For sale: $200 000 bottle of whisky

2012-03-31 18:13

Singapore - A whisky made to mark the 60th year on the throne of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II is on sale in Singapore for a mere S$250 000 ($198 500) a bottle - and it may well find a buyer.

No doubt it's a premium sip. Only 60 bottles of Diamond Jubilee were made by the Johnnie Walker unit of Diageo PLC from a blend of whiskies distilled in 1952.

It's also a premium price for Asian aficionados at the month-long Master of Spirits II event featuring speciality wine and liquor put on by luxury travel retailer DFS Group, part of the LVMH empire of high-end goods and services.

Singapore is the first stop this year for a series of DFS events highlighting a wide range of luxury offerings.

The city-state, home to the world's highest concentration of millionaires, has become a playground for the global jet-set with casinos, expensive shops, fine dining, top hotels and showrooms featuring Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other supercars.

The same package - the vintage whisky in a crystal decanter with silver trimmings, two crystal glasses and a leather-bound booklet - is priced at 100 000 pounds ($159,100) in Britain.

Asia has seen a boom in wealth and a growing appetite for luxury goods, including top-of-the-line cars, jewellery, fashion, beauty products, watches and spirits.

The rest of the 84 items on show in Singapore, worth more than $1 million, include Dom Perignon Reserve de L'Abbaye 1978, Chateau Cheval Blanc 1986 Imperial and Luzhoulaojiao National Salute from Chinese liquor maker Luzhou Laojiao.

"I want to sell them all. Our plan is really to showcase the brands, our relationships and the uniqueness of our products," Harold Brooks, president of global merchandising at DFS, told Reuters at Saturday's invitation-only opening.

"Some of them are buying them for investment, some of them are buying them because they can and some people really buy it to enjoy it."

Brooks did not directly address the question of regional pricing but said Asia is a "critical opportunity" for Hong Kong-based DFS, especially China and its brand-conscious consumers.

The gold and black invitation for Saturday's event included RSVP numbers for China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia.

Singapore is also no stranger to pricey whisky.

Last year, a Chinese businessman spent S$250 000 on a bottle of rare 62-year-old Dalmore single malt at Changi Airport during the previous Master of Spirits promotion.

Diamond Jubilee is among the dearest whiskies ever sold, although exact comparisons are difficult because of shifting auction prices and differences between blends and single malts.

Not surprisingly, free samples of Diamond Jubilee are in short supply. Not even Brooks has had a sip.

So what does that much money taste like?

"Its different facets weave around each other: velvet texture, the refreshing bitter perfume of spices, pools of soft fruits as it flows down the throat," the Whisky Advocate blog said in a February review, giving it 93 marks out of 100.

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