Winston Churchill and his love for ‘Ararat’ brandy

By Assadour Guzelian

October 29, 2015 was a special day for Sotheby’s Auction House. Under the auspices and with the participation of Albert, the Crown Prince of Monaco, an auction was organized on the occasion of the 50th Death Anniversary of Winston Churchill.

The main organizers of the event were Prince Albert of Monaco, the British Ambassador to Monaco and the former Prime Minister and current Ambassador of Armenia Dr. Armen Sarkissian. The entire proceeds of the auction were allocated to Prince Albert’s charities related to climatic changes.Ararat-70

Items being auctioned were the drinks, cigars and menswear of renowned brands and others objects favored by Churchill.

During the auction the main attention was focused on the statue of Churchill by the well-known sculptor Oscar Nemon and a decades old bottle of “Ararat” Armenian brandy with an interesting background history. Many years ago, this unique bottle of Armenian brandy was sold at an auction by Christy’s for more than GBP 15,000. According to the documents provided the bottle was filled from the same barrels from which for many years Stalin supplied Churchill with “Ararat” Armenian brandy.

The exclusive bottle of brandy was donated to the auction by former Prime Minister and current Ambassador of Armenia Dr. Armen Sarkissian.

Sotheby’s auction house was filled with many high class aristocrats. What happened at the auction next, surpassed everyone’s expectation; The 70 year old “Ararat” was sold for GBP 80,000, which is equal to USD 120,000!

The participants to the auction with amazement and admiration spoke about Armenia and the Armenians. Hopefully the unprecedented success of the Armenian brandy in misty Albion will help to promote the fame of “Ararat” brand.

When and where did Churchill first drink the Armenian brandy?

My wife Vivienne and I had the pleasure of enjoying the friendship of Winston Churchill’s daughter Sara for many years, starting from late 1960s. When for the first time she was invited to dinner, she noticed in our sitting room on the piano, a bottle of “Ararat” Armenian brandy. She looked at the bottle with amazement and said,

“From 1945 until his death, my father used to drink this brandy.”

Then Sara told us when and where Churchill first drank “Ararat” brandy.

During the Yalta Conference In 1945 February, after the dinner Stalin asks Churchill if he wished to have a drink?

“I like a brandy with my cigar”, answers the British Prime Minister.

The host offers Churchill “Ararat”, the best Armenian brandy.

According to Sara, Churchill “falls in love” with “Ararat” Armenian brandy and asks Stalin;

“Where can I purchase few bottles of this brandy?”

Stalin instructs the Soviet ambassador to the U.K. to present Churchill with a case (12 bottles) of “Ararat” every month.

“My father passed away, but we continued receiving every moth a case of ‘Ararat’. Many years later, someone realizes that the Embassy has been sending brandy to a “dead” Churchill for the past ten years! Unfortunately from that day on our source of the Armenian brandy dried up! By the way I used to enjoy ‘Ararat’ as much as my father”, added Sara.

And according to Sara, following dinner, the only thing left on the dining table was an empty bottle of “Ararat” brandy.


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