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Collection of 290 Karuizawa whiskies up for sale

The “world’s largest” known collection of Karuizawa Japanese whisky – comprising 290 bottles – will go under the hammer at auction next month with an estimated value of £500,000 (US$610,000).

The collection of 290 bottles has been valued at £500,000 (US$610,000)

The collection, which has been established over the last decade by a European collector, will be available through Scotland-based Whisky Auctioneer during an online auction that will run from 5-17 April.

It is said to contain “almost every expression” created by the closed Japanese distillery and marks the “first time such an extensive collection has been made available for auction anywhere in the world”.

A bottle of Karuizawa 1960, which last went up for sale during a Hong Kong auction and fetched £96,000 (US$117,000), features in the lot. Excluding this bottling, the average price for each whisky in the collection is expected to exceed £2,000 (US$2,400).

More than 230 bottles are single casks and include rare expressions such as the 1963 50 50 Year Old and the 1964 48 Year Old bottled for Polish collector’s club Wealth Solutions.

Karuizawa is one of the most sought after and investible brands of whisky in the world. The distillery, based at the foot of Mount Asama in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, was mothballed in 2000.

Karuizawa 1960 Single Cask #5127 will be included in the lot

“A collection of this size from one of the world’s most collectable distilleries has never previously been seen at auction, so we’re absolutely thrilled to have fought off some stiff competition to lead the sale,” said Iain McClune, founder and owner of Whisky Auctioneer.

“While we’ve seen a lot of our business come from within the UK and Europe, this particular collection is likely to have global appeal. We expect to see some significant interest from rare whisky collector hotspots such as the US, Taiwan and of course, Karuizawa’s homeland of Japan.”

According to whisky brokerage, consultancy and indexing firm, Rare Whisky 101 (RW101), the value of Karuizawa has grown by more than 300% since 2013. In 2015, the value of the brand shot up 75% in nine months alone on RW101’s RWK (Rare Whisky Karuizawa) Index.

 “Over the past few years, we’ve seen the availability of Japanese whisky at auction continue to increase led by the highly sought-after Karuizawa,” said Andy Simpson, co-founder of RW101. “These low volume but high value bottles impact the market significantly with many bottles fetching in excess of £2,000, most frequently coming to market as individual bottles or small collections.

“However, in this case, with such a large collection up for grabs at the same time, it’s going to be fascinating to see exactly how much demand is out there for one of the world’s most coveted rare whiskies.”

Earlier this month, a full Geisha Series of Karuizawa whiskies went up for sale through travel retailer Le Clos, priced US$300,000.

For a comprehensive look at the story of Karuizawa, see our Brand History, here.

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