If you missed it a bottle of Yamazaki 50 Year Old Single Malt Whisky sold for a record price at Auction on January 30 for US$299,000. The auction was held by Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The previous record for a single bottle of Japanese whisky was also held by a bottle of Yamazaki 50YO sold at auction in October 2016 for US$129,000. After having followed the whisky auction scene for a while I can safely say it if you want absolute top dollar, Hong Kong is the place to sell. It is certainly bolstered by the burgeoning Asian whisky scene. The problem I found however was that when I approached a certain auction house in HK to sell some of my whisky they did not accept consignments from outside of HK. The whisky had to already be in country. Not sure if this is the same for all the auction houses in HK.
When first released in 2011 the bottle price was around US$9,200 which although it looks like a bargain now, lets face it, this was a bottle for the wealthy from the get go.
There were a couple of bars in Japan back in 2011 where you could try this for Yen 90,000 a shot or about US$850.
For years now a number of people on various whisky forums have speculated about the demise of Japanese Whisky. Just a fad, too overpriced(maybe it is but it hasn’t diminished it’s rise) and for a number of narrow minded people if it isn’t made in Scotland it can’t be whisky or at least not good whisky.
Japanese whisky has proved to be resilient on the pricing front and it’s popularity has gone from strength to strength.
*Note: We may have seen some marginal average price drops on bottling’s from the likes of Hanyu and Karuizawa over the last year but this is normal when the number of different bottling’s have increased. Prices of the most prized bottling’s are still on the up.
Offered for sale for the first time is a full set of 58 bottles of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series as part of Sotheby’s Hong Kong Finest and Rarest Wine Auction this Friday and Saturday 29-30th of September.
For those who are trying to figure out how a deck of cards is 58 it’s not. Just so happens that back in the day Ichiro Akuto bottled and sold a about a quarter of the whisky from 4 different single casks then later bottled and sold the rest of the whisky from these casks. The casks used became the Ace of Spades, the Queen of Hearts, the King of Diamonds and the Jack of Clubs hence double bottling’s of these cards and the total number in the series as 58.
Price guide for the full set of Ichiro’s Malt Card Series is from a ridiculously low US$256,000 to US$512,000.
As a set of 54 cards without the 4 doubles sold at auction a couple of years ago for US480,000 I personally expect the upper range of the price guide to not only be reached but exceeded.
So if your a wealthy whisky collector here is a rare opportunity, for the rest of us we have a few days to win the lottery.
**Update: Lot sold for US$455,000 so it seems prices have stabilized or even declined a little.
Tonight at Bonham’s Auction Hong Kong a world record price was achieved for a single bottle of Japanese whisky. The bottling, a Karuizawa 1960 52YO Cask #5627 one of 41 bottles. Price with buyers premium was approximately US118,000, Euro105,000, GBP77,000. Original Price was GBP12,500 back in 2013. Also as reported in a recent post, an almost complete collection of Ichiro’s Card series was up for sale. This lot sold with buyers premium for approximately USD490,000, Euro436,000, GBP319,000. Obviously this is also a record for a single combined lot of Japanese whisky. I reckon that they would have cost no more than around USD10,000 if you were lucky to buy them all at retail prices. Share markets in turmoil…… seems at least for now we have a new ‘investment’ winner, or like gold, a bulwark during hard economic times?
Well the catalogue is out for Bonham’s Hong Kong auction on August the 28th 2015. Masses of Japanese whisky on offer but the highlight would have to be an entire Ichiro’s Malt Card Series being sold as one lot. I say entire but to my mind the collection is not complete. There were 2 bottling’s of the Ace of Spades and this collection has only one of them. Yes they were from the same cask but the release was staggered, one bottling being 55%abv and one being 55.7%abv. Obviously this also means one spent a little longer in the cask so is a bit older in whisky terms and as it was aged in oak the profile will be slightly different. Also I believe the auction catalogue for the bottling of the Ace of Spades being sold contains an error. They say it is the bottling 113 of 300 but this should have an ABV of 55.7% not the 55% listed in the catalogue. The first series of 122 bottles(in total) was the 55% version.
The catalogue estimate, HK$ 1.8 million – 2.4 million = USD$232,000 – $310,000
Gulp, not to shabby for a collection of whiskies that if you paid retail would not have cost more than USD10,000 in total. The cheapest bottling was about 60 bucks and I paid about 350 bucks for the most expensive, the Joker Monochrome. Also hard to believe is that this upswing in value happened in less than 10 years.
***Note: I have already been updated and I apologize for any discrepancies in my original post but the are 4 double cards in the series. Ultimately this extends to the fact that the series for sale is not complete. Thanks to Ulf Buxrud for the clarification.
Ichiro’s Malt Full Card Series