Sotheby’s has sold one of the world’s oldest cognacs preserved since the end of 19th Century for a record breaking amount in an online auction.
The bottle of Gautier Cognac 1762 went under the hammer for approximately HK$1,132,789 (£118,580), which set a new auction record following the online sale. Sotheby’s said in a statement that “only three bottles of this exceedingly rare Cognac remain to this day, having been held in the same family for generations with their original labels attached”.
Known as Grand Frère (Big Brother in French) of the spirit trio, the extremely rare cognac was bought by an Asian private collector who will also receive a bespoke distillery experience at Maison Gautier, an element included in the price. Sotheby’s spirits specialist Jonny Fowle told The Times newspaper in London that the cognac “should still be drinkable”. He added that “High-ABV (alcohol by volume) liquids like this preserve themselves very well, although I would expect there to be discernible OBE — this stands for old bottle effect, which is how we describe the development of spirits over time… Sometimes this can impart very pleasant tropical notes, and at other times less appealing porridgy notes.”
The sellers of the cognac, who wish to remain anonymous, revealed that the bottle had been given to their great grandparents by an orphan they fostered called Alphonse. He had left his adopted family in the 1870s to work in the Cognac region, and returned to them a decade later with a cart full of bottles of Cognac. According to Sotheby’s, most of the bottles were soiled, but amongst them were the three Maison Gautier Cognacs with labels that were in pristine condition. Thereafter, it was noted that Alphonse fought in World War I in 1914, but sadly, never returned.
Meanwhile, the cognac’s siblings are elsewhere: the little sister is housed in the museum of the French cognac distillery Maison Gautier, and the little brother was sold at auction in New York in 2014.