Beverage News

Rare & Special: Ten Most Expensive & One-of-a-Kind Alcoholic Beverages Served in Five-Star Hotels Across India

Posted: January 3, 2015 at 2:13 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

From a Sidecar that can set you back by Rs 1,30,000 plus taxes to a Bacardi bottle carrying a Rs 3,00,000 price tag, a recce of ten drinks you’d like to have if you were to become a billionaire overnight.

IN 2004, WHEN Remy Martin released 786 bottles of the Louis XIII Rare Cask 43,8 (the number indicates a 43.8 per cent alcohol content, slightly higher than the blue-blooded cognac’s 40 per cent), it made history.

For the first time in the life of Louis XIII (and it’s been around for 140 years — a favourite of corporate royalty, hip-hop moguls and Chinese mandarins before President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crackdown), the eau de vie from one cask (or tiercon) — and not a blend of 1,200 different Grande Champagne eau de vie maturing between 40 and 100 years — was considered fit enough to be released by itself. The basic building block of a noble cognac, eau de vie is the colourless grape brandy that is left to mature for decades before it is blended into a cognac.

The Leela Palace New Delhi can therefore legitimately claim bragging rights for being the only hotel in the sub-continent to own the distinctive Baccarat decanter, set in black crystal accentuated by a palladium collar, in which the Louis XIII Rare Cask 786 (that’s the trade name for the 43,8, inspired by the 786 bottles of this rarity) sits at its bar, The Library. You can pardon its excitement, which led its bartenders to set the new gold standard for blingy extravagance by creating the Smoked Sidecar — a shot of Louis XIII Rare Cask 786 infused with Cuban cigar smoke and blended with the orange-flavoured cognac liqueur, Grand Marnier.

Just one Louis XIII Rare Cask Smoked Sidecar can set you back by Rs 1,30,000 plus taxes, and it may never be drunk, and even if it is, no one would ever get to know, but it is enough to get the chatterati talking. Like this, every bar around the country has its own rare and special beverage — though it may not necessarily be anywhere near as expensive as the Smoked Sidecar — that gets the city talking about it.

BT More delved deep into beverage lists across the country to come up with a first-ever list of the ten drinks you’ll find only in one bar across the country. All of them may not be uber expensive (only those that are, have prices mentioned next to them), but they are certainly one of their kind in our bars. Welcome to this rare and exclusive club of life’s greatest pleasures.


WHERE: ITC Gardenia, Bangalore

PRICE: Rs 29,000 for a 60ml shot; Rs 3,62,500 for the 750ml bottle. Plus local taxes.

One of eight working distilleries of Islay now owned by Remy Martin, Bruichladdich became a sort of a joke when the Americans put it under surveillance on the suspicion that Saddam Hussein was getting his so-called “weapons of mass destruction” made under the cover of the distillery’s Victorian equipment dating back to the time when it opened in 1881. It turned out to be a hoax and it’s business as usual at the distillery, whose 40 YO is its oldest-ever bottling. The single malt was distilled in October 1964 and filled into fresh Bourbon casks for four decades before being released in 2004.


WHERE: The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi

PRICE: Rs 80,000 per 60ml, including local taxes

For lovers of this smoky single malt, a perfect after-dinner meditative drink, this is a unique expression of Laphroaig that is unlikely to be made ever again. Distilled in 1970, this Laphroaig owes its origin to the single barrel handed over to the Italian bottler, Silvano Samaroli, in 1986. Samaroli has been selecting and bottling the world’s best whiskies since 1968, so the Laphroaig 1970 has got to be special to have attracted his nose — and attention. You wouldn’t get once its stocks run out — and they have depleting slowly but steadily.


WHERE: The Lodhi, New Delhi

PRICE: Rs 1,05,000 plus local taxes

When The Aman opened with great expectations in New Delhi in 2008, this champagne (also available from the 1988, 1990 and 1997 vintages) was the reigning star of its well-stocked cellar, for it had been disgorged exclusively for the hotel. You won’t, in other words, get to drink this bubbly anywhere else in the world. Created initially for his private consumption in the 1890s by a Frenchman named Eugene Aime Salon, the champagne uses only grapes from the grand cru village of Mesnil-sur-oger. It went commercial in 1921 and been released only 37 times in the last century. When DLF bought The Aman from Adrian Zeca, the hotel got a new name, The Lodhi, but inherited the remaining bottles of this rare champagne.


