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Scot's National Drink, Now Available at 1,000 Pounds a Nip

Dram, Scotland's national drink, is on sale for 1,000 pounds a measure.

Available at the main bar at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, the rare Johnnie Walker 1805 has just gone on sale. It is claimed to be a very limited edition: only 200 bottles have been made to celebrate the birthday of the label's founder.

That scarcity value has been enhanced, the makers claim, by the fact the majority of the nine malts used are from distilleries which have since shut down. None of the bottles are on sale to the public: the Gleneagles hotel has one, and another is behind the bar of Fifty, a members-only club in London.

Like some historic trophy, the 1805, according to the Scotsman, is kept in a walnut lacquer box in a display case in the hotel's main bar.

Johnnie Walker says it has given bottles of this limited edition to "individuals deemed to have made the most significant contribution to modern life". The company, however, isn't saying who.

The ritual for tasting the 1805 is suitably reverential. The recommended method is to take the whisky in a brandy balloon made by renowned Austrian glass manufacturer Riedel rather than the traditional tumbler - the whisky's makers believe the thin lip of the glass and its shape bring out the accent of its taste.

A chilled glass of Highland Spring water is given complimentary. Whisky cognoscenti differ over whether the whisky should or should not be taken with water. Some argue that a few drops of water actually gives the drink the flavour, but master distillers of the 1805 suggest this whisky is best left to hit the tongue undiluted.

The 1805 is smooth, has a hint of peach and a suggestion of vanilla, is warm, and with only a light lingering "smoke" to it.

Gleneagles is confident there will be a market for the 1805 sonner than later.

The Johnnie Walker 1805's nearest competitor in the Gleneagles bar is a 40- year-old Bowmore malt at 550 pounds a measure. The hotel has sold six bottles of it in the past four years.

Gleneagles has exclusivity on the 1805 because it and the Johnnie Walker company are both owned by drinks giant Diageo.


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