First cask of whisky publicly auctioned in Hong Kong fetches HK$793,000

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 5:27am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 5:27am

A Hong Kong man has paid HK$793,000 to secure the first cask of whisky sold at public auction in the city.

The cask was filled 25 years ago today with a 1989 Macallan single malt.

If the buyer decides to open the cask now, the 120 litres of whisky it contains will fill 174 standard 700ml bottles - putting the price per bottle at about HK$4,500.

Distillers and whisky lovers said the sale - at a price similar to the auctioneer's estimate - reflected a growing interest in the sophisticated taste of single malt Scotch among Asian buyers.

The male, middle-aged buyer has yet to decide if he will bottle the whisky or keep it in the cask to continue ageing, said Anna Lee, vice-chairman of auctioneers Spink China.

"This is the first time a cask has been sold at a public auction," she said after the two-hour sale netted a total of HK$1.3 million, with 60 per cent of the stock finding a buyer.

About 50 people attended the auction in Wan Chai yesterday, including Ian McKerrow, who hosted the city's first whisky festival, Malt Masters, a fortnight ago. Gordon Dundas, a Taiwan-based brand ambassador for Glasgow whisky-maker Morrison Bowmore Distillers, said interest in single malt whisky had grown quickly in the past decade, especially in Asia.

"Certainly, there is an attraction to aged whiskies in Asia, probably more than any other part of the world," Dundas said.

The interest came from people who were developing a more sophisticated palate for the tipple and from those who see whisky as an investment opportunity.

To be considered a single malt, a whisky must be made using only malted barley at a single distillery and aged in oak casks for at least three years.

Earlier this year, Sotheby's in Hong Kong sold a six-litre bottle of the rare Macallan M single malt for a record US$628,000.