10 Oldest Whiskeys in the World

How would you react if you found out that several bottles of old whiskey were standing still in a corner in your attic, what would you do with them? Are you going to make a shout-out about it in your social media accounts? Would you tell the world that you may have uncovered what could be the oldest whiskey in town? Does that mean a hefty amount of money to gain if you sell them? Why do we put so much value on old whiskey?

Aging, Men, and Whiskey

Did you know that it is not only men who become better with age? Besides cheese and wine, when a person of discriminating taste thinks about having luxurious alcohol to himself, his mind conjures up images of that amber liquid of pure satisfaction and delight — whiskey.  In the light of old whiskeys being found here and there, have you ever pondered upon the reason why distilling companies age whiskey? Will aging give your whiskey a better flavor? Another key point to look into here is why do we age whiskey in oak or sherry barrels. Can we age it instead in other types of wooden barrels, or perhaps in a synthetic barrel made from plastic?

Old whiskey bottles
Old whiskey bottles

We need to mature whiskey for at least 3 years. This will help in giving it that needed flavor and texture. Like for instance, a bottle of Scotch whiskey with an age statement of “12 Years Old” indicates that it is not younger than 12 years old. Nevertheless, we can bottle Scotch whiskeys at various ages, but the best time to do so would be to start from 3 years to 50 years, or even more.

Experienced whiskey brand owners always emphasize the importance of aging whiskey inside high-quality casks. There are many different types of casks, each of which influences to a certain degree how the whiskey will develop inside it. But it is also true that a first-fill bourbon cask will mature way faster than when it is on its second-time fill. Hence, it is likely that the taste of the resulting whiskey is a notch higher in quality if you compare it to a whiskey matured in a cask that is nearing the end of its useful life.

Is It Old Whiskey or Whisky?

For the Americans, ask them and they would have it written as “whiskey”. As for the Canadians and the Scottish, they would jot it down as “whisky”. Regardless of how you want to say or spell it, it would not make much of a difference. It will not matter to which class of people you do belong to. There is one type and one whiskey brand that will cater to your epicurean senses.

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Old Whiskey vs Old Whisky

Now we have many different kinds of whiskeys, and they come from all over the world. We have single malt whiskey to blended ones. We are under the impression that the longer time we age it, the more depth, and flavor seems to emerge from it. However, the moment you bottled your whiskey from the still, there is no possible way you can age it any further. Besides, the amount of time that they spend in oak or sherry barrels to “age” them is what makes them “old”.

For this reason, we rounded up 10 of the oldest whiskeys in the world. While this particular list is not at all exhaustive, with this in mind it is going to give you a good idea of what you may need to look for in your grandmother’s attic the next time you are hosting a party in your home or office.

1. The Last Drop 50 Year Old Double Matured

In 2008, three respected names in the liquor industry founded a distillery company, “The Last Drop”. They are the same familiar names behind Bailey’s Irish Cream and Johnnie Walker Blue Label. They are definitely the very same people behind the creation of this brand of whiskey. The commitment of this distillery company in this case like most liquor and distilling firms is to find and bottle some of the world’s most exclusive, rarest, and finest spirits.

 Year: 1965
 Age: 2 years old (50 when first bottled and sold)
 Type of whisky:  Blended Scotch Whisky
 Bottled By:  The Last Drop Distillers
 Location: London, UK

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The Last Drop 50 Year Old Double Matured

The latest offering they have at the moment is a “double matured” blend of whiskey. When you say “double-matured”, it means to say that they aged the whiskey in 2 distinct periods of aging. To enumerate this, the first round of blend contained 50 different whiskeys inside a bourbon cask for 30 years, and then the second blend for it would spend another 20 years, this time around inside a sherry cask. This helped them to produce more than 800 bottle runs of this highly acclaimed whiskey blend.

2. Carsebridge Xtra Old Particular

This 50 year aged grain whiskey stands proud and tall among the Carsebridge Distillery line of the XOPs (Xtra Old Particular). Douglas Laing bottled this whiskey known for its flavor with a distinct fruity tinge. This is the type of whiskey that you will need to look for if you are craving for booze that has a nutty texture to it. What makes this whiskey unique is that it has traces of warming spices, with gooseberry and caramelized apples.

