A $794,000 Parisian Whisky Heist


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 A $794,000 Parisian Whisky Heist

The heist took place in the early-morning hours at La Maison du Whisky in Paris.PARIS — La Maison du Whisky, the “house of whisky,” is a high-end shop on a back street. The French presidents palace and various government offices devoted to intelligence and law enforcement are nearby, and on a weekend the neighborhood is very, very quiet.

At 3:16 a.m. on Nov. 12, when it appears nobody was around but surveillance cameras were working, two people broke into the shop with relative ease to pull off a stunning heist.

In all, they reportedly took 69 bottles estimated by the French press to be worth €673,000, or $794,000. Clearly, they knew what they wanted as they stowed the loot in a couple of sports bags and took off: The big-ticket item they were after wasnt Scotch, bourbon, Irish, rye, or Canadian whisky. It was a super-rare Japanese whisky they wanted.

According to a press release from the Maison du Whisky there are only 41 bottles in the world of Karuizawa 1960, known as “The Squirrel,” which comes in a bottle with a little gold box hanging around its neck. Because of its rarity, it could be deemed priceless, but the mercenary French press calculated its value at about €195,000 ($230,000).

The Daily Beasts Tokyo correspondent, Jake Adelstein, who is something of a connoisseur, reports that the distillery was founded in 1955 in the summer resort area of Karuizawa. It produced single malts aged 12, 15, and 17 years, but the distillery closed for good in November 2011 — just before the Japanese whisky boom took off. All the stock was sold in 2012. Water from nearby mountains, and sherry barrels for aging, gave Karuizawa a distinctive taste, according to Japans Whisky Magazine.

So, to recapitulate: Burglars stole some very pricey Japanese whisky from a store in Paris, France. Viewed from outside, that may sound very globalized, but a bit strange. After all, this is a nation famous for wine, cognac, and pastis, perhaps — for its champagne tastes, if you will. Not whisky drinking.

But the truth is, many French love the stuff. The billboards in the Paris metro are plastered with ads for Four Roses and Jack Daniels. At dinner parties, single malt Scotch is not only common, its almost mandatory as an aperitif.

“Its always been a niche market,” says Tim Johnston, a Scotsman who has spent 50 years in the wine and spirits business here, but he notes there are quite a few Gauls who obsess about it.

He draws a parallel between French connoisseurs of Scotch whisky and British connoisseurs of French wines. They study it, they compare it, they revere it as something quite extraordinary in their lives because they didnt grow up with it.

By: The Daily Beast

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