In July, Zhang Wei, one of China's most successful online writers, purchased a dram of of whisky for just under 10,000 Swiss francs, or £8,000. He was told the whisky was an 1878 Macallan single malt, from an unopened bottle. Turns out, it was a fake.
Wei, 36, was vacationing in Switzerland with his grandmother when he came across the bottle in the St. Moritz hotel Waldhaus Am See. He wanted to buy a pour—likely the most expensive pour of Scotch to ever be purchased, BBC reports. Hotel manager Sandro Bernasconi obliged. A few days later, Wei posted that the Macallan "had a good taste. It's not just the taste, but also history."
"When I came across a fine spirit from over 100 years ago, there wasn't much struggle inside," he wrote. "My grandma who accompanied me on this trip was only 82, yet the alcohol was 139 years old—same age as my grandma's grandma."
The post and subsequent coverage gave whisky industry people a closer look at the bottle, and caused many of them to call bullshit on its age (and value) based on the labelling and corking. The hotel sent a sample to be tested by Rare Whisky 101, who had the whisky carbon dated and analysed. Sure enough, it was an "almost worthless" bottle, and not even a single malt. Instead, it was estimated to be a blend of 60 percent malt and 40 percent grain distilled between 1970 and 1972.
It definitely was not worth all those thousands of Swiss francs.
The hotel was cool about it: Bernasconi refunded Wei in full, and Wei wasn't angry. And hey, the scotch still had 10 years on him. History is history. And just a thought, before putting any exorbitantly expensive (or very, very old) food item through your digestive system, it's probably best to know all the facts.
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