 Year: 1965
 Age: 52 years old
 Type of whisky: Single Grain Scotch Whisky
 Bottled By: Cambus Distillery
 Location: Stirling, Scotland, UK

Carsebridge Xtra Old Particular
Carsebridge Xtra Old Particular

3. Karuizawa

This one is a type of single grain scotch whiskey. They aged these whiskeys  using a refilled bourbon barrel. Today, they consider it as among the oldest of whiskeys with over 50 years of age. Hunter Laing, an independent bottler, released them to the market producing only 267 bottles of “The Sovereign”.

 Year: 1964
 Age: 53 years old
 Type of whisky: Single Malt Whisky
 Bottled By: Karuizawa Distillery
 Location: Miyota, Japan

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Karuizawa Whiskey

Cambus Distillery was the name behind the bottling of The Sovereign. John Mowbray founded this distillery company way back in 1836. In September of 1914, fire razed down the majority of the company’s buildings. But moving forward to 1993, this distillery company suffered major losses. As a result, they had to close down its operations and decommissioned.

4. Dalmore 64 Trinitas

It is very seldom that you will find a qualified luxury whiskey today but this whiskey is on a limited run only. Dalmore 64 Trinitas is actually a blend of spirits, dating back to as early as 1868 to 1867, and 1926 to 1939. They were finally bottled in 1946. After maturing them for another 64 years, they were being brought out and offered to the market in  2010.

 Year: 1946
 Age: 72 years old  (64 when first bottled and sold)
 Type of whisky: Single MaltWhisky
 Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail
 Location: Speyside, Scotland, UK

Dalmore 64 Trinitas
Dalmore 64 Trinitas

Given that this old whiskey is very limited, did you know that they were able to make only 3 bottles of this blend? Hence, those 3 bottles were collectively named together as the “Trinitas”. As a result, it gave the whiskey a good recall among whiskey enthusiasts. One of these three bottles went to an American citizen who is reputed to have a private collection of rare whiskeys. On the other hand, the Whiskey Exchange acquired the other one and had it as an addition to their private collection of vintage whiskeys. Would you believe that they were able to sell the last remaining bottle at a staggering price of 100,000 pounds. It holds the title of being the most expensive whiskey ever sold in October of 2010.

5. Mortlach 70 Year Old Speyside

Mortlach earned the reputation as among the oldest of malt whiskeys in the market today. Until now, Mortlach still stands proudly as among the oldest of whiskeys. While it is true that this malt whiskey underwent 70 years of aging, it only became available and was put on sale in the market only in 2010. The initial offering was 54 full-sized bottles of this fine whiskey, but even so it still managed to sell at a whopping price tag of 10,000 pounds each. 

  Year: 1938
 Age: 79 years old (70 when first bottled and sold)
 Type of whisky: Single Malt Whisky
 Bottled By: Gordon & MacPhail
 Location: Speyside, Scotland, UK

Mortlach 70 Year Old Speyside
Mortlach 70 Year Old Speyside

Gordon and MacPhail were the team behind the release of the 70 year old batch. They piped the first batch of these whiskey bottles in Edinburgh Castle. In order to help them ensure that the whiskey is of high quality and superb taste, they invited random guests to the Queen Anne’s room and had them do some taste testing.

6. Hannisville Rye Whisky

With respect to a letter made by the original owner, before it was transferred to two separate glass carboys, they had the rye contained in oak barrels for 50 years. A man by the name of John Welsh, who is the US Ambassador of Great Britain, purchased them and passed them down in his family for generations. They held possession of the bottle of whiskeys until such time the family decided that it was time to auction them off. The Auld Alliance, a Singapore-based liquor firm, purchased one of the two glass carboys and re-bottled them for distribution. They are selling the whiskey by the bottle and by the glass until now.

Year: 1863
 Age: 154 years old
 Type of whisky: Rye Whisky
 Bottled By: Hannis Distilling Co.
 Location:  Philadelphia, USA.

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Hannisville Rye Whiskey

7. Old Vatted Glenlivet

In 2013, the auction house in New York, Bonhams, made an attempt to auction off a bottle of 1862 Old Vatted Glenlivet. They were successful in doing so because it went off to a staggering amount of $US7,735.  Glenlivet Distillery of Scotland of UK was the name behind the bottling and packaging for this brand of whiskey. They are actually among the oldest legal distilleries founded by George Smith.

