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$550 For One Shot

The real high life: Revered Houston bar touts a $550 shot of whiskey, calls it a "steal"

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Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
This box holds one of only 50 bottles of Glenmorangie 1963 that have been made available to Scotch Whisky collectors.  Photo by: Daniel Ortiz
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Want to try it? Reserve 101 will sell 1.5 ounce shots for $550 each.  Photo by: Daniel Ortiz
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Glenmorangie Head of Distilling & Whisky Creation Dr. Bill Lumsden, center, poses with Reserve 101 co-owners Mike Raymond, left, and Steve Long Photo by: Daniel Ortiz
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Lumsden calls the 63 "a beautiful, old fashioned type of whiskey." Photo by: Daniel Ortiz
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal
Reserve 101 Whisky Reveal

Downtown whiskey bar Reserve 101 held a press conference this weekend to show off an ultra rare bottle of scotch whisky. Numbered 37 of 50, the Glenmorangie 1963 is considered a piece of distilling history, since it was the first ever Scotch to be transferred from bourbon barrels to Sherry casks for finishing.

Reserve 101 put the bottle on its bar Saturday night and will sell a 1.5 ounce shot for $550. No word on whether or not it pairs with a $200 burger.

Originally released in 1987, the whiskey is now a highly sought after collector's item. Glenmorangie head of distilling & whisky creation Dr. Bill Lumsden discovered a box that contained 53 additional bottles of the 63 last year as he was spelunking through the company's archives. After using three bottles to verify that the bottles contained the historic liquor, the remaining 50 were rebottled and made available to collectors.

 "It sounds like a lot, but for what you're getting, it's a steal."  

"A very small number has come here to the United States. I think fewer than a dozen," Lumsden said. "I would be absolutely amazed if I saw another one of these bottles here in the state of Texas. I’m doubly delighted that it’s found a home here, at one of the best whiskey bars I’ve encountered in my travels, not just here in the States, but globally."

For Reserve 101 co-owner Mike Raymond, obtaining a bottle of Glenmorangie 1963 is just as much a status symbol for him as it will be for the people who will pay for a single serving what the most devoted bourbon obsessives pay for an entire bottle of cult favorite Pappy Van Winkle.

"What we always try to do is separate ourselves from everyone else out there. I'd say there's 20, 25 whiskey bars that we're kind of in the same category of throughout the country," Raymond tells CultureMap.

"As far as we know, we're the only bar that has this bottle." 

As for what it tastes like, Lumsden shared the experience he's had during the undoubtedly grueling process of tasting the sample bottles. "It’s very rich," he says. "It’s an unashamedly old fashioned type of whiskey. There’s a subtle smokiness . . . There’s a peatiness in there. There’s all these lovely Christmas-y type flavors of warm spices and dates. It’s a beautiful, old fashioned type of whiskey."

Given that opening a bottle immediately decreases its value, Raymond thinks people who have managed to obtain one of the 50 bottles might fly to Houston just to taste what they bought. As word spreads, Raymond thinks people will make their way to Reserve for the experience: "I could see it selling in a week. I could see it still being here six months from now.

"It sounds like a lot," Raymond says of the price, "but for what you're getting, it's a steal."

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