Massive Private Whisky Collection Turned Into A Museum

| October 17, 2018

Collecting whisky, like so many other things in life one develops an itch for, can quickly become a quiet obsession that one focuses much of their spare time on. It is obviously a huge investment, with larger collections getting into the hundreds and thousands of bottles. It is one such collection, numbering over 3,000 bottlings, which has now been turned into a museum open to the public.

The Unseen Valentino Zagatti Collection, as it is now being called, is the focus point of a new, open only by appointment museum located in the Netherlands. This collection is the life’s work of one Valentino Zagatti. This Italian collector is said to have “lost his sight at age 12 as a result of a land mine from the Second World War. Over the past fifty years, Mr Zagatti collected more than 3,000 exclusive bottles that he purchased, examining them mainly by touch. Given his age, the now 83-year-old Zagatti decided a few years ago that it was time to dispose of the collection. As a reference to Valentino Zagatti’s visual impairment, the collection is also called The Unseen Collection.”

The Unseen Valentino Zagatti Collection

The Unseen Valentino Zagatti Collection (image via Scotch Whisky International)

The collection is now owned by Scotch Whisky International, a whisky investment group (yes, those actually do exist) that “brought together a group of twenty investors in 2015 to realize the acquisition of the Zagatti collection. Mr Valentino Zagatti required a number of conditions be met when selling his ‘life’s work’: the collection must stay together for ten years and may only be resold after five years. The intention of the former owner was simple and clear: the collection was to be housed in a museum.”

“When we were able to obtain Mr Zagatti’s collection in 2015,” said Michel Kappen, CEO of Scotch Whisky International, in a prepared statement, “the twenty investors were fully convinced of the rarity of this unique collection and the return on investment that can be achieved when the collection may be resold after 2020. By acquiring the Zagatti collection, we stayed ahead of candidates from Russia, China and Scotland, among others.”

No price was immediately given as to what Zagatti and his family were paid for this collection, but I have to assume it was quite a pretty penny. Here are some interesting factoids about this whisky hoard for your consideration:

  • The oldest bottle in the collection is presumably the oldest unopened bottle of whisky in the world, distilled in 1843 and given as a wedding present. This unique bottle gets a special place in the centre of the exhibition.
  • The youngest whisky is 3 years old and the oldest is 64 years old.
  • 97% of the collection is Scotch whisky
  • About a quarter of the collection is from three distilleries: Glenfarclas (123), Macallan (302), Glen Grant (235)
  • The collection has several bottles produced during World War II. Only three distilleries in Scotland were producing during the war: Macallan, Highland Park and Glenlivet.

As previously mentioned, this museum is open only by request, and an entry fee is required.


Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...