By John Rose

Ask the expert

I have a very old (40 years plus) bottle of Hector MacDonald Glen Mist Whisky Liqueur priced at 40/- shillings, bottled by Savermo of London. The wax seal around the cork is broken but the cork is intact and never been opened. Can you advise me if it would be drinkable and would it have any value to a collector?
S Posner, London, England Glen Mist was the best-known product produced by House of Hallgarten Wines Limited, Carkers Lane, Highgate Road, London. They were wine importers who had a number of subsidiaries engaged in exporting Scotch whisky products. Glen Mist was a Scotch-whisky-based liqueur, main ingredients (whisky, honey and sugar) exported by (Savermo) Liqueur Whisky from the 1940s. It should be drinkable, as it has not been opened. A bottle with a good label and in reasonable condition would realise £140 - £180 at auction.On rare occasion, I have sampled whisky that has a pronounced chemical offnote, like a peroxide or perhaps a plasticiser. It hasn't happened often, but when it does, the chemical taste is memorable (not in a good way). The intensity of this offnote can range from merely distracting to completely undrinkable. I've noticed this off-note in single malts including a value priced 8 Years Old, a very expensive 30 Years Old, a freshly opened bottle, a nearly empty bottle, in US bars, in European pubs, there doesn't seem to be any underlying commonality.
Furthermore, when I compare my experience to published tasting reviews, no mention is made of the off-note; I assume these are product defects. To ensure it's simply not my nose/palate being overly sensitive to a trace of ester or phenol, some of my whisky friends have also independently experienced this off-note on rare occasion.
Some questions: what are the causes of such defects? How rare (or unrare) are they? It makes me a little reluctant to sample an expensive dram; just to find out that particular $1000 bottle sitting in the pub is defective and undrinkable.
In which case, what is proper etiquette in the case of a defective dram, should the bar/pub reimburse or replace with one of equal value, or caveat emptor?
P Drumheller, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA Thank you for your interesting question. This is not something I have come across myself but all the whisky companies have departments dealing with quality control. Any bottles purchased anywhere in the world from a retail shop with any complaint should be returned to the shop and they will send the bottle back to the company for analysis, also reimburse the purchaser. If in a bar a drink is purchased and you think it is not what it should be, then return it and ask for your money back.
Again, anywhere in the world this should be reported to the company. This can be done by going on the Internet and finding who the importer is of that particular product and they will report back to the Whisky Company. I hope this information will help you, you don't have to use it but distillers take strident steps to ensure their product is as perfect as it should be. During a recent visit to The Whisky Shop in Dufftown, I was advised to contact you for a valuation on the undernote whisky. It was a boxed Limited Edition of Alistair Cunningham's 50 years: a special blend of 50 malt whiskies and Dambarton grain whisky. Also included is a photocopy of a letter dated February 19th 1992, from A. M.
Dewar-Durie, Managing Director of Allied Distillers, which was handed to all employees along with the whisky. At that time I was an employee of Allied Miltonduff Distillery in Moray.
F MacDonald, Elgin, Scotland

I do know of your bottle produced for Alistait Cunningham's 50 years in the whisky business, unfortunately it has not performed that well with collectors and would realise £30 to £50 at an auction in Scotland. Recently I have started collecting whisky and have been given a bottle from my
grandfather of 10 Years old Macallan, which was matured in Sherry Wood. The label is white with gold lettering and says at the bottom 'for The Knockando Church'. Can you tell me about this bottle and what it might be worth?
McFarlane, Port Ellen, Isle of IslayYour collection is off to a good start with your gift from your grandfather. Macallan Distillery donated bottles to The Restoration Fund Of Knockando Church and they have become very collectable.
With only around 250 bottles produced they do not appear very often at auction where you would have to pay £300 to £350 for one.