The Most Expensive Thing I Ever Drank

Brandon Clements’ Island Heat on fire

The most expensive thing I ever drank may be one of only 12 bottles of Dalmore’s Sirius Scotch with Master Blender Richard Paterson, a blend of vintages all the way back to 1868… or maybe it was 1865 Rouyer Guillet & Co. cognac shared by Salvatore Calabrese at Tales of the Cocktail 2010. Most recently, however, it was Legacy by Angostura, valued at $25,ooo for one of only 20 bottles worldwide (3 coming soon to the US)… the first bottle sold for $40,000 with most of the proceeds going to charity.

Anyone who spends much of their days tasting knows that older doesn’t mean better… neither does more expensive. I cannot count the times I’ve sighed with delight over a mid-range spirit compared to a more expensive pour alongside it.

Legacy by Angostura

Though best known for the most famous of all bitters, Angostura Trinidadian rums are a pleasure. 1919 is the most popular, but my two favorites are the woody elegance of 1824 as a sipping rum, or the value of Angostura 7 year rum (usually around $25) which elevates a cocktail but works neat, too.

Tasting through the line with Master Distiller John Georges, who worked with Master Blender Robert Wong and crew over 6 years blending Legacy, we discussed Legay’s long finish, its liveliness yet signature elegance.
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They went all out on an Asprey hand blown crystal decanter with Art Deco design and sterling silver stopper of a butterfly (their signature logo) atop sugar cane.

As for the product itself, I cannot imagine having a fortune and wanting to spend $20k of it on a bottle of anything. But for those who do, nosing Legacy’s whispers of tropical fruit and vanilla-clove is to be transported to the Caribbean, albeit a restrained, elegant vision of it. To taste, dried fruit, spice and orange zest comingle with subtle wood and tobacco notes. Consider it Trinidadian history (the youngest rum in the blend being 17 years old) in a glass.

Clements’ version of a classic Daiquiri

At Spruce in Laurel Heights, Brandon Clements recently crafted cocktails using the line of Angostura rums at a special dinner, including a 1919 rum-papaya-pineapple-pomegranate juice imbibement. He sets a thick pineapple wedge aflame, caramelizing demerara sugar on top. Clements’ house cinnamon-cardamom tincture adds a layer of spiced complexity.

My favorites were his elevated (tart, clean, yet lush) classic Daiquiri, and Island Heat, a decadent blend of expensive 1824 Angostura rum macerated with apples, spice added from pür orange spice liqueur, bitter ting from Gran Classico, a rinse of Black Bottle Scotch with two dashes of Angostura bitters.