A cognac from a 1762 vintage sold for £118,580 ($146,000) at an online auction on Thursday.
The “exceedingly rare” Gautier cognac is one of the oldest surviving cognacs in the world, and only three bottles of it are left, according to Sotheby’s auction house.
This bottle is the largest of the three, known as “grand frère” or “big brother,” and had remained in the same family for generations.
The “petit frère” or “little brother” was sold at an auction in New York in 2014 and the “petite soeur” or “little sister” is found in the Gautier Museum, in Cognac, southwestern France.
The winning bidder will also be treated to a bespoke experience at the Maison Gautier distillery in Aigre, France, which was founded in 1755.
The vintage cognac has a remarkable back story, as the former owner recounted to Sotheby’s.
In the 19th century his great grandparents fostered an orphan named Alphonse, who later left to work in the Cognac region.
Alphonse returned home a decade later, carrying a cart full of bottles of cognac, the Sotheby’s press release says.
It is thought that Alphonse may have returned home due to the phylloxera crisis, which destroyed the vines and threw wine-making regions into economic crisis.
Alphonse returned home with bottles, which he may have been given in lieu of wages. Among them were three Maison Gautier cognacs with their labels perfectly preserved.
Alphonse went to fight in World War I in 1914 and did not return, according to Sotheby’s, but the bottles remained in the family.
“The Gautier 1762 is renowned and revered across the world as a cognac that transcends the world of spirits collecting,” said Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s spirits specialist, in the press release.
“This bottle represents not only an example of pre-phylloxera viticulture, but also of early cask maturation from the dawn of Gautier’s production and even precedes the French Revolution.”
Other rare cognacs also command eye-watering prices.
In 2012 cellar master Pierrette Trichet from the Remy Martin distillery decided to tap a 1909 vintage, and bottles of the resulting Remy Martin Louis XIII Rare Cask 42,6 sold for around $22,000.