 Year: 1862
 Age: 155 years old
 Type of whisky: Single Malt Whisky
 Bottled By: Glenlivet Distillery
 Location:  Scotland, UK

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Old Vatted Glenlivet

But there is another bottle of this fabled whiskey, and it’s quite an interesting story to tell. There is one bottle of the very same whiskey, but instead of putting it in auction what they did though was to ceremoniously pour it over several luxury watches. Hence, it earned an apt title: “Whisky Watch”. The said controversial timepieces were part of the collaboration between Swiss watchmaker, Louis Moinet, and Wealth Solutions. By April of 2017, these precious timepieces became available to the general public.

8. Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky holds the title for being the oldest, most aged whiskey today. And yet  there are no available valid records or any piece of useful information that we can make use of to  help us determine its precise age. While Glenavon Distillery though ceased their operations sometime in 1850s, their legacy of fine whiskeys remained and as a matter of fact still remembered by many. With this in mind regarding the last time the company was still active, we can have here a rough estimate for the age of the bottle of whiskey and we reckon it is about 160 years old. In 2006, an Irish family who owned a bottle of Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky came to surface.

The family who owned a bottle of  Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky offered it up for sale in London at Bonhams auction house. With the sheer size of the small bottle, we reckon that it can only hold around 400 ml of the amber liquid. Even if the whiskey itself seemed not fit for human consumption anymore, they were still able to sell it for 14,875 pounds.

 Year: 1851-1858
 Age: around 160 years old (166-159)
 Type of whisky: Liqueur (non-cream) Whisky
 Bottled By: Glenavon Distillery
 Location:  Scotland, UK

Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky
Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky

9. A 230 year old Whiskey from Jameson Distillery

When John Jameson founded his very own distillery company back in 1780, all that he wanted to do is keep his best practices and secrets all to himself. He does not want to share it with anybody else even though he knew that his workers were faithful to him.  In order to do this, he managed to put up a hidden cellar and kept its whereabouts only to himself. It remained a secret all his life until his death. Not a single person in his company ever knew about this secret cellar, until recently that renovation and facility improvement was necessary to be done that they were accidentally discovered. It is in this secret cellar John worked, day in and out. He left behind in this secret cellar untouched barrels of whiskey. They are still contained in their original cask where John Jameson aged them.  

 Year: 1780
 Age: 230 years old
 Type of whisky: Single Malt Whisky
 Bottled By: Jameson Distillery
 Location: Ballindalloch, Scotland, UK

Glenavon Special Liqueur Whisky may hold the official title of being the oldest whiskey on record. Imagine there is something much older in existence. How much do you think it would fare in the market if they put it on sale? A 100,000 pounds? Or a million, perhaps?

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Old Whiskey from Jameson Distillery

This may sound mushy yet there is some truth in this. Strange as this may sound, given that it can impact the quality of the aging whiskey in the cask, they believed that in order to achieve that perfect peaty taste in whiskey, they need to nurture it as if it were a child. They sang old Irish songs near the oak barrels, most of which are in Gaelic. They believe that the practice of singing old Irish songs next to the aging whiskey would help them give it a stronger flavor.

10. 100 year old whiskey found in a laundry cupboard in Ayrshire

When a strange bottle of malt whiskey was found by accident in a home in Ayrshire, it caused a stir. The old whiskey bottles were found inside a laundry cupboard, wrapped inside a tea towel. Experts reckon the whiskey is one hundred years old. Bottled in the 1920s, the whiskey was initially presented to the manager of Gartloch distillery in Glasgow. After which the company ceased operating. Needless to say, it’s the oldest available Glenfarclas whisky and it is currently on display at the Glenfarclas distillery in Moray.

 Year: 1920
 Age: 100 years old
 Type of whisky: Single Malt Whisky
 Bottled By: Glenfarclas Distillery
 Location: Moray, Scotland, UK

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100 Year Old Whiskey from Ayrshire

Now, going back to the original question we have at the beginning of this article, “why do we age whiskey?”. When it comes to whiskeys, we have to remember that its main flavor component is the oak it aged in. If we don’t age whiskey properly and take it off straight from the still, the resulting spirit is clear white and not going to be the classic amber color in which we know good quality whiskey comes in. The natural property of properly aged spirits is that they are more viscous. They have some tinge of honey and caramel flavors which the oak imparts to it.

The magic in making whiskey begins the moment that it is in contact with the oak barrel. If you want you may try out some of the white whiskeys around, then compare it to a five-year-old, or a 12-year old whiskey. Doing so will actually give you a sense of how this happens. More time in aging a whiskey does not mean to say that the resulting end-product would be superb. There are no secrets to producing an outstanding whiskey, but it is crucial to make use of the right barrel when you age it.

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