By James Atkinson

Just two bottles of a rare 50-year-old single cask bottling of The Balvenie single malt whisky will be available for sale in Australia with a $30,000 price tag.

Only 88 bottles are available worldwide of The Balvenie Fifty, which was produced from a single cask filled in 1962, the year malt master David Stewart began working at The Balvenie Distillery as a 17-year-old.

"Cask 5576 and I have shared the last five decades together at The Balvenie Distillery and as single malt making is as much art and alchemy as precise science, the interaction between wood and maturing whisky means each cask will produce something entirely unique," Stewart said.

"It's a great delight to discover how after half a century this unique cask has turned out a truly special single malt."

In a tutored tasting of the 50-year-old conducted by Stewart, who appeared by 'tele-presence' from London, the malt master told media in Sydney that the cask may have originally held as many as 350 bottles when it was filled in 1962.

"So you can see that the 'angel's share' has taken a lot of whisky over the 50 years," he said.

The Balvenie malt master, David Stewart

"That's why it's so rare and expensive – there's not many casks of this age left in the Scotch whisky industry."

The Balvenie Fifty was matured in a European oak sherry hogshead, rarely used today in whisky making. The long maturation has created a wonderful fragrant and floral whisky, which is velvety sweet with a beautifully balanced combination of sweet citrus notes and gentle hints of honey, spice and oak. 

"It's not overly oaky, it's really silky smooth, it's got that nice citrus sweetness – oranges, lemons, a little bit spicy," Stewart said.

"It's still very much Balvenie, but it's really a very unique single cask of Balvenie."

Several of the bottles have already been snapped up by collectors. A steakhouse in Los Angeles has a bottle open for sale to well-heeled patrons at $4,000 a dram.

One of just a handful of malt masters in Scotland, Stewart  (pictured right in 1979) estimates that he has nosed over 400,000 whisky casks in his long career.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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