By John Rose

Ask the expert

Now you can find both of John Rose's superb articles about collecting whisky in one place. In collections,he looks at some of the latest bottles to come up at auction. In questions,he fields your enquiries
I would like you to explain to me why bottles of Flora & Fauna are so much more expensive when they are sold at action in their wooden boxes, ie up to £120.The Flora & Fauna series is still being produced although the bottles are sold nowwithout boxes or cartons.A Bain.Oban.Argyll. Scotland Thank you for this very interesting question. Well this is a classic example of how prices change when collectors start looking for original bottles and packaging. When the Flora & Fauna Selection was first issued in 1900 they were presented in beautiful wooden boxes inscribed with the name of the Single Malt Whisky also with the same sketch of the Flora or Fauna on the bottle label, as the bottle contained in the box. After a short time the wooden boxes were changed to cardboard presentation boxes, then in time the bottles were presented without any packaging as they are now. As the Flora & Fauna wooden boxes have become harder to find the collectors have been willing to pay much more for them. I watched an empty Flora & Fauna wooden box on an internet auction site last week sell for the staggering price of £82. When you think you can buy a new bottle for around £40 this is how collectors can influence prices when they want something.I have been wondering what happened to the old Balvenie Classic? The one in the flat bottle with the display of the coat of arms and Scottish flags.Back in the late 1980s and through the mid 1990s it was my favourite single malt.Then suddenly it disappeared. I wonder why Balvenie and William Grant Company decided to stop making such a wonderful malt?Are bottles of the Balvenie Classic still to be had and where in the USA might I obtain a bottle? What is the collectors value of a bottle of the Balvenie Classic? How, in your estimation, do the various bottlings produced by Balvenie today compare to the Balvenie Classic of old?T.Mungall,Baton Rouge, Louisiana USA The Balvenie Classic in the Armagnac shaped bottle was produced between 1984 and 1992 in three different expressions. It was bottled at 12 Years Old also at 18 Years Old at a strength of 43% Vol.The third expression was produced. with no age statement also at 43% Vol.Because The Balvenie Classic was produced for a short time and in small amounts it is very hard to find now, I think you will only be able to buy any of the three bottlings from a whisky auction or a specialist whisky retailer. A friend of mine in London sells the 18 Years Old & the no age statement bottles of Balvenie Classic at £250 and £299. The 12 Years Old is very rare and would cost considerably more.It is difficult to compare the Balvenie Classic with bottlings produced today but the Balvenie Doublewood 12 Years Old should be similar as the result of a second maturation in fresh sherry casks gives complexity and richness.I have a bottle of Johnnie Walker 'Celebrity'blended Scotch whisky boxed, in a 'Swing'shaped bottle.Are you able to tell me anything about the whisky as I am unable to find information on the internet? I look forward to hearing from you.M.Le Clercq.Paris France Johnnie Walker 'Celebrity' was the marketing name given to Johnnie Walker 'Swing' in certain markets between 1987 and 1990.It would appear you have one of these bottles, however the price for your bottle will be much the same as for the Johnnie Walker 'Swing' which is still in production, selling at £30 to £40.Could you help me, I am a collector of Old Macallan Whisky, and I would like information on a bottle I am very keen to find and purchase. It is called Nicol's Nectar do you knowanything about this bottle? Where I might find one,and how much will I have to pay for one for my collection.A. Lejman, London England I do know the bottle Nicol's Nectar. Peter Nicol worked in the whisky industry for more than 43 years and on his retirement from The Macallan Distillery on the 11th.July 1996 Peter was the guest of honour at a celebration dinner to mark this occasion.Peter and all the guests were presented with a bottle of Nicol's Nectar which contained whiskies specially selected by Peter himself.This is a bottle very difficult to find as only 120 were produced.On the odd occasion a bottle appears at auction and it will attract bids of £600 to £700.If you can buy one from a specialist whisky retailer you will have to spend considerably more. Good luck in finding this delightful bottle of Macallan.