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Sotheby’s smashes Japanese whisky auction record with £1.8m sale

Sotheby’s broke the record for the most valuable collection of Japanese whisky ever sold at auction on Friday (17 November), bringing in a total of £1.8 million.

Sotheby's smashes Japanese whisky auction record with £1.8m sale

Kodawari | The Greatest Japanese Whisky Collection brought an overall total of £1,784,937 when it sold in a four-hour auction in London on Friday.

The collection was predominantly made up of single cask releases from the Karuizawa Distillery, which ceased production in 2000.

One bottle of Karuizawa 52 Year Old Cask #5627 1960 stood out as the auction’s headliner, achieving a price of £300,000. One of only 41 bottles and the oldest Karuizawa to have been released, each is uniquely identified by an individual character or katabori netsuke that was carved from the oak cask head of cask #5627.

The collection included in excess of 150 bottles of Karuizawa dating back to 1960, alongside rare whiskies from The Yamazaki, Hakushu, Yoichi and Hanyu distilleries.

Among the top lots were a trio of Karuizawa distilled in 1965 and bottled for the 60th Anniversary of Parisian whisky shop, La Maison du Whisky, and a bottle of the Karuizawa Aqua of Life 45 Year Old, released for the Taiwanese market.

James Gray, Sotheby’s whisky specialist, called the auction “undoubtedly one of my career highlights so far”.

He said: “With many of the rarest whiskies from Karuizawa, Hanyu and Yamazaki distilleries among others, it was a real honour to work on a collection of this calibre and bring yet another record-breaking collection to auction at Sotheby’s. The result far outweighs the previous record which is a testament to the quality and rarity of the Kodawari collection.”

All whiskies sold in the auction came from one private collector.

Gray added: “The Kodawari Collection was built tirelessly over many years by an extremely passionate and dedicated collector and it’s fantastic to have achieved such a fitting result for him and his bottles.  and this is undoubtedly one of my career highlights so far.”

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