The Golden Promise: Earliest Karuizawa Whiskies at Bonhams

By Christina Tsangaris

Bonhams Fine and Rare Wine and Whisky sale in Hong Kong on Friday 19 November shines a spotlight on Karuizawa, the cult Japanese distillery which closed in 2001 and demolished in 2016, and which recently announced, to great excitement, the release of their final barrel.

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas

The sale offers more than 20 prime examples of Karuizawa, some dating back to the earliest and rarest 1960s, considered the “hay day” of the distillery when – much influenced by Macallan – they took pride in using the ‘Golden Promise’ barley as an ingredient. Highlights include:

Bonhams Director of Wine and Spirits for Asia, Daniel Lam, said: “In a strong sale the exceptional choice of rare Karuizawa whiskies stands out. 1960s vintages of Karuizawa are so rare now, that it will probably take many years to assemble a selection of this calibre in the market again. I am therefore expecting a lot of interest from collectors. In the Fine wines section we are offering fascinating Burgundies which seldom appear at auction. I am sure these will whet the appetite of connoisseurs in Hong Kong and beyond.”

The Port Ellen Distillery on the Isle of Islay ceased production in 1983 but reopened two years ago, an event that created much interest. The sale also includes a bottle of Port Ellen-Sunflower-1969-24 year old  bottled in 1993 by Carato of Italy, as well as a bottle of Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji – The Great Wave.

By Christina Tsangaris