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New auction record set for a bottle of Japanese whisky

The popularity and demand for exclusive Japanese whisky appears to be COVID-proof after a new world auction record was set for a bottle of Japanese whisky last week.

At Bonhams Fine & Rare Wine and Whisky Sale in Hong Kong last Friday, a bottle of Yamazaki-55 Year, the oldest Japanese whisky in history commanded the price of HK$6.2m (AU$1.16m). It looks like Bonhams’ pre-sale estimator might need to look for a new job after estimating the bottle would sell for HK$580,000 – 780,000.

The Yamazaki-55 Year Old was matured in both Japanese Mizunara oak cask from 1960 and white oak cask from 1964, the year of the previous Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Distilled to 46 per cent ABV, the whisky has a deep reddish amber colour with “a complex agarwood and sandalwood nose, rich in fruity scents with a sweet aftertaste”. The gold-dusted bottle is housed in a black Mizunara oak box with Suruga lacquer. The bottle mouth is wrapped in handmade Echizen Washi and tied with a traditional Kyoto braided cord.

Daniel Lam, Bonhams’ Director of Wine and Whisky, Asia, said: “The stunning price sets a new milestone for the market of Japanese whisky, testament to collectors’ desire and determination to acquire the very best the market has to offer.

“We are pleased to see a keen demand for Scotch whisky in today’s sale as well.”

In terms of the ‘keen demand’ for Scotch at the auction, some notable sales included a Glenfiddich 50 Year Old which sold for AU$57,775, a Bowmore 1955 at AU$33,330 and a Macallan Lalique 55-Year-Old which commanded a cool AU$144,438.

The Yamazaki 55 Year was one of only 100 bottles which were produced and was released in June this year by Suntory, via a customer lottery system applicable only to residents from within Japan.

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