Malt in your mouth: Japanese whisky fetches HK$260,000 at Hong Kong auction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 August, 2014, 9:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 August, 2014, 5:53am

A bottle of Yamazaki 50 Year Old single malt whisky fetched a recordHK$257,250 at a Bonhams sale in Hong Kong on Friday evening, the auction house said.

Bonhams sold a total of HK$6.56 million worth of whisky with 97 per cent of the lots sold.

The top lot was a Macallan 55 Year Old limited edition in a Lalique crystal decanter that fetched HK$294,000.

Bottled in 2011 after 50 years spent ageing in a Japanese oak cask, the Yamazaki is one of only 150 bottles produced. It sold above its high estimate of HK$190,000, Bonhams said.

The sale comes amid growing interest in the liquor known as the "water of life" from Hong Kong and mainland buyers - though Scottish, rather than Asian, brands have typically brought in the big money. In 2009, Bonham was the first auction house to hold a whisky auction in Hong Kong, putting rare single malt whiskies under the hammer.

In recent years, whisky has enjoyed a surge in sales due in part to buyers from Asia who are fast developing a more sophisticated palate for the liquor.

But President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption has probably impacted sales with figures from the Scottish Whisky Association showing that 16.7 million bottles of Scotch were sold on the mainland last year, a 27 per cent drop from the 22.9 million bottles sold in 2012.

In April this year, a Hong Kong man paid HK$793,000 to secure the first cask of whisky sold at a public auction in the city.

Auctioneers Spink China said the cask was filled 25 years ago with a 1989 Macallan single malt.

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. At Friday's Bonham's auction, six of the 10 top lots were Japanese whiskies, including those from Karuizawa, a distillery that closed in 2001, and bottles from Hanyu Ichiro's playing card series that are highly sought by collectors. A Hanyu Ichiro set made up of five bottles, each made from a separate cask, sold for HK$159,250.


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