of certain connoisseurs more perfectly than others. So if you're looking for something exquisite to sip or a conversation piece that will give your guests something to talk about on the ride home, you're sure to find something to fit your style in the list below. Cheers

1. Dalmore 64 Trinitas

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Credit: The Dalmore

If exclusivity is an important factor as you make your choice among brands of expensive whiskey, you've got to consider this one. As hinted in its name, The Dalmore 64 Trinitas is a blend of spirits aged 64 years. And there were just three bottles ever produced. Talk about exclusive! 

One bottle was snatched up by a private collector. The Whiskey Exchange grabbed another. As of this writing, the third bottle could still be yours for somewhere north of $140,000. And then there would be no more. In itself, that's a pretty incredible thought. But there is so much more that comes along with that six-figure asking price.

Dalmore crafted these examples using the finest ingredients available for a fully refined finished product. Decades of aging contribute to its overall taste, subtly marked by the unique combination of grains used in the process.

2. Michter's Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey

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Credit: Michter's

Michter's is a Kentucky whiskey with a respected tradition. One particularly special batch has really caught the attention of whiskey lovers everywhere, myself included. First of all, just 273 bottles were made available in the limited run production. And the Michter's Celebration Sour Mash Whiskey's carafe fits the bill with a beautiful 18 karat gold label.

This particular blend of Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Kentucky Straight Rye was aged in barrels proven to produce stellar spirits. Some of the components were aged more than 30 years with the whole process overseen by Willie Pratt, a master distiller of the day.

For around $4,000 a bottle or roughly $200 a shot, this is a sip of pure Kentucky you won't soon forget. And given it's limited supply, you might not have the opportunity to drink it again.

3. Yamazaki 50 Year Single Malt

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Gentgeen

Expected to fetch somewhere up to $140,000 at auction in Hong Kong earlier this year, this rare whiskey shattered those estimates. The bottle of Yamazaki 50 Year Single Malt brought in more than twice that much. It's nearly $300,000 final bid made it the most expensive single bottle of Japanese whiskey ever sold.

But is it worth the price? Well, that depends on who's asking. At least one bidder certainly thought so. But there are familiar factors at play that undoubtedly contribute to the premium price. There is the element of exclusivity with just 150 bottles included in its 2013 release. The history of Suntory, the company that produces the whiskey, is also alive inside each bottle. The exquisite concoction comes directly to you from the location of the company's first distillery, which began operation in 1924. 

4. Macallan M

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Credit: The Macallan

Let's be honest, Macallan's limited production offerings could fill a list of expensive whiskey all on their own. But when it came time to pick a representative for this countdown, I immediately thought of the Macallan M. And it's not just because the Guinness Book of World Records named it the most expensive whiskey ever sold. This bottle checks off virtually anything that could possibly be on your list of demands. Starting with the whiskey itself, an impeccable single malt crafted through the inimitable Macallan process. And it's housed in an equally exquisite Lalique crystal container. If you're going to pay the equivalent of what could be a nice house in some cities -- $600,000+ -- for a bottle of whiskey, it had better count. With the Macallan M, it does.

5. Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 Year 

You might be sensing a trend, but this whiskey is also part of a limited edition run produced in a tiny batch. But at just over $2,000 per bottle, it's a little more attainable than some of the other expensive whiskey on this list. After aging for 23 years, the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve is ready to let its artfully crafted tastes speak for themselves. The taste is characterized by several pleasantly sweet aromas, including caramel and cream. These flavors meld perfectly with a nutty finish that supports additional layers of citrus, spice and vanilla.

6. Balvenie 50 Year Old Single Malt Scotch 

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Credit: The Balvenie

A process that began on May 28, 1963, came to fruition a half century later. The result was one of the most sought after bottles of whiskey in existence. Only 131 bottles of the Balenie 50 Year Old were produced. Each example of this pristine blend has been described as complex and elegant. This is what perfectly aged expensive whiskey should be. The flavors of this blend include a subtle hint of oak intensified by notes of sweet fruit that follow. A pleasant sweetness remains on the palate after a tasting, reminding you of the world-class whiskey you had the pleasure of tasting. 

Ready to treat yourself to a fine bottle of expensive whiskey?

It's easy to fall into a rut when you find a drink that works for you. Believe me, I know. Of course, I'll never give up my tried and true 7&7, but sometimes it just feels right to step it up a few dozen notches. On those occasions, there are expensive whiskey options like the ones above. This isn't an exhaustive list by any means, but I've tried to provide a varied look at what the market has to offer. Whether your looking for the perfectly aged blend or an irresistible presentation, there's something here for every whiskey lover. I hope you enjoyed this trip through the exclusive side of the whiskey world.

Do you have a favorite expensive whiskey? Let us know in the comments section below.

And share this article with the whiskey drinkers in your life. It might inspire your friends to join you for a night dedicated to experiencing the finest in expensive whiskey. 

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