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Texas: $2,900 for dinner and a swig of rare 50-year-old Scotch

Cullen's restaurant in Houston has one of the largest whisky and Scotch collections in the state of Texas, manager Ryan Roberts says.
(Justin Calhoun / Cullen’s)

To hear Ryan Roberts tell it, Balvenie Fifty, Cask 4567 had “something different about it.” Whatever made this 1963 Scotch whiskey remarkable -- how the barrel was put together or a quirk in the aging? -- the manager at Cullen’s restaurant in Houston knew he had to have a bottle.

And he will. Roberts plans a meal Nov. 15 for a dozen guests who pay $2,900 each to sample the single malt Scotch whiskey with the man who sealed it in its original cask half a century ago, malt master David Stewart.

“For Scotch lovers, this is nirvana,” Roberts says. Seven people have already bought a seat at the table.

How rare is the bottle? For starters there are only 131 bottles of the stuff on the planet, each valued at $38,000. Of those, only 15 are coming to the United States, he says, and most of those will go to collectors.

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Add the fact that Stewart, whose legendary career spans more than 50 years, will fly from Scotland to oversee the meal and the tasting and ... maybe it’s one of those lightning-in-a-bottle moments.

The menu will feature ribeye cap rubbed with 30-year-old whiskey and braised beef belly. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. with several courses and tastings of five or six Scotch whiskeys.

The end of the meal will feature the Balvenie Fifty, served on its own with “Scottish artisanal water” for those who may want to add a drop or two.

But the bottle won’t go in one night. Roberts plans to save half for others who want to splurge --$900 for half an ounce -- at Cullen’s to taste the Fifty. He’s hoping it will last at least six months.

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Reservations may be made by calling (281) 991-2010 or e-mailing Michele@CullensHouston.com

Info: Cullen’s, 11500 Space Center Blvd., Houston; (218) 991-2000


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