Moutai and Karuizawa (pic: Sotheby's)
Asia

Sotheby’s offers ‘first’ and ‘most valuable’ Moutai at auction

A rare collection of Moutai and the oldest Karuizawa released will go under the hammer at Sotheby's auction this month.

Auction house Sotheby’s will offer its first-ever Moutai lot, the most famous Chinese spirit, which will fetch up to £450,000 in its Rare Whisky & Moutai | Extraordinary Spirits from Asia & Scotland.

Leading the sale on June 2-18 are 24 bottles of Kweichow Moutai “Sunflower” 1974, housed in their original wooden shipping crate.

This is not only the first Moutai lot to be presented for auction by Sotheby’s in the UK, but also the most valuable Moutai lot Sotheby’s has offered to date (est. £200,000-450,000), it says.

24 bottles of Kweichow Moutai “Sunflower” 1974 carry a high estimate of 450,000. (pic: Sotheby's)
24 bottles of Kweichow Moutai “Sunflower” 1974 carry a high estimate of £450,000. (pic: Sotheby’s)

Also from Asia, the auction house will present a selection of Japanese whiskies from Yamazaki, Hibiki, Hanyu and Saburomaru, led by a collection of 32 bottles of Karuizawa, all from a single collection known as The Unbeatable Collection of Karuizawa.

The most notable bottle from the collection is the Karuizawa Cask #5267 1960, formerly the world’s most valuable Japanese whisky when a bottle sold at Sotheby’s in March 2020 for £363,000 ($435,273). This is the first time a bottle from this cask has been seen at auction since that record was set (est. £240,000-450,000).

Karuizawa Cask #5267 1960 will be on offer (pic: Sotheby's)
Karuizawa Cask #5267 1960 will be on offer (pic: Sotheby’s)

The Scotch Whisky in the sale is headlined by two outstanding bottles distilled at Bowmore Distillery on Islay. Both were distilled in the 1960s, a key era in the history of production at Bowmore, and one which is revered amongst whisky enthusiasts and collectors.

Bowmore Samaroli Bouquet 1966 is considered to be one of the greatest whiskies of all time. Distilled in 1966 at Bowmore and bottled around 18 years later in 1984 by the late Silvano Samaroli, this bottle has gone on to become a cult classic (est. £35,000-48,000). Sotheby’s currently holds the record for this bottle, setting a price of £72,600 in October 2019.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Bowmore 50 Year Old Number 1 Vaults 1966 is a long-aged expression from the same vintage (est. £26,000-35,000). Bottled in 2017, only 74 bottles were produced, making it one of the rarest expressions of Bowmore ever released. 

Elsewhere in Scotland, the sale offers a number of long-aged expressions from the Speyside region. Highlights include a bottle of Glenlivet Gordon & MacPhail Generations 70 Year Old 1940 (est. £3,000-4,000), the oldest whisky ever upon its release in 2010, as well as 40 year old expressions from The Balvenie and Glenfarclas, and a bottle of Mortlach Gordon & MacPhail 58 Year Old 1954 (est. £1,000-1,300).

Also in Speyside, The Macallan is strongly represented with three expressions aged over 50 years. The Macallan Fine & Rare 53 Year Old 1949 was bottled in 2002 at 53 years old, making it one of the longest aged of all the Fine & Rare series (est. £24,000-35,000). Bottled from cask 136, only 160 bottles of this exceptionally rare whisky were produced.

The Macallan Exceptional Single Cask 2018/ASB-1683/13 1950 was aged in an American Oak Sherry Butt for almost 68 years and was bottled at a remarkable 53.4% abv (est. £30,000-40,000). Released as part of the Exceptional Single Cask series, the packaging is relatively modest in Macallan terms, with a real focus on the quality of the exceptional liquid.

The Macallan The Red Collection 78 Year Old is not only the oldest bottle released from The Macallan, but the oldest age statement whisky ever released (est. £60,000-90,000). 

Bidding on the 75-lot sale runs until 18 June.

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