LONDON: A Chinese millionaire paid nearly USD 10,000 for a single shot of one of the world's oldest and most expensive whiskies which was later exposed as a fake made in the 1970s, laboratory tests have concluded.
Chinese martial arts fantasy writer Zhang Wei had splashed out USD 9,940 for the single shot of an unopened bottle labelled as an 1878 Macallan single malt in Waldhaus Am See hotel in St Moritz in Switzerland, the BBC reported.
Wei, 36, one of China's highest-earning online writers, bought the dram in July while on a holiday with his grandmother at the Swiss hotel.
But, suspicions about the authenticity of the bottle surfaced soon after the purchase, when whisky industry experts spotted discrepancies in the bottle's cork and label from newspaper articles, prompting the hotel to send a sample to specialists for analysis, it said.
Carbon dating tests carried out by researchers from the University of Oxford showed the booze to be a near-worthless blended Scotch dated no earlier than 1970 Â– a hundred years younger than it was claimed, the report added.
Further lab tests by Fife-based alcohol analysts Tatlock and Thomson indicated that it was probably a blended Scotch, comprising 60 per cent malt and 40 per cent grain - ruling it out as a single malt, the report said.
According to the specialists, the tests have shown that the bottle was "almost worthless as a collector's item".
The label was also riddled with mistakes, while the cork looked too new and the bottle was made of modern glass.
Had the bottle been genuine, it would have carried a bar-value of about USD 300,000, the report said.
Waldhaus manager Sandro Bernasconi flew to China to apologise and personally pay back the money to Wei.
"My father bought the bottle of Macallan 25 years ago, when he was the manager of this hotel, and it had not been opened. When Zhang asked if he could try some, we told him it wasn't for sale," Bernasconi said, adding that after speaking with the father "Zhang and I then opened the bottle together and drank some of it".
"The result has been a big shock to the system, and we are delighted to have repaid our customer in full as a gesture of goodwill," Bernasconi said.