Is this the oldest Scotch whisky to ever be auctioned?
Scotch whisky which is nearly 200 years old and found in a Scottish castle will be the oldest ever to go under the hammer, it is claimed.
The whisky is believed to have been distilled in 1834, and even sipped by a young Queen Victoria. It was found behind a hidden cellar door in Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland.
Normally old whiskies are around 80-90 years, such as the Macallan The Reach 81, that went under the hammer last year. But these bottles are more than double that age.
In late 2022, Bertie Troughton, resident trustee found the old bottles in an “unassuming cellar room”.
Around 40 bottles of whisky were discovered at the back of a shelf, which are believed to have been bottled in 1841 and then then rebottled in 1932.
The bottles were initially sampled by the family and a local whisky expert before the auctioneer was contacted. Research in the archives of the castle and estate, alongside carbon dating authentication by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, supports its early 19th century origin, it is claimed.
According to the radio-carbon dating, the whisky was distilled from grain grown before 1955, and provided a “high probability” it was early 19th century in origin. Further analysis was undertaken by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute in Edinburgh and estimated a 61.3% ABV.
The Queen Victoria connection comes from her friendship with the 6th Duchess of Atholl, which saw her and consort Prince Albert visit and stay at Blair Castle in 1844. During her three-week stay, the castle’s household book lists that whisky was consumed during her visit. Local newspapers reported Queen Victoria’s liking for Atholl Brose – a local drink of whisky with honey. It is claimed this is the same whisky now being auctioned.
Joe Wilson, spirits specialist at Whisky Auctioneer, said: “This is a transcendent discovery that is sure to capture not just the imagination of the whisky industry but also those well beyond.”
Angus MacRaild, an expert in old and rare whiskies and co-founder of Kythe Distillery, said it was a “profoundly historic whisky” and a “remarkable artefact of Scottish distilling” that was unlikely to “every be equalled in terms of provenance and preservation.
He said: “That it has been carefully re-bottled and preserved at natural strength, maintaining the freshness and power of this spirit for nearly two centuries is frankly, astonishing.”