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Systembolaget sells rare whisky to lucky shoppers at bargain price

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Forty-eight lucky shoppers were on Thursday able to get a bottle of Scottish whisky for less than 3,000 kronor ($334), while the same drink could be worth tens of thousands of kronor to special collectors.

Sweden's state-run alcohol monopoly Systembolaget is one of the largest buyers of alcohol drinks in the world, but the company is subject to strict regulations when it comes to setting prices for customers.

The main effect this has on the average shopper is that they won't see any discounts in the shop, where most drinks are sold at higher prices than in many other countries, but occasionally it means they have the chance to get their hands on rare bargain priced alcohol.

On Thursday, Swedish shoppers had the chance to order a bottle of a limited edition Scottish whisky at a price which would be the envy of whisky fans in most other parts of the world.

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Because only 48 bottles were available and in order to ensure whisky enthusiasts had an equal chance to get the drink, it was sold only online rather than at any of the physical stores. The bottles had a price tag of 2,895 kronor each on Systembolaget's online site, while international whisky specialist Whiskybase estimated their market value at just over £4,000 (45,000 kronor) each.

"We have a transparent pricing system and when it comes to liquor, we have a fixed markup rate of 17.5 percent plus five kronor per bottle. That's Systembolaget's margin, and then of course there's the alcohol tax. It's the same markup regardless of whether it's a bottle of (Swedish vodka) Renat or an exclusive bottle of whisky," said Lennart Agén, head of press at Systembolaget.

The whisky in question is a single cask 14 years MacAllan whisky, an employee of Systembolaget told The Local. It was rare and so there was a huge demand across the world, allowing many sellers to set high prices.

"We simply take a much smaller proportion of the price than many other (sellers)," explained Agén. "If you're a connoisseur, this is an example of the advantages of Systembolaget."

He added that he hoped those who had the chance to buy the rare beverage will take the opportunity to taste the drink, rather than simply sell it on. For this reason, purchases of the limited edition whisky were limited to one bottle per customer.

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