A bottle of the world’s oldest single malt whiskey was sold for 250 million won ($208,524) on Sunday at Lotte Department Store’s Jamsil branch in southern Seoul.
The 80-year-old Gordon & MacPhail Generations scotch was distilled at Glenlivet Distillery in Scotland. Only 250 bottles were made, two of which were imported to Korea last September by Lotte Department Store. The first bottle was sold in December.
The whiskey will be displayed at the Jamsil store until Feb. 28 and be handed over to the new owner on March 1.
Premium wines are in high demand as well.
Two bottles of Burgundy, France’s Romanée-Conti wine, one the 2006 vintage and the other the 2013 vintage, were purchased for 91 million won ahead of the Lunar New Year Holiday at the Lotte Department Store branch in Sogong-dong, central Seoul.
All 25 bottles of the Kingsman Century Edition 1919 of Portugal’s Moscatel de Setúbal, of which only 500 bottles were released, were completely sold out, though they retailed for 3.5 million won each.
Chateau Petrus vertical collections, which include all the Bordeaux vintages from 1945 and were priced between four to six million won, took only 30 minutes to sell out.
The pandemic boosted demand for luxury alcohol in Korea. As the Covid-19 pandemic dragged on, those who used to purchase expensive bottles at duty-free shops during overseas travel had no choice but to turn to the domestic market.
The shift in drinking culture also contributed to the trend.
Due to the Covid-19 and social distancing rules, eating out became difficult. While Koreans tended to drink a lot of beer or soju at gatherings before the pandemic, the quality of alcoholic beverages has become important as people began to drink at home.
According to Lotte Department Store, sales of wine and whiskey gift packages increased by 17.3 percent ahead of the Lunar New Year, compared to the previous year. Consumers bought more expensive gifts to make up for not meeting face-to-face during the holiday.
“Demand for premium alcoholic beverages is constantly growing, especially for the rare items with scarcity value,” said Jo Yong-ook, head of the food department at Lotte Department Store.
Logistics problems that stemmed from the global supply chain crisis lifted the shipping price, which led to a limited supply of luxury bottles. Some stores are taking advantage of this scarcity.
A 700-milliliter bottle of a 15-year-old Glenfiddich single malt scotch, for example, sells for 80,000 won at a liquor store in Jung District, central Seoul, a 14 percent increase over the past two years.