Whisky Rebellion

Good to the last drop: Houston bar offers rare whisky at $750 a shot (plus tax)

Good to last drop: Houston bar offers premium whisky at $750 a shot

Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978
The Glenmorangie Pride 1978 has been aged for 34 years. Taste it for $750 (plus tax). Photo by Eric Sandler
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978 Mike Raymond
Reserve 101 co-owner Mike Raymond thinks Houston is "becoming a great market for whisky." Photo by Eric Sandler
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978
Glenmorangie brand ambassador David Blackmore flew to Houston to introduce the bottle.  Photo by Eric Sandler
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978
The Pride 1978 comes in a crystal decanter and with a numbered print by artist Idris Khan. Photo by Eric Sandler
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978 Mike Raymond
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978
Reserve 101 Glenmorangie Pride 1978

"We've very excited. It's a very special bottle."

That's how Reserve 101 co-owner Mike Raymond introduced the latest high-dollar purchase he's added to the back bar at the downtown whisky bar, a Glenmorangie Pride 1978 that's one of only 100 bottles to be sold in America.

Back in February, Reserve sold shots of the limited-edition Glenmorangie 1963 for $550 per shot. It sold out in 66 days.

If a collector can obtain one, the retail price for a bottle is $5,800. However, whisky connoisseurs with a taste for the best can purchase a 1.5-ounce shot for $750 (or $811 with tax). Back in February, Reserve sold shots of the limited-edition Glenmorangie 1963 for $550 per shot. It sold out in 66 days.   

Raymond concedes that a shot that costs just under what people may pay for a small apartment is probably the ceiling of the current market for whisky, but that it could go even higher over time. "I always take a ladder approach. When I saw the 63 that we had at $550 per shot sell out as quickly as it did and nobody seemed to bat an eye, I was a little surprised." 

Glenmorangie master brand ambassador David Blackmore, in Houston to introduce the bottle, says it's the only bottle of Pride 1978 in Texas, and the only bottle in America he's aware of that's currently available for purchase by the shot. If the Pride 1978 sells as quickly as the 1963 did, Raymond could go hunting for other, even higher-priced bottles.

"There’s some great things out there, but you start looking at a $10,000 bottle. I don’t think we’d be able to sell by the dram just yet, but we’ll see," Raymond says. 

Blackmore led a tasting for the media members Monday. He identifies cedar, toffee and fudge notes "on the nose" when sniffing the prime whiskey. Upon tasting, he pointed out elements of baked apples, eucalyptus, toasted oak and creamy fudge.

 "Amazing to think 34-years in oak of some description, you still have that complexity. It’s not an oak sandwich," Blackmore notes.

Raymond credits the spirit's complex flavors to the aging process that saw it spend 19 years in American white oak barrels and 15 years in Bordeaux barrels from France's celebrated Rothschild winery. That's the longest amount of time Glenmorangie has provided a second period of aging outside of white oak to a spirit.

"I think it’s excellent," Raymond says. "You can only get these types of flavors from spending time in the right barrels." 

Blackmore offered something of a takeaway from Reserve 101 becoming a destination for rare whisky enthusiasts. "People in Houston appreciate good whisky, whether it comes from Scotland or this country, and have the money to spend on it," he says.