China's national liquor Maotai hot on auction

Xinhua, February 28, 2011

Over one hundred bottles of bonded Maotai, China's national liquor served at official occasions and state banquets, were sold for a total of 5.22 million yuan (791,000 U.S. dollars) at a liquor auction held in Shanghai on Sunday.

The auctioned items were mostly brewed in the 1970s and 1980s and have been collected by individuals. The costliest item at Sunday's auction was a bottle of Five Star Maotai, bottled in 1955, that was listed for 1.26 million yuan. But the price was set too high to attract any bidders, said Fan Ganping, a representative of Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co., Ltd.

Maotai, brewed in a small town in southwest Guizhou Province, has been considered the country's top brand and a symbol of status for decades.

Maotai prices have been rising in recent months as the country's booming middle class cashed in for bonded Maotai as the next hot auction items after antiques and art pieces.

But Xuan Jiaxin, deputy director of the Shanghai Association of Collectors, warned investors of the considerable risks in the market amid Maotai's soaring popularity and auction prices. Xuan said signs of speculation are becoming evident and private collectors should be more cautious about entering the market.