What does a $750 shot of Scotch taste like? Brent Kaufer found out on Tuesday night — and it didn’t cost him a penny. The 31-year-old was the first person to go through every pour on the St. Paul Grill’s extensive single-malt Scotch list — 72 in all. It took him 10 months and cost about $2,000 overall. His prize was the Holy Grail of Scotches: a complimentary pour of the ultra-rare and ultra-expensive Macallan 55. (Ok, so it cost him a little something to taste this revered whisky.)

As its name suggests, this particular Scotch was aged for 55 years in sherry oak barrels in Speyside, Scotland. The old distillery made only 100 bottles available for distribution in the United States. The St. Paul Grill purchased four of them during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Each bottle was priced at about $12,000.

On Tuesday, Kaufer brought his fiance along for the monumental end of his Scotch tasting journey (anyone can join the bar’s Scotch club and attempt to reach this goal). She described him as the opposite of a partier who blows his money on overpriced whisky. He’s the studious type, but with a competitive streak. Kaufer works fulltime as a sales manager at a large telecommunications company and is a full-time grad student. His weekly late-night retreat to the St. Paul Grill was his “oasis from studying,” he said.

Part of the Macallan 55’s mystique lies in its marketing, something Kaufer fully acknowledged. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to taste the difference between a $75 pour or this $750 doozy. “But that sense of history isn’t lost on me,” he said. “The liquid is older than my parents. It’ll take three seconds for each sip, but it took 55 years to produce this particular flavor profile.”

And with that, he drank. The Macallan 55 is known for its smokiness and lingering citrus finish. After allowing the initial drops to wash over his tongue, Kaufer struggled to describe the flavors held within the 55-year-old liquid.

His first reaction: “That’s good.” 

(Photo by Tom Wallace)