Behind the rare whisky boom: House of Hazelwood, Ladyburn Edition Two and The Glenlivet Sample Room Collection

Luxury, older-age statements and experiences are still dominating the Scottish whisky industry.

It’s often been thought the older the whisky, the better it is. And while some superb non-age statements have put paid to this, old and rare drams are still taking centre stage with most of the big distilleries in Scotland.

Late last month, William Grant & Sons – the owners of Glenfiddich and The Balvenie – launched House of Hazelwood. Named after the Grant's Dufftown family home, Hazelwood House, this range offers enthusiasts access to old, rare and (as the team say) storytelling whiskies.

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Describing the rare bottlings now available, House of Hazelwood marketing director Jonathan Gibson said: “Unlike most Scotch whisky producers, our business carries with it no requirement to release whiskies of a given age or a given style on a set date. This is a collection of individual spirits, representing unique casks, trials that have taken place over the years and combinations that may never be seen again. Central to this is the philosophy that the maturing stock is ready when it’s ready. The inventory is regularly sampled, with meticulous records kept of its progress. Only once it reaches its peak will it be bottled – and of course, in a world of individuals, once it’s gone, it is truly gone.”

It’s a busy month for William Grant & Sons and they’ve also just released Ladyburn Edition Two. This is an ultra-rare 55-year-old whisky from the transformative decade of the 1960s, paired with rarely seen images from the archive of British fashion photographer Norman Parkinson. To give an idea of the rarity of these bottles, the Ladyburn David Bailey’s John Lennon single-bottling, which was created especially for The Distillers One of One auction in December last year, sold for over £80,000.

Another big Speyside player, The Glenlivet, has just launched the Sample Room Collection, which sees the 21 and 25-year-old whiskies reimagined. With price points around £300 and £600, these are definitely not ones you’ll pick up off the cuff, but show how willing the distillery teams are to put their time into offering a luxury product.

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