SOME KIND OF SALUTE TO CHINA: WHISKEY FOR $2,700 A BOTTLE?
Stocking up to ring in the (Western) New Year in China presents some daunting options this season. Drip by drip, China is home to an increasingly vertiginous range of beverages intended, we are told, to express its deepest national instincts. Are hosts now obligated to offer guests China’s own special brand of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, which sells for a cool forty-four dollars a bottle (instead of the thin variety that goes for pennies a can in the U.S.)? Or, perhaps, you’d be more comfortable with a glass of 62 Gun Salute, the new Scotch whiskey blend designed just for China, at a price of more than two thousand seven hundred dollars a bottle. The stuff is said to be made from whiskeys aged for a “minimum” of forty years, by Royal Salute, a company that dedicates itself to paying “homage to leadership and accomplishment in all walks of life.” Your two thousand seven hundred dollars—more than four months’ salary for the average Chinese consumer—doesn’t just buy taste; 62 Gun Salute also delivers “a hand-crafted decanter made by Dartington Crystal [with a] Royal Salute crest painted in liquid 24-carat gold, along with a 24-carat gold plated collar and a crystal stopper set with a 24-carat gold plated crown,” asReuters puts it.
Though this venture might sound like nothing but a cynical one-finger salute to the Chinese tycoon class, it’s hard to argue with the fact that China’s imports of Scotch whiskey have grown by eighty times in the last decade—yes, eighty—and the Scotch Whisky Association estimates that exports to China could double again over the next five years.
A final note: As you fill your shopping cart with 62 Gun Salute, watch out for fake wine: six people in the inland Chinese province of Hebei have been detained, and five wineries have been shut down, for forging labels of well-known Chinese brands and for churning out a vintage of pseudo vino that contained only water and chemicals. The chemicals, according to one Chinese expert quoted in the FT, can cause “headaches and irregularities in the rhythm of the heart as well as cancer.” Salute!