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Record-Breaking Japanese Whisky Leads Sotheby's 'Finest & Rarest' Auctions in London

Sotheby’s Sells the Most Valuable Bottle of Japanese Whisky

A Bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old Cask #5627 Zodiac Rat 1960 Achieves £363,000 / $435,273

Strong Demand for Bordeaux and Burgundy Two Cases of the Legendary Cheval Blanc 1947 Bring Combined Total of Almost £500,000

“Against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstance, the persistence and commitment of collectors came through in yesterday’s sales, where a bottle of Japanese whisky became the most valuable ever sold, accompanied by strong prices for Scotch whisky, led by the Macallan in Lalique Decanters. Collectors also continue to compete for the world’s greatest wines, and when there is an opportunity to acquire the very best the market has to offer, as with the two cases of the legendary Cheval Blanc 1947, they are willing to stretch to the highest level.”
Jamie Ritchie, Chairman, Sotheby’s Wine

LONDON, 19 March 2020 – Yesterday’s sales of Finest & Rarest Wines and Spirits at Sotheby’s in London brought a combined total of £3.7 million / $4.4 million (est. £2.8 – 3.8 million / $3.3 – 4.5 million). A substantial proportion of lots achieved prices above their high estimates, and in a category where online bidding is traditionally strong, over 50% of the buyers placed their winning bids online.

A new auction record was achieved for a bottle of Japanese whisky, with a bottle of ‘Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960’, sold for £363,000 / $435,273 to an Asian private collector, and far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £160,000-220,000. The oldest Karuizawa to have been released, this iconic bottle is one of only 41 that were produced, each uniquely identified by an individual netsuke carved from the oak cask head of cask #5627.

Finest & Rarest Spirits totalled £1,401,122 / $1,680,085 (est. £1 – 1.45 million / $1.2 – 1.7 million)
45% of lots sold achieved prices above the high estimate
Finest & Rarest Wines realised £2,264,018 / $2,714,784 (est. £1.8 – 2.3 million / $2.1 – 2.8 million)
51% of lots sold achieved prices above the high estimate

The auctions were led, respectively, by two landmarks in the world of whisky, and one of the most legendary Bordeaux:
The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, rarely seen in an unbroken vertical, sold for £423,500 / $507,819 (est. £320,000-480,000)
A decanter containing the oldest whisky ever to be released from The Macallan Distillery – The Macallan Lalique Genesis Decanter 72 Year Old – brought £84,700 / $101,564 (est. £70,000-100,000)
A bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960 became the most valuable bottle of Japanese whisky ever sold, achieving £363,000 / $435,273
Two cases of Cheval Blanc 1947 – considered the greatest Cheval Blanc of the 20th century – each made £242,000 / $290,182 (12 bottles, est. £140,000-190,000) and £229,900 / $275,673 (11 bottles, est. £130,000-170,000)

Participants hailed from 21 countries, from across Asia, Europe and North America

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  • Lot 87 Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960
    Lot 87 Karuizawa 52 Year Old Zodiac Rat Cask #5627 1960
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Lots 267-268 Cheval Blanc 1947
    Lots 267-268 Cheval Blanc 1947
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus