The Yamazaki 50-Year-Old First Release, considered the king of Japanese whisky for its rarity, will be offered at the upcoming Bonhams Fine and Rare Wine and Whisky Sale in Hong Kong on 20 May 2022.
The rare bottle is expected to achieve as much as HK$4.5 million, according to the auction house.
In 2005 when it first hit the market, it was the oldest edition ever produced by the famed Yamazaki distillery. There were only 50 bottles from the first release, many of which ended up in local whisky bars within Japan, where bottles after bottles were opened and enjoyed over the years.
After breaking the auction record twice in 2018 and 2019, the Yamazaki 50-Year-Old First Release has now become the rarest of fine Japanese whisky, with what is believed to be no more than a dozen of them still existing in the market.
Yamazaki distillery, founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, was Japan’s first commercial whisky distillery. There is a total of three editions of 50-year-old Yamazaki. The first edition was bottled in 2005, the second in 2007 and the third in 2011.
Christopher Pong, Head of Sale at Bonhams Wine and Whisky Department, commented: “The first edition of Yamazaki 50-Year-Old is always eagerly sought after by collectors. I am expecting a lot of interest.”
The Yamazaki 50-Year-Old First Release is now the second-oldest expression by the distillery, just after the 55-Year-Old released – in 100 bottles – and set the new auction record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky at Bonhams in 2020 for HK$6,200,000.
Another bottle of Yamazaki 55-Year-Old, including a miniature 50ml sample, will be offered in the May sale as well, with an estimate of HK$4,000,000-5,000,000.
Apart from Japanese whisky, the sale also spotlights an eclectic Scotch collection from one of Asia’s leading whisky collectors – Aaron Chan.
Also the owner of the eminent Club Qing in Hong Kong which has for years served as a destination whisky bar of Asia, Aaron is now offering his personal collection of Scotch whisky in more than 220 lots. This is considered to be “the most eclectic and extensive single-owner collection of old and rare Scotch to come to the market”, says the auction house.
Speaking of Chan’s collection, Pong commented: “Bonhams’ long-standing rapport with Aaron Chan is founded on our shared vision to develop whisky collecting in Asia. After a momentous sale of Club Qing’s Hanyu Full Card Series in 2020, which set a new auction record for a collection of Japanese whisky, Aaron has now consigned with us his personal Scotch collection, offering many old bottlings from 1950s through the 60s, all in pristine condition. It is rare to have a private Asian Scotch collection to come to the global market, and this is surely one to watch out for.”
Some of the highlights will include Bowmore 1955 in Ceramic Jug, Tormore Samaroli-1966 and Laphroaig Osteria Apostoli-1970-#4367.