The Macallan distillery, part of Scotch whisky group Edrington, has launched a replica bottling of what is believed to be the oldest known bottle of Scotch in existence.
The original bottle of Macallan whisky, distilled in 1841, is part of an extensive archive at the Speyside distillery. The bottle was opened and sampled for the first time last November and the distiller has taken the past year to replicate faithfully the style of the packaging and the flavour and character of the whisky.
In 1841, most whisky was sold in stoneware flagons or jars, holding between two and eight gallons and it was still very rare for whisky to be sold in glass bottles.
Unlike wine, whisky has little deterioration in a well sealed and stored bottle, so it was possible for Bob Dalgarno, the whisky maker at The Macallan distillery, to assume that the sample he took from the original 1841 bottle was very close to the whisky that was filled into the bottle over 150 years ago.
"We drew samples from more than a thousand casks before we were able to approximate the profile of the original 1841," said Dalgarno. "We made dozens of experimental composite vattings to see how the individual components reacted together. It was like creating a delicate sculpture - when you added one component, you ran the risk of throwing the rest out of balance."
He added: "We only have one bottle of the original 1841 and, therefore, just a handful of people can taste this old and rare whisky. By replicating the packaging and the whisky, we can make this unique bottle available to a wider audience of whisky lovers and collectors."
A limited number of 70cl bottles have been produced at 41.7 per cent abv, which will sell for £99.99 (€158.40) - just a fraction of the cost of the most expensive Macallan whisky ever (and indeed the most expensive bottle of whisky in the world), the Macallan 60 Year Old, which sold at auction for £20,150 in April 2002.