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Chinese tourist pays CHF9,999 for glass of whisky

Switzerland is known for being expensive, but CHF9,999 ($10,310) for a glass of whisky? That is what a curious – and clearly very rich – Chinese tourist paid for a glass of Macallan 1878 at the Waldhaus am See Hotel in the exclusive ski resort of St Moritz.

The hotel, which is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the world’s largest collection of whiskies (2,500), confirmed the report in Wednesday’s 20Minutes newspaper.

The man, a fan of The Macallan, a single malt Scotch whisky distillery, popped into the hotel bar last weekend with a group of Chinese and cast his eye over the 56-page whisky menu. The 47 Macallans range from CHF7 for two centilitres to the CHF9,999 for the Macallan 1878, the last unopened bottle of that vintage in the world.

“The price was set so high on purpose because we saw the bottle as a collector’s item and we didn’t actually want to open it,” hotel owner Sandro Bernasconi told 20Minutes, explaining that the rarity had in the past generated a fair bit of television coverage for the hotel.

The price tag didn’t put off the tourist, however, who ordered a glass of the whisky, which was bottled in 1905 having sat in its barrel for 27 years.

First order

It was the first time anyone had ordered a glass and the young hotelier phoned his father, who had run the hotel for a long time. Bernasconi Senior told his son he had been waiting 20 years to taste the whisky and that his son should seize the opportunity to do so.

Bernasconi Junior carefully opened the bottle – the cork had become quote soft and threatened to break – and poured a glass for his guest, who said he was surprised that such an old whisky tasted so good and like a typical Macallan.

The hotelier followed his father’s advice and had a sip. “It smells like an old cognac with notes of port; on the tongue the whisky melts and one recognises the sherry sweetness from the barrel,” he said.

What happens with the whisky now? “We hope for more guests!” Bernasconi joked.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ts