RARE WINE and spirits remain a top target for thieves who can re-sell their contraband on the black market for staggering prices. The most recent heist happened in November in Paris and is considered to be one of the largest whisky thefts on record. A team of burglars struck at the renowned La Maison du Whisky shop, breaking through the store’s metal shutter and door then stole 69 bottles of rare whiskies valued at close to $8OO,OOO. The crime seems to have occurred in plain sight. Not only did the thieves manage to not alert nearby residents of Rue d’Anjou but the store is located directly across the street from the British Embassy, which is usually under tight security. The neighborhood is within several blocks of the Élysée Palace and is home to numerous other embassies.
But the crown jewel of the robbery wasn’t a single malt Scotch or bourbon. Instead it was a bottle of one of the rarest Japanese whiskies in the world: a 196O Karuizawa single cask bottling known as “The Squirrel” and billed as the oldest Japanese single malt ever bottled. Only 41 bottles were released in 2O13, when the whisky was bottled after being matured for 52 years in cask #5627, an ex-Sherry butt. Each of the 41 bottles has a different name, based upon the character on the unique “netsuke” that hangs from the bottle’s neck. Estimates of the stolen bottle’s value have been as high as $229,8OO in the aftermath of the break-in. However, other bottles from the same cask have gone for much less at auction. Either way, it’s likely been sold to a private collector by this point.