WHERE: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

PRICE: Rs 3,00,000 per bottle, inclusive of local taxes

Bacardi produced just 3,000 bottles of this limited edition in the Bahamas exclusively for the Millennium Year. The contents of each numbered bottle, matured for eight years in oak barrels and finished in sherry casks, were carefully filled by hand in a Baccarat crystal decanter with the brand’s signature bat on top. Each decanter of this rum comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the then President of Bacardi Limited, Ruben Rodriguez. The maker of the world’s largest-selling rum has never produced anything as exclusive, or as much of a collector’s item, since 2000.


WHERE: The Leela Palace New Delhi

PRICE: Rs 35,000 plus local taxes for 30ml

When spirits industry veteran Tom Jago and his partners James Espey and Peter Fleck of the London-based company, The Last Drop Distillers, went around Scotland looking for leftovers of rare blended Scotch whiskies and single malts in abandoned warehouses, they stumbled upon The Old Dunnage Warehouse at Auchentoshan, a Lowland town northwest of Glasgow. It was here that they discovered 1,347 bottles of a blended Scotch whisky, which was distilled and blended in 1960, and then sat for 12 years in American oak, before being moved in 1972 to sherry casks, where it remained for 36 years. Some 70 malt whiskies from several distilleries that are no longer operating and a dozen grain whiskies into this blend.


WHERE: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

PRICE: Rs 45,000, inclusive of local taxes

This rum is rare because it is made in a 70:30 ratio with both molasses and sugarcane juice, which is fermented with natural yeasts, and then double distilled in pot stills followed by charcoal filtering. Sugarcane juice had to go into this rum, named in honour of the valiant men who fought in the Mexican Revolution, because it is produced in the town of Cordoba in the eastern province of Veracruz, which has for 500 years been famous for its sugarcane. The rum is aged for 10, 15 and 20 years in used American white oak barrels, which lend a light and refined flavour to the finished product.


WHERE: The Claridges, New Delhi

PRICE: Rs 1,145 for 60ml shot, inclusive of local taxes and service charge

It may not carry the mind-boggling price tag of a shot of Kauffman Limited Edition, but this is the only sparkling vodka in the world, which is best stored in a freezer so that it retains its fizz. An invention of a guy named Philip Maitland, this quintessential party drink, created originally for the U.S. market, has remained a bit of a mystery since the process of making it was patented in 2003. What that means is that very limited stocks are in circulation and the vodka, a blend of wheat, malted barley and charcoal-filtered British spring water, may just disappear after people have consumed all of it.


WHERE: Taj Coromandel, Chennai

PRICE: Rs 16,000 per bottle, inclusive of local taxes

With its 72.5 per cent alcoholic content, this bottle of Hapsburg Traditional has got to be the drink with the biggest high present in any bar anywhere in the country. Of course, this emerald green beauty (it’s the colour that has given absinthe, made famous by Bohemian French artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, its nickname ‘The Green Fairy’), is nowhere near the 89.9 per cent of the Black Absinthe. It’s best drunk with three to five portions of water, which causes the  drink to cloud, but is necessary to dilute its alcohol content and to release its sugars to balance its medicinal bitterness. Some people also add sugar.


WHERE: The Claridges, New Delhi

PRICE: Rs 20,995 for 60ml shot, inclusive of local taxes and service charge

A creation of Russia’s biggest wine and spirits importer, Dr Mark Kauffman, it commands the prices it does globally because it is the only vintage vodka in the world. Only 25,000 numbered bottles of it are produced only in those years when Dr Kauffman is convinced that the wheat going into the making of the vodka is of a standard that matches up to the product’s reputation. It is distilled, just once in a vintage year, for an extraordinary 14 times before two filtrations — through birch coal and quartz sand, one after the other — and then packaged into one-of-their-kind penguin-shaped bottles with silver tops that look like the bird’s head.


WHERE: The Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi

All paan lovers, who like it saada, know about kimam, the aromatic, ketchup-like blend of tobacco, spices (cardamom, saffron and/or aniseed) and additives such as musk. Imagine drinking vodka infused with kimam? Or having your cocktail spiked with bitters made with mulethi (liquorice), the medicinal herb that practitioners of ayurveda just love? The inventive bartenders at Delhi’s Taj are busy creating flavoured vinegars, infused vodkas and bitter to add a touch of newness, and perhaps unpredictability, to classic cocktails. They are rare because not everyone can get them right. And they are special because they are one of their kind.

This article first appeared in the January 2015 edition of Business Today More. Copyright: Business Today. To check out the original, go to the link below: