Every once in a while, someone in the whiskey industry decides to shake things up by charging a ridiculous amount of money for a limited-edition bottle release. In certain cases, the whiskey has been legitimately distilled and aged by the company. Though most of the time distilleries source their juice from other facilities, claim it has been masterfully aged by their in-house expert whiskey warlocks with special wooden spoons, and then bottled and labeled to fool the masses. It’s annoying, and in reality, the only companies to have been truly successful at maintaining a higher price point for vintage releases are those that have been around for many years and can pull barrels from storage to prove it. 

Scotch and Japanese whisky have some of the most expensive releases in the collectors’ realm pushing upwards of $50,000 in some instances, but these people know their worth and any real whisk(e)y connoisseur will be able to explain why they would purchase a $5,000 bottle of Macallan over some newly revamped distillery claiming to have a special vintage release when they have only been distilling for a few years. It’s actually really easy to source a whiskey and sell it as something else. Let us walk you through the steps.

1. Make a few phone calls to procure product.

2. Get a box (a crafted wooden one, preferably with a branded logo and some sort of metal stamp that signifies authenticity).

3. Put your whiskey in that box.

4. Make someone buy your expensive box with subpar whisk(e)y.

That is pretty much how you do it! There’s really nothing in place stopping companies from doing that these days. No one has to release where they sourced from as long as it adheres to production standards. There have only been a few higher priced ones over the years that we’ve really wanted to get our hands on, but the secondary mark up for a whisk(e)y being sold at over 6-10x retail is enough to make consumers seek other alternatives. Also, all of those old frat dudes that hang out at the bar at the Olive Garden boasting about their overpriced Pappy hoard need to just stop. There’s a reason why you have no one to drink it with. With that being said, here are a few whiskies that you should know about in case you’re thinking about hanging out with the Olive Garden bros.  

Teeling 34-Year-Old Vintage Reserve
Single Malt

Apparently one of the oldest age statements bottled in the history of the Irish craft. With only 38 bottles available, Teeling has priced each bottle at $5,000 (that doesn’t include a used Honda Civic). The newest Teeling distillery has only been around since 2015, so this whiskey is most likely from an old mish mash Bushmills barrel hoard the family held onto over the years from previous acquisitions. We aren’t saying Teeling whiskey is bad, they’re known for reviving some of the classics such as the Tyrconnell while earning prestigious awards in the process. What we are saying is that even though this is a heavily aged whiskey, at 81.8 proof it’s not going to be something that wows the palate, especially when you can buy approximately 200 bottles of Jameson instead. 

Old Rip Van Winkle 23 Year

We tried the 2017 offering and even though it’s a pleasant sipper, The George T. Stagg Antique offering from Buffalo Trace put this bottle to shame. The secondary markup pushing north of $2,600 will make you just want to settle on another wheat alternative such as Weller 12 Year (people mix the Wellers together to get what is known as “Poor Man’s Pappy”). Weller makes Old Rip anyway, so you’re just paying for an older Weller age statement. If you absolutely just have to have a bottle though, the Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year is the best tasting of the Van Winkle offerings. Tastes even better if you can get it at retail for $100. 

WhistlePig Boss Hog IV The Black Prince

With a name that sounds capable of committing identity theft, the Black Prince is a straight rye whiskey bottled at barrel strength that comes with a really neat bottle stopper closely resembling the villainous Bebop from Ninja Turtles (now you’re curious). The bottle and tasting notes have a strong appeal to a lot of enthusiasts who jumped on the opportunity to own a bottle that received Best in Show at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017. We haven’t seen one in the wild under $550, while all of the rest of their whiskies are priced around $100, which is a normal price point. WhistlePig waited to set the price until after the World Spirits Competition, and well, they thought it justified a $500+ price point. While this is a great sipper, there are plenty of other ryes I’d buy and feel comfortable about drinking at a much lower price. 

Ultimately, we would drink all of these, on someone else’s dollar. These companies all have some great products, but to someone who wants to sip and savor their purchase, don’t waste your money.