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1788 Cognac bottle PicmonkeyVieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine ‘Clos de Griffier’ Café Anglais 1788 PHOTO © 2012 Christies

The oldest cognacs from the cellars of the Parisian restaurant La Tour d’Argent, on auction at Christies in London, were snatched away in the blink of an eye by Dutch collector Bay van der Bunt in December.

In spite of his recent announcement to sell his world’s largest collection of Old Liquors, the experienced bidder was quick to raise his paddle and call for ‘all lots’ when the 6 bottles of the prized pre-Revolutionary Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne Fine ‘Clos de Griffier’ Café Anglais 1788 appeared in the saleroom.

Earlier this year a customer at London’s Playboy Club accidentally smashed a £50,000 identical bottle of this cognac, which was destined for a record-breaking cocktail by cocktail Maestro Salvatore Calabrese.

Other venerable lots where the Christie’s auctioneer brought down the gavel in Bay’s favor included two Jeroboams (2.5L) Grande Fine Champagne Cognac ‘La Tour d’Argent’ 1805. This extremely rare format was bottled on site more than 200 years ago. The bottles were hammered of for £23,000 each.

Bay van der Bunt Liquor Collector Pix Picmonkey Bay van der Bunt (64) owner/ collector of World’s largest Old Liquors collectionPHOTO © Old Liquors - Sophie Mutevelian

“Although I promised my wife Ria I would sell my collection, to add the last remaining bottles from the year 1788 to my collection was an opportunity I could not let pass by”, according to Bay. All bottles can be viewed at www.oldliquors.com, where Bay shares his passion with the world.

The bottles where kept for over 200 years in the dark cellars of the famous French eatery and survived World War I and II. During World War II the owner Claude Terrail saved the wine cellar from being purged by the occupying Germans by walling up the enormous cellar that contained a majority of its prized rare vintages.

Claude’s son André Terrail has gone to auction with one hundred and eighty lots of ancient armagnac, rum, calvados, port and marc as well as the historic cognacs, all from the cellars of his Parisian restaurant’s extraordinary cellar.

This is not the first time La Tour d’Argent’s owner André Terrail has gone to auction with the contents of his restaurant’s drinks paradise. In 2009, he sold 18,000 bottles for more than €1.5m in order to finance the purchase of newer vintages.

 

Editor's note: European sources contributed to this TASTE News Service report.