cotlands most expensivesporting estatehas been bought by a Russian vodka billionaire after it was put on the market with an asking price of more than 25 million.

The new owner of Tulchan Estate on Speyside, which boasts some of the best salmon fishing in Europe, is Yuri Schefler, who according to Forbes magazine is worth 1.34 billion.

Mr Schefler, a regular guest at the famous estate who is said to divide his time between the UK and Switzerland, owns SPI Group, which produces and sells alcohol under 380 brands in 160 countries, including Stolichnaya vodka.

His new 21,000-acred property was described by the selling agents Savills as the ultimate utopia for the passionate sportsman when it was put on the market last year.

It has eight miles of double bank salmon fishing on the River Spey as well as exceptional stalking and shooting, including two grouse moors. The asking price is thought to be the highest seen on the open market for a whole Scottish sporting estate.

The average price of an estate is under 5 million, although Kinpurnie estate on Tayside was sold in separate lots with a total ticket price of 29 million.

Tulchan lies on the edge of Cairngorm National Park, 40 miles south of Inverness, in an area famed for its whisky distilling and sporting pursuits.

Famous guests of the lodge include King Edward V11, King George V, King George V1, ex-president Theodore Roosevelt, the railway financier William Vanderbilt and King Leopold of Belgium.

The property also has snipe and woodcock shooting, five let farms, and produces its own beef and lamb from a commercial herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

Formerly owned by Scottish aristocracy and later a London-based financial institution, it was bought in 1993 by the Midlands businessman Leon Litchfield and his wife Gillian, who set up Tulchan Sporting Estates Ltd.

A spokesman for Savills said: The company has been bought by a company for the principal benefit of Mr Yuri Schefler of Russia, who is well known to the estate having been a regular visitor in the past.

It is understood that the new owner of TSEL will continue to operate the estate as a business along similar lines as the Litchfield family and plans to make additional investment and innovation in the business.

This was an important factor to the sellers, as the estate makes a valuable contribution to the local economy employing 20 full time and a further 20 seasonal staff.

Mr Shefler is understood to have left the Russian army in September 1987 before starting a business career which has included running one of Moscow`s leading shopping malls and heading Vnukovo Airlines.

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