The international auction house Sotheby’s, in a virtual bidding session, sold one bottle of the world’s oldest surviving cognacs at a surprising record price. This bottle of Gautier Cognac 1762, which was preserved since the end of the 19th century fetched £118,580 (approximately $144,525), setting a new auction sales price record.
The press statement by Sotheby’s mentioned that only three bottles of the exceedingly rare Gautier Cognac 1762 remain to this day, having been held in the same family for generations with their original labels attached.
The other two bottles from this rare trio, called the petite soeur (little sister) is housed in the Gautier Museum and the petit frère (little brother) was sold at an auction in New York in 2014.
This bottle is the oldest Cognac to be sold at an auction and is also tagged as the big brother. It also has an interesting history, which the owner shared in a press statement.
During the 19th century, the owner’s great grandparents had fostered an orphan named Alphonse, who, between 1870 and 1880 had left his adopted family to work in the Cognac region.
Returning home a decade later, presumably due to the phylloxera crisis, which had wiped out all the economic activities linked to the production of wine and brandies at the time, he brought with him a cart loaded with bottles of Cognac.
The bottles were unloaded, most of which were soiled, but amongst them were three Maison Gautier Cognacs, with their labels in pristine condition: the little sister, the little brother and the big brother—as they are known now.
In 1914, Alphonse was sent to war and unfortunately never returned.
“The Gautier 1762 is renowned and revered across the world as a Cognac that transcends the world of spirits collecting. This bottle represents not only an example of pre-phylloxera viticulture but also of early cask maturation from the dawn of Gautier’s production and even precedes the French Revolution. This bottle contains a distillation not only of superb brandy but also of Cognac’s history,” shares Jonny Fowle, Sotheby’s Spirits specialist.