$26,000 bottle of scotch stolen from Toronto LCBO, police say

Toronto police handout

Toronto police handoutA security camera image of a suspect in the theft of $26,000 bottle of scotch

When a man in a Burberry shirt, cap and brown trench coat paid for his bottle of wine at a Queens Quay liquor store on Saturday April 7, he was just another customer stocking up for the weekend. Only later was he suspected of stealing a bottle of scotch.

But it wasn’t just any bottle of scotch. It was a 50-year-old Glenfiddich Single Malt, valued at $26,000, one of only 15 in Ontario and 50 worldwide.

It was also the single most expensive item ever stolen from an Liquor Control Board of Ontario store, said Heather MacGregor, media relations co-coordinator for the LCBO.

“This bottle was displayed in a locked cabinet,” she said, adding that there were other high-priced items stored at that location as well, including seven bottles of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, valued at $2,800 each, and an $800 bottle of Chateau Margaux vintage wine. “There are quite a few very exclusive and rare products that are offered at that store.”

According to Andrew Ferguson, co-manager and whisky expert at the Calgary-based Kensington Wine Market, the 700-millilitre bottle fetched such a high price because of its rarity. Glenfiddich, one of the best-known and most-decorated scotch distilleries in the world, produces very few bottles in that age range.

“They don’t have a lot of older whisky, and yet they’re the world’s number one selling Single Malt,” he said. “It’s like any luxury good. If the value seems to be high for something it not only creates an incentive for thieves, but it creates an incentive for counterfeiters as well.”

Mr. Ferguson explains that there is a growing market for rare whisky in places like Taiwan, China and Russia, and a growing black market for vintage alcohol worldwide.

Mr.Ferguson, who has been honoured as Canada’s only keeper of the Quaich, a society that promotes the heritage and quality of scotch, is one of the few to sample the only other 50-year-old single malt scotch released by Glenfiddich.

“It was just incredibly deep and complex,” he said. “You would expect something that old to be over the top oaky and one-dimensional, and it was nothing like that at all. It had lots of layers and complexity and depth, and it was quite subtle in many ways.”

While there are a wide variety of aged whiskies on the market, Mr. Ferguson explains that many are matured longer than necessary, and can spoil if left in a barrel for too long.

“That’s why some of these older whiskies, the pricey ones, are so highly sought after because of this magical balance between time and flavour development,” he said. “Older whiskies over 40 years of age often disappoint, but when they don’t, they’re breathtakingly beautiful.”

With Glenfiddich only releasing 50 bottles of the 50-year old single-malt each year for 10 years, Mr. Ferguson just hopes the bottle doesn’t go to waste.

“Wherever that bottle ends up, I just hope it ends up getting opened and enjoyed by someone.”


the whisky bottle

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