Man Spends $10,000 on A Glass of Rare, 140-Year-Old Scotch, Turns Out It’s Actually From The 1970s
When luxury calls, you don’t always have to answer!
Zhang Wei, a popular Chinese writer famous for his martial arts comics wanted to pamper his near and dear, so he took his grandmother on vacation to St. Moritz in Switzerland. Seeking luxury, they headed to the bar at the Hotel Waldhaus am See, renowned for its collection of rare whiskies.
Despite the 2500 bottles decorating the bar, one immediately stole their attention…
An unopened bottle of 1878 Macallan. According to the Washington Post, it’s more than a bottle of Scotch whisky, it’s a piece of history. The distillery opened in 1824 and is now one of the most well-known brands in the world.
Zhang Wei knew that this was going to cost him, but money wasn’t an issue considering he is a multi-millionaire. Plus, he felt a special affinity toward this bottle. It was “born” 139 years ago, like his great, great grandmother.
The same age as his grandmother’s grandmother.
Personally, I don’t need this many excuses to open a bottle of alcohol, even at 3pm on a Tuesday (the time as I write), but the stars were all lining up for Zhang so he ordered a couple glasses. The hotel’s manager Sandro Bernasconi was afraid that the cork might disintegrate as they removed it from the cosy gullet it had been sitting in long before the invention of the skateboard, but Mr. Zhang insisted, and facing the reality that it would probably be another 20 years before someone interested in opening this bottle would come along, Mr. Bernasconi went ahead and helped him open it.
So, how was the $10,000 glass?
For a drink that as much as a round-the-world plane ticket, it was...deceiving. Later on, Mr. Zhang described the whisky on Weibo (the Chinese social network) as having had a “good taste” but insisting that “it wasn’t just the taste, but also the history.”
Unfortunately, it was a load of bullshit, based on bullshit.
Readers of Zhang’s blog took a close look at the pictures he’d posted and pointed out some concerning differences between the bottle’s label and its cork. Something wasn’t adding up…
As soon as the hotel got wind of the possible fraud, Mr. Bernasconi hired the services of Rare Whisky 101, a highly-reputed whisky evaluator. They ran a test that proved the whisky in the bottle was actually a blend dating from 1970-1972, an entire century after Mr. Zhang had been led to believe.
A carbon analysis of the cork and label showed they had come from the same period. To recap: the bottle that Mr. Bernasconi had valued at $350,000 was actually worth...nada (in comparison, at least).
All’s well that ends well
The hotel manager felt obliged to reimburse Zhang, so he flew to China to return Zhang’s money apologize in person for the mistake. Zhang thanked him for his honesty and reassured him that his stay in Switzerland had been an enjoyable one.
Watch out for whiskies that pretend to be collectible, and watch out for those whisky-sodden bar goers: they’re as trustworthy as the guy waiting in line at the supermarket at 9am with nothing but a can of beer in his hand.