$10,000-a-dram whisky 'wasn't even a malt'

Chinese fantasy star fell for fake

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A Swiss Hotel bar has apologised to a Chinese fantasy novelist who paid $10,000 (£7,649) for a shot of rare whisky – only to discover the single malt was a fake.

The Devil's Place Whisky Bar at the Waldhaus Hotel in St Moritz boasts that it has the world's largest collection of malts, with 2,500 stocked in its bar and accompanying shop, which has earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records twice.

An unopened bottle marked as an 1878 Macallan was selling shots for CHF9,999, and visitor Zhang Wei, apparently China's highest-paid online author, paid the marked price for a 20ml dram back in August – an occasion marked with a heartwarming photo here.

Macallan was thrilled with the publicity at the time, tootling: "It's wonderful to see the lengths some people go to fulfil their personal passion for single malt, and The Macallan in particular."

However, those reports raised suspicions.

Carbon dating by the University of Oxford suggested there was a 95 per cent probability that it was distilled between 1970 and 1972. Bar owner Sandro Bernasconi flew to Beijing to refund the customer, according to this report.

Bernasconi's father bought the Macallan 1878 for "a five-figure sum" 25 years ago.

Further tests by alcohol analysts Tatlock and Thomson found that the purported '78 was "not even a single malt", being blended from 60 per cent malt and 40 per cent grain.

Mr Zhang has reportedly earned $100m from his work, grossing $16.8m in 2015. You can see why it was worth a trip to China to say sorry. ®


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