The world’s largest known collection of rare and collectable Karuizawa whisky from Japan has been sold for £770,000 in an online auction held by Whisky Auctioneer. This is believed to be a world record for an auction of Japanese whisky.
“I was given the chance to try my first Karuizawa whisky sample a few years ago, and I immediately fell in love with it,” said the buyer of the Karuizawa 1960 “The Archer”, who wishes to remain anonymous. When I saw Whisky Auctioneer’s collection of Karuizawa whiskies, including the oldest and rarest I knew straight away that I had bid for this once in a lifetime chance. I am absolutely thrilled to have secured this incredible whisky, in the knowledge that it was distilled only a few years after Karuizawa started production in 1955 and that it’s only one of 41 bottles ever produced! I’ve won an important piece of history that will take pride of place at the heart of my collection.”
A 70cl bottle of Karuizawa’s 1960 52-year-old, one of just 41 bottles originally released for £12,000 in 2013 sold for £100,100, setting a new UK and European record for a Japanese whisky.
The collection of 296 bottles, which had been built up over the last 10 years by a European collector, easily surpassed the pre-auction estimated value of around £500,000.
“I don’t think we ever expected to have this much interest in our collection of Karuizawa, regardless of its rarity and collectability! Despite being a UK-based auction, only 37 of these bottles will remain on our shores. The international profile of the winning bids truly underline the global appeal of rare whisky at the moment, with these bottles soon heading off to 19 different countries, located across four different continents..,” said Iain McClune, founder and owner of Whisky Auctioneer.
The auction has attracted worldwide attention which has translated into more than 5093 bids for the bottles, and resulting in 89 successful buyers. In terms of bottles purchased, the Unites States was by far and away the most popular destination, with 84 bottles purchased by US buyers. Germany finished in second place with 43, Hong Kong with 40, the UK with 37 and Greece with 23. Other successful buyers came from countries including Taiwan, China, Singapore, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Israel, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Ireland and Poland.
“Given the vast demand for Karuizawa whisky in recent years, we wondered whether the market might have begun cool for this iconic distillery. However, judging by the global interest and the prices paid for this most recent auction, it would appear that Japanese whisky is still at the apex of many collectors’ wish-lists. What we don’t know, of course, if whether any of these bottles will resurface on the secondary market in years to come, or whether they will be opened, enjoyed and forever lost to the collector market,” said Rare whisky expert Andy Simpson from Rare Whisky 101.
Karuizawa whisky has become one of the world’s most coveted whiskies since the distillery stopped production in 2000.The collection auctioned by Perth (Scotland) based Whisky Auctioneer covered almost every expression created by the renowned Japanese distillery. It is the first time such an extensive collection has been made available for auction anywhere in the world.
The sale has been a huge success for Perthshire firm Whisky Auctioneer which specialises in auctioning fine, old, rare and collectable whisky. In recent years, collectors have flocked towards Japanese distilleries, whose reputations and values have rocketed in the booming secondary market. According to rare whisky experts and analysts Rare Whisky 101, the RWK (Rare Whisky Karuizawa) Index, which tracks the performance of a select collection of bottles from this silent Japanese distillery, shows an increase in value of more than 300% since July 2013.
The top 10 bottles by value to be sold during the auction were bought for a combined £217,060, with 7 of these bottles purchased by buyers in Hong Kong and the other 3 heading to Germany. Below is the list of bottles sold at the auction:
Karuizawa 1960 Single Cask #5627 / The Archer £100,100.00
Karuizawa 1963 Single Cask 50-year-old #5132 £24,700.00
Karuizawa Honor Sumo Collection / 1981 / 1982 / 1983 £17,100.00
Karuizawa 1964 Single Cask 48-year-old #3603 / Wealth Solutions £17,100.00
Karuizawa 45-year-old Single Cask #1946 / Aqua of Life £12,700.00
Karuizawa 1995 Single Cask 18-year-old #5022 / Ghost Series #2 – Only 22 Bottles £10,300.00
Karuizawa 1981 Single Cask #158 / Sakura Cask – Only 45 Bottles £9,700.00
Karuizawa Four Decades Ghost Series #5 / 1 of 24 Bottles £9,260.00
Karuizawa 1970 Single Cask #6227 / Geisha Label £8,100.00
Karuizawa 1983 Single Cask #3557 / Nepal Bottling £8,000.00