By Jonny McCormick

Ask the Expert

Send your questions to or by post to: Q&A, Whisky Magazine, 6 Woolgate Court, St Benedicts Street, Norwich, England, NR2 4AP
A friend has this interesting bottle of Burke’s Whiskey by E&J Burke, Dublin he got through a family member, from the Canadian prairies. Could you shed any light on this item regarding its age and the original contents?
S. Tse by email

This decanter would have contained blended whiskey (mostly but not necessarily all of it distilled in Ireland) and it was filled by a Dublin firm of blenders, bottlers and exporters registered under the name of Edward & John Burke. The company was founded in 1849 by the nephews of the second Arthur Guinness and became a limited company in 1890. In the late 19th century, it was recorded as being the largest customer of Highland Park outside of Scotland. Companies like E&J Burke Limited would buy pot still and patent or grain whiskey from distillers and then produce their blends within their own bonded warehouses. This was commonplace in Ireland with smaller scale operations including publicans buying casks to make their own proprietary brands looking to satisfy customers’ tastes by aiming for a consistent flavour. Blends began to seriously challenge Irish pot still whiskey in the final decades of the 19th century and they were to dominate the market over pure pot still whiskey from then on (even if we’re enjoying a current resurgence in Irish pot still whiskey at present). E&J Burke’s export business relocated from Dublin to Liverpool in the early 1920s and whisky was bottled there. Certainly, examples of moulded waisted glass decanters exist from the early 20th century. Hopefully, if you take it to an auction house with a reputation for antique glassware and tableware, it may be able to assist you with a valuation.

I have a bottle of Canadian Club 1979 IMPORTED which I feel might be of interest. I am neither a collector nor a drinker of whisky.
J. Rennie by email

Unfortunately the secondary market for Canadian whiskies is in its infancy and your bottle will not hold a huge value. The interest lies with special editions and discontinued ultra-premium Canadian whiskies. My advice would be to gift it to someone who will appreciate it.

Could you please give me a price for some of my collection? I have a bottle of The Macallan Private Eye plus the miniature, Glenury Royal 61.3%, Inchgower 55.7%, Teaninich 64.95%, Aultmore 16 Years Old, Glenesk Maltings 25th Celebratory Whisky and Dufftown-Glenlivet 20 Years Old Centenary bottling 1896 -1996 55%.
C. Gammack by email

The Macallan Private Eye is currently trading for £650-750 with lots including the miniature much more likely to achieve the upper end of that estimate. This is a dependable collectible which has increased in value by around 20 per cent in the last two years. The label is illustrated by the British born artist Ralph Steadman whose work appeared in Private Eye from the 1960s and if you have not read it, I can recommend tracking down a copy of Ralph Steadman’s 1994 book Still Life with Bottle: Whisky according to Ralph Steadman.

The addition of a miniature recognises the desire for the collector to taste their whisky without breaking the seal on the large bottle, but absurdly the need to have a set in mint condition including the miniature becomes even more desirable for the collector. In addition to Signatory Silent Stills, there are other good examples of collectible whiskies packaged with a miniature including Ardbeg 1965, The Last Drop 1960 to The Macallan Easter Elchies.

The Glenury Royal Rare 23 Year Old 1971 Malts Selection came from one of the first wave of the series in the mid-nineties and a bottle sold for £260 at Mulberry Bank Auctions in June 2012. A paired lot of your Inchgower 22 Years Old Rare Malts Selection 55.7% and Teaninich 23 Years Old 1972 Rare Malts Selection 64.95% sold for £240 at McTear’s in July 2011 and would attract similar prices this year. The Aultmore 16 Years Old Centenary bottle (1897 –1997) bottle appears at auction once or twice each year and a bottle fetched £400 at Bonham’s, Edinburgh last December. Keep your eye on their next sale at the end of August for another bottle which has been given a guide price of£500-700 and in the same sale, there is a bottle of Glenesk Maltings 25th anniversary distilled in 1969 and bottled in May 1993 which has been valued at £400-600. The Dufftown-Glenlivet Centenary bottle came up at Bonhams, Edinburgh in March in a two bottle lot paired with a bottle of Blair Athol Centenary 18 Years Old and they achieved a hammer price of £280. Before you’ve spent your winnings in your head, remember transaction costs vary between a bit auction houses so discuss your valuation with more than one establishment.