On Saturday night, a rare bottle from the famous Cognac Croizet broke the world record for most expensive cognac at auction, previously held by a 1788 Vieux Cognac sold for €25,000 in Paris in 2009.
The 153-year-old Cuvée Léonie (bottled in 1858) was auctioned off at an invite-only event held at the famous Peace Hotel on the Bund. The hammer price of 1 million RMB (US$156,740) set a world record for cognac sold in its original bottle, but failed to outperform a cognac sold in 2008 for US$2 million.
However that price included not only the 100 year old liquor, but also a sickeningly expensive bottle encrusted with diamonds and gold, so the Croizet can legitimately claim to be the most expensive cognac in the world.
The bottle’s history can be traced to an 1892 wedding dowry given to the great-granddaughter of firm founder Leon Croizet. We wonder if that was an elaborate stunt to artificially raise the value of the bottle, or if Croizet’s great-granddaughter thought it was the lamest wedding gift ever (gifting something laying around the company sounds like a last minute scramble doesn’t it?), as the bottle was sealed away in the family vault since it was first gifted.
Seriously, the last thing we think of when we receive a bottle of fine liquor is “let’s put that in the vault” — unless if by “fine liquor” you mean baijiu, and by “put that in a vault”, you mean leave it on a shelf somewhere, to bust out during particularly
destructive periods of self-abuse wild weekend binges.
What are the plans for this fine liquor now that it’s finally seen the light of auction house? The winning bidder, Maggie Vong from Hong Kong, plans to save it for a “special occasion” where it is sure to become a “special hangover.”
Cognac and other fine spirits are only just recently gaining popularity in China as the nouveau riche explore all the luxuries the world has to offer. 1 million RMB for a 153-year-old fine European liquor, however, still pales in comparison to the 2.6 million RMB put up recently for a 1930’s bottle of baijiu, China’s hangover-juice of choice.
Regardless, we tip our glasses to the rise of quality spirits in China, and look forward to the day when your average ganbei involves downing silky glasses of cognac more often than fiery turpentine swigs of baijiu.