Dutchman to sell rare 250-year-old liquor collection

Whisky industry worth billions to British economy: report

Thousands of bottles of rare cognac and other drink, some dating back to the French Revolution, went up for sale Friday, with its Dutch collector expected to reap several million dollars.

Describing it as the "largest collection of old liquors in the world", a spokesman for Breda publisher Bay van der Bunt said around 5,000 bottles of cognac, whisky, armagnac and other liquors are to be sold for a total estimated price of eight million dollars (six million euros).

Van der Bunt "promised his wife he'd sell his collection when she retired at age 65 and he's making good on that promise," Bart Laming told AFP.

He said that Van der Bunt, 63, who inherited part of the collection from his father and grandfather and stored it in a cellar at his home in the southwestern Dutch city, had no children to hand it to.

The collection includes a hand-blown six-litre bottle of 1795 Brugerolle cognac believed to have been requisitioned by French revolutionary army officers.

"It is believed this bottle also accompanied Napoleon Bonaparte on his campaigns and is the only one left in the world," Laming said.

On its own, the bottle has an asking price of 138,000 euros, although Van der Bunt is hoping to negotiate a sale for most of the collection as a single lot.

Van der Bunt -- who has been adding to the collection for the last 35 years -- bought the Brugerolle at a Christie's auction in Chicago in 1990.

The collector, who ironically does not drink alcohol, also bought bottles from famous restaurants such as Maxim's in Paris and Le Cirque in New York, Laming said.

He said that several buyers have already shown interest, mainly from China and Russia.

However the oldest cognac, dating back to 1760, will not be for sale.

"That is a real heirloom. It stays with Mr Van der Bunt," he said.