Old bottles of wines and spirits usually go to the trash bin or to scrap dealers in exchange for a few coins.
In London, an old bottle found to be 258 years old was sold via a Sotheby’s online auction for $144,525 or approximately PHP7 million in May 2020. It was purchased by a private collector in Asia.
The bottle was said to be containing cognac first made years before the French revolution.
According to Sotheby’s, the Grand Frère (‘big brother’ in French) is “the oldest Cognac vintage ever sold at auction”. The auctioneers claimed that it can still be consumed and should ‘taste good’.
Sotheby’s spirits specialist Jonny Fowle said in a statement, “We can assume the alcohol level in it is pretty high and that would have acted as a preservative for hundreds of years. The liquid in the bottle would have maintained its character.”
It just one of the three bottles of the rare Gautier Cognac still in existence. One is in a museum in France and the other was sold at auction in New York in 2014 for about $64,090 or PHP3.08 million.
The bottles of spirits were originally owned by the Donsir family. It came to their possession after an adopted son, Alphonse, went to look for work in Cognac in 1870—a time before the devastating Phylloxera outbreak which wiped out grape crops across Europe took place.
As the vineyards had no money following the crisis, Alphonse returned a decade later with a large number of bottles of old cognac—dating back to 1762 during the reign of King Louis XV and has been stored in a family cellar for the past 140 years—which served as payment for his work.
Maison Gautier is still producing and releasing bottles, owned by the 10th new generation of the family who founded the distillery.