To many of us, $10,000 for one glass of Scotch is ludicrously out of our budgets. But to multimillionaire Zhang Wei, a pour from the 1878 bottle was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share a moment of history with his grandmother during their vacation to St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Unfortunately, he paid around $10,000 too much for it.
"When I came across a fine spirit from over 100 years ago, there wasn't much struggle inside," Zhang, a popular Chinese martial arts fantasy writer, wrote of the experience, according to The Washington Post. "My grandma who accompanied me on this trip was only 82, yet the alcohol was 139 years old -- same age as my grandma's grandma."
They were at the Devil's Place, a bar known for having thousands of whiskies, many of which are incredibly rare. What better time to try a 139-year-old Macallan single malt, right?
When he ordered it, manager Sandro Bernasconi pushed back, saying the cork could disintegrate.
"My father bought the bottle of Macallan 25 years ago, when he was manager of this hotel, and it had not been opened," Bernasconi told the BBC. "When Mr. Zhang asked if he could try some, we told him it wasn't for sale. When he said he really wanted to try it, I called my father who told me we could wait another 20 years for a customer like that so we should sell it."
Bernasconi and Zhang opened it together and drank some. Zhang ordered a single dram. Zhang said later on his social media page that the whisky "had a good taste," though it was more about "history" than what likely didn't taste like it had been aging for nearly a century and a half.
Shortly thereafter, experts noticed a few oddities about the cork and the label, so Bernasconi had researchers at the University of Oxford test a sample. They determined the whisky was a counterfeit blend bottled in the early 1970s.
The bar owner flew over to China and met with Zhang to break the bad news.
"When I showed him the results, he was not angry -- he thanked me very much for the hotel's honesty and said his experience in Switzerland had been good," recounted Bernasconi. " … The result has been a big shock to the system, and we are delighted to have repaid our customer in full as a gesture of goodwill."