By John Rose

Ask the expert

I want to ask you a question concerning the certification of whisky, of which you spoke in issue 70.Let's say I want to buy a bottle of expensive whisky I have seen in a specialist whisky shop, or on an internet site like eBay.How can I get a guarantee from the shop this is an authentic bottle? I normally never buy such good bottles on eBay but I am sometimes tempted.Let's turn the case around and I as the seller of an expensive bottle is asked the same question from a potential buyer,what can I do?Is there some kind of registration body I can ask about the origin and authenticity of these bottles?P.D.Decker Antwerp,Belgium Thank you for a very interesting question. There is not a body where you can get information about the origin and authenticity of collectable bottles. However if you buy from a specialist whisky shop, distillery shop, or at a specialist whisky auction, the experts they employ will give you a full guarantee of what you are buying. You will also find they would give you a money back refund on their good name if you were not satisfied.Buying on the internet such as eBay whisky auction sites are a bit different. There are fake bottles offered for sale, but collectors like the Malt Maniacs have a site you can contact where they keep information on suspect bottles and names of sellers. Also the whisky trade is much more focused on this problem and will be keen to help. You can also contact myself through Whisky Magazine as I keep records of hundreds of bottles and how they should look, ie colour of glass bottles, tops, labels, dates, number of bottles produced, etc. If we share information we will make it a lot harder for fake bottles to be sold.How do I learn about collecting whisky? Could you give me some advice, I do not have hundreds of pounds to spend so can I even think about this as a hobby?R.M.O'Donnell Peterborough, England This is a question I get asked every week, and the answer is yes you can certainly start a collection with a small budget, by buying bottles that have just been produced. The things to remember are to think about what you are buying, go for a popular name, the number of bottles produced, price, and remember in a short time when the bottles have all been sold that is when collectors seem to want them and they go up in value.I recently obtained two rare bottles of Johnnie Walker, Quest and Deco. I asked a few experts in the Netherlands, however no one could tell me anything about these bottles.I know they are rare but I want to find out the story of the bottles.Do you know these bottles and if so give me some additional information about them ?K.Meijer The Netherlands Johnnie Walker Quest and Deco were produced in the late 1990s and sold only in the Far East duty free markets.They were produced for a very short time then discontinued and therefore are extremely rare and much valued by Johnnie Walker collectors.Price at auction in Scotland for The Quest and The Deco bottles would be £150 - £200 each.Iwondered if you could help me.My late father used to love a whisky, and as he also loved to bet on horses I remember the whisky being called Grand National.Would I be correct, if so could you give me some information on this whisky, also can I still buy it?J. Lewis Cambridge, England Grand National was a blended whisky produced by Alexander Blending Company Limited 33 - 34 Alfred Place, London which was a whisky merchants, broker and exporter in the 1950s. However it stopped trading in 1981 and I can't find much about the company now so I doubt if you will still be able to buy Grand National Blend. But if any of our readers know I hope they will get in touch with me.Can you give an approximate valuation on Bowmore Fly Fishing Limited Edition, also Bowmore Glasgow Garden Festival bottle of whisky?J.Torrance Isle of Islay , Scotland The approximate price at auction of your Bowmore Fly Fishing Limited Edition bottle is £450 - £500, and your Garden Festival £100 - £120.