Luxury whiskey clubs are nothing new. They exist around the country and provide a members-only experience complete with perfectly tailored suits, rich wood, expensive cigars, and truly world-class whiskey. In 2012, however, a club opened in NYC that’s been taking the game to a whole new level. Meet Club 1494, NYC’s most exclusive whiskey club. Here’s what you need to know.
The History of Club 1494
Club 1494 opened in response to founder David Clelland’s desire to blur the lines between collector and distiller, while also making the search for world-class whiskeys a bit more accessible.
The club gets its name from the year King James IV, of Scotland, first asked that distillers start producing single-malt Scotch whiskey, which stands out as the purest version on earth.
The Perks of Club 1494
1494 opened its doors in 2012 and it didn’t disappoint journalists who had been calling it the “most exclusive whiskey club in the world.” True to form, the club set up shop in a luxurious, five-story townhouse, which was ideal for holding its $5 million-worth of rare whiskeys. The club boasts one of the largest selections of privately collected whiskeys in the world.
Beyond its large selection, the club also offers its members exclusive access to Manhattan Motors, which offers brands like Bentley and Porsche, Nat Sherman cigars, private car services, and occasional distillery tours in Scotland.
According to TheDailyMeal.com, the rarest bottles at Club 1494 include a Black Bowmare which has been aging for more than 43 years. The club also boasts a 50-year-old bottle of Macallan. Both bottles were purchased at auctions and stand out as some of the most sought-after whiskeys in the entire world.
Whiskey: The Ultimate Luxury Item
While some people think of gold or diamonds when they think of a luxurious lifestyle, it turns out that whiskey might be more valuable. According to Forbes, people who invested in the ten top-performing whiskeys of the world between 2008-2011 enjoyed a 400% gain, as compared to the 146% gain of gold during the same time period.
While there is a massive variety of whiskey on the market, the world’s top bottles can easily collect more than $100,000 a piece. Here are some of the most expensive bottles in the world, several of which members of Club 1494 have the pleasure of tasting:
- The Macallan “M”: Fetching a sales price of $628, 205 during a Sotheby’s auction held in Hong Kong, this bottle stands out as the most expensive ever sold. The high-ticket price comes down not only to the whiskey itself, which is made up from seven barrels selected by a master blender from a selection of more than 200,000, but also the bottle. To construct the glass receptacle that houses this whiskey, 17 different artists worked for more than 50 hours each. The bottle is hand-blown glass and is the only perfect specimen from the more than 40 created.
- Yamazaki 50-year-old: Coming in with a sales price of $133,999, this bottle tops the charts as the product of the oldest and most revered distillery in all of Japan. While the 50-year old is by far the best the Suntory distillery has to offer, the company also produces a 25-year, 12-year, and 18-year vintage for those shopping for something a bit less expensive. This, of course, is not a problem for Club 1494 members.
- The Macallan 1926: Selling for 75,000 in 2005, this bottle was purchased by a South Korean businessman. Distilled back in 1926, this bottle’s high value comes down to the fact that it’s credited with representing the start of Macallan’s dominance in the whiskey market. Hand-bottled at the distillery, this variety’s dark, satisfying color comes from the oaken casks in which it ages.
- Glenfiddich 1937: Coming in as the 7th most expensive whiskey in the world, this single malt is known for its rich cedar, chocolate, and oak tones. Pulled from the 843rd cask closed the same year King George VI was crowned, the Glenfiddich whiskey comes from the hands of master whiskey craftsmen. One of only 61 bottles in the world, the most recent bottle was sold at auction in 2012.
The Luxury of Exclusive Whiskey Clubs
With an annual membership fee of more than $15,000, Club 1494 stands out as one of the most exclusive whiskey clubs in the world. It’s not alone, though, and other such establishments have been popping up around the globe, dedicated to providing a unique and luxurious experience for die-hard whiskey connoisseurs and collectors.