Saturday 29 August 2015

New world record price for Japanese Whisky at Bonhams Hong Kong Auction - 52 yo Karuizawa sells for over $900,000 HKD

Tonight we attended Bonhams Hong Kong's latest Whisky auction which, in addition to having a full set of Ichiro's Malt "Cards" series (all 54 "cards", including the incredibly rare Monochrome Joker), also featured more Karuizawa than we've seen in a single auction ever.

I went along not planning to buy anything (I did register, just in case), but more out of curiosity and to get a feel for the market. Having attended a few Spink auctions in Hong Kong, I knew that there were a lot of crazy prices being asked for whisky (in particular, Japanese whisky), but it didn't always seem those prices were being achieved. I wondered if the Japanese whisky market had hit its peak.

Well if tonight's auction was anything to go by - it most certainly had not.

Single cask Karuizawas (always a hit) consistently smashed their estimates, often going for 30-50% above their upper estimate. Hanyus and other single cask Japanese whiskies were similarly fetching far more than the higher estimates set in the catalogue. It was not uncommon to see a 30+ year old single cask 'zawa fetch $75,000 to $110,000 HKD ($13,500 to $20,000 AUD).

You almost got the sense that even the auctioneer (a consummate professional, we should add), couldn't believe his luck, but was loving it regardless. Certainly some of the audience (both online and in the room) were slightly in awe.

Is it investors looking to move their money somewhere other than the Chinese stock market? An insatiable love of whisky (we doubt it), or something else? Who knows, but it seems the popularity of Japanese whisky on the auction circuit just keeps rising and rising (for now). Even whiskies from current distilleries performed incredibly well.

The small parcel of Scotch on offer, mostly made up of Macallan but with a few interesting Bowmores, Laphroaigs and others, did reasonably well too, although as seems to be the case often in these auctions, there wasn't a lot of interest in the Glenfiddichs.

The full results can be found here, but the two lots that clearly stole the show were as follows:

You can see a video of the Karuizawa's winning bid over on our Facebook page (and give us a "Like" while you're at it).

Choo choo, or bubble bubble? Only time will tell.


PS: Whether or not buyers are buying to drink or invest, we have to commend Bonhams for their whisky selection offered to all attendees, which included a mix of Japanese, Taiwanese, Scotch, blends, malts and even some IBs. 15 whiskies were on offer and (along with the generous food) made staying through the long proceedings just that little bit better.

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