Chinese Buyer Told $10,500 Shot of World’s Most Expensive Scotch Was Fake

  • Zhang Wei reimbursed for phony $10,500 shot of 1878 Macallan
  • Bottle probably from early 1970s joins ranks of alcohol frauds

It should have been an 1878 Macallan single-malt whisky. It was anything but.

Zhang Wei, a 36-year-old author of fantasy novels from Beijing, paid just under 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,500) for a dram from the bottle at a hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He’s since been reimbursed in full after tests found the spirit to be a lowly blend of malt and grain whiskies. The analyses suggested a 95 percent probability that the spirit was created between 1970 and 1972.

The bottle of Macallan was bought 25 years ago.

Source: Waldhaus Am See Hotel

The 2-centiliter shot was poured from an unopened bottle labeled as a 139-year-old Macallan, which, if genuine, would have been valued around 300,000 francs. The bar at the Waldhaus Am See hotel stocks 2,500 whiskies. The hotel manager, Sandro Bernasconi, told the BBC that he had no idea the bottle was fake. His father, a previous manager at the Waldhaus, bought the bottle 25 years ago. Suspicions arose when experts noted discrepancies on the bottle’s label.

“Sadly, as soon as we saw the label, there was definitely little hope that it was going to be an authentic bottle; unless someone proves them to be positive, that’s often the case with these 1800s years,” Andy Simpson, a co-founder of brokerage Rare Whisky 101, said by phone. Simpson has collected whisky for the past 28 years, while fellow founder David Robertson was previously a master distiller at Macallan in Scotland.

A specialist analysis firm, Tatlock & Thomson Ltd., also found the whisky to be bogus. Fraud in the beverage alcohol industry has hurt several high-profile collectors and enthusiasts, including Bill Koch, who was a victim of Rudy Kurniawan’s Burgundy-focused wine counterfeiting.

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.