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You Sure You Want to Drink That?

With the rising cost of whisky, should you hang on to the bottles you have?

At the Top of the Alpha in Makati, Macallan is about to make an announcement. Each room in the entire floor has been set up to serve a label in Macallan’s stable. There’s one for the Sherry Oak, another for the Triple Cask, and the bar at the front is making cocktails out of the 12-year-old. There’s music and steaks and cigars, chocolates and cheese and people from all over town.

Then the news drops: The Edition No. 4 has just been made available.

Made as a tribute to the brand’s new distillery at the Eastern Elchies estate in Scotland, the No. 4 focuses on the structure of the whisky, and is meant to draw a parallel to the distillery itself.

Why does this news matter? Because limited editions like these are the rock stars of the whisky world. They only go on tour once in a while, but people leap at the chance to get the tickets. And for a brand like Macallan, which has been a storied name since 1824, these tickets go fast. Once they’re gone, well, you can tell how it goes after that.

Image by Ian Gavan of Magnum Photos

Consider this: the Macallan Edition No. 1 is selling for upwards of a thousand dollars now. That’s about a 400-percent increase in price for something that was bottled in 2015. Still, that’s not too surprising. The cost of whisky bottles, particularly the limited ones, have been jumping up the ladder for the past few years. But it’s the truly rare ones that have been tearing down the ceiling.

Just this November, a Macallan 1926 sold at auction for US$1.5 million in London, making it the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold. Back in October, a 60-year-old Macallan sold for US$1.1 million at an auction in Edinburgh, and was also the most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold. For all of a month, anyway. Before that, the record holder was also a Macallan bottle that fetched a little over US$1 million at an auction in Hong Kong.

That’s three world records, just this year, all by Macallan.

So, what does this all mean? Basically, there’s a whole lot of demand and not a whole lot of whisky to go around, especially when you go chasing after the more prized bottles.

Should you stop drinking your limited editions, then? Well, according to Adrian Tecson, the brand ambassador for Macallan in the Philippines, he’s been hearing a lot about people collecting whisky as an investment.

“Personally, though, as brand ambassador, if you buy a whisky, you buy it to drink it,” he says.

And when asked about what trends he’s seeing on the horizon, whether people will get into a particular taste for the coming year, he says: “For sure the demand’s not going to go down. The only trend you can be sure of is that people will drink more.”

The way things are going, that’s dead certain. Though if you plan on breaking out the glasses and opening a limited edition, you might want to keep an extra bottle. Just in case.