1926 Macallan Scotch
Brendan Mcdermid  /  Reuters file
It's not rotgut: This bottle of Macallan Scotch distilled in 1926 sold for a whopping $54,000 at auction last week.
By Brian Tracey Associate editor
msnbc.com
updated 12/14/2007 7:24:22 AM ET 2007-12-14T12:24:22
COMMENTARY

If Santa gives you this gift for Christmas, you've really been exceptionally good this year: A bottle of 81-year-old Scotch sold for $54,000 earlier this month at New York's first liquor auction since Prohibition.

It became the most expensive bottle of Scotch whisky ever sold by the auction house, said Christie's, which has been holding similar sales in Europe for a decade.

Bought by a private New York investor, the Macallan was bottled in 1986 after spending 60 years in a wooden barrel. It had originally been expected to sell from between $20,000 and $30,000.

The $54,000 adult beverage was distilled at Macallan in Scotland in 1926, bottled in 1986 and rebottled in 2002.

The United States outlawed the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages during Prohibition, which ran from 1920 through 1933. But New York state did not pass laws authorizing wine auctions until 1994, and spirit auctions until August of this year, said Frank Coleman, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council.

Richard Brierley, head of wine and spirits sales for Christie's America, was asked at an earlier press briefing if anyone would actually drink such a Scotch.

"Absolutely. Something like this is bullet-proof," he said. "Unlike fine wines, which after being opened are really something that should be consumed that night. These whiskeys can be enjoyed for years. You can open it up, have some, close the bottle and enjoy it again at your leisure. It's not going to spoil."

That's good, as this Scotch has to be ultimate sipping whiskey.

Hokey holiday inn stunt
A major British hotel chain is getting into the Christmas spirit by with a promotion that gives a free night's stay to couples named Mary and Joseph, the Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph  reported this week.

But the report said while Travelodge announced its holiday offer for all U.K. and Irish hotels, the chain's Belfast office told the newspaper it would not be participating because the gimmick caused too much controversy in the province when first launched three years ago.

A spokeswoman for the Travelodge in Belfast said the promotion would not be running in Ireland because it "upset a lot of people" back in 2004.

According to the spokeswoman the offer was "definitely not running in Northern Ireland" because the company received a lot of complaints from the public and the Catholic Church who were offended by the stunt.

However, the company's British corporate office insisted the promotion was available at any one of its 322 hotels, including those in Ireland.

It said that the "gift" of a free night's accommodation was to make up for the fact that the hotel industry had no accommodations for Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago when they had to stay in a stable.

In order to make sure couples are authentic, those planning on taking Travelodge up on the offer need to register their details on the company's Web site by December 17 and send in proof of ID.

The marketing ploy also includes a free parking spot for the "donkey."

No word if Mary has to be in the family way, or if free swaddling clothes are included.

Merry bathroom business
Here's another hackneyed holiday business idea: A Christmas-themed toilet paper emblazoned with images of stars and reindeer is rubbing Polish shoppers the wrong way, the New York Post reported this week.

The festive toilet paper on sale in Lublin, Poland, by pharmacy chain Rossman has been branded "repulsive and base" by a local Catholic youth organization.

"You use Christmas cards for sending greetings, and you use toilet roll for your backside,"  shopper Mieczyslaw Kasper was reported as saying, after signing the group's petition in protest.

A spokesman for the Polish branch of the company that distributes the festive toilet roll admitted he had heard about protests in Lublin.

He said: "We had no influence over what was printed on it by the international managers of our company. We only sell it."

Maybe they can boost sales by putting in the same aisle with the fruitcakes.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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