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
I have been left two bottles of whisky which have been in a cupboard for more than 13 years. Can you tell me how old they are? Are they worth anything or should I drink them as I am partial to a drop of whisky every now and then?
Steven, UK by email

The Glendronach 12 Years Old 70 proof in its gold box dates from the 1970s and it is certainly something to consider putting to auction. This was bottled by William Teacher & Sons Ltd of Glasgow who acquired the Glendronach Distillery in 1960. The independent company became part of Allied Breweries Ltd in 1976. McTear's, Glasgow have auctioned a couple of these recently with prices reaching£80-85 whereas Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow achieved
£145 in March with an unboxed example. The other bottle is a Whyte & MacKay 21 Years Old blended whisky from a similar era with a box in its original red carton. It will be fine to drink, but there have been some recent examples at auction where it has made £30-60.

I am wondering about the value of a 1913 bottle of Babbling Brook whiskey from the Prohibition era? I recently found it in the wall of my house built in 1920.
M. Roedel by email

This one pint bottle of Babbling Brook Whiskey Over 12 Years Old was distilled at John E. Beggs Distillery, and was bottled for medicinal use under the supervision of F.S. Ashbrook Distillery, Cynthiana KY. The front label is in great condition but the rear label is badly torn where a second label has been applied then removed. The rear label would have originally contained a caution notice, pertinent to the laws of the time, which read, “This bottle has been filled and stamped under the provisions of the act of Congress approved March 3 1897 entitled ‘An Act to allow the bottling of distilled spirits in bond’. Any person who shall reuse this bottle for the purpose of containing distilled spirits without removing and destroying the stamp affixed to this bottle, will be liable for each such offense to a fine of not less than one hundred, nor more than one thousand dollars, and to imprisonment for not more than two years.” Old Bourbons vary greatly in price depending on the condition, the contents and the provenance of the bottle. Commonly, the seals on these bottles are poor and the contents suffer from evaporation. Typical prices can be a few hundred dollars but a bottle of American Whiskey circa 1890 sold for £4000, high above the upper estimate, at Mulberry Bank Auctions, Glasgow recently.

I’m looking for a valuation on a bottle of whiskey on behalf of my grandfather. Whyte & Mackay suggested asking you at Whisky Magazine.
C. Jackson by email

I'm afraid that this bottling of First Choice Blended Whisky bottled by Whyte & MacKay to commemorate the raising of the regiment is usually not terribly valuable at auction. Its main value would be to someone connected with the regiment. One of these bottles sold at McTear’s, Glasgow about a year ago as part of a three bottle lot which sold for £40.

I recently bought a bottle of Gordon & MacPhail cask strength from the Benriach distillery dated 1982. I’ve been collecting whisky for about a year now and enjoy finding out about the history that goes with them but this one has stumped me. Please help!
J. Jackson by email

Gordon & MacPhail have probably the largest inventory of whiskies of any independent bottler and there have been a number of incarnations of the Cask Strength label. This Benriach 1982 62.9% G&M release is bottled at a capacity of 75cl and comes from an earlier series of bottlings dating from the late 1980s or early 1990s. This older bottling has no UK Tax Stamp, no bottling date or cask information though the liquid looks like it probably came from a sherry cask. Benriach regularly comes to auction in small volumes and offers good value at the moment. The distillery sits in the WMI ranking somewhere between positions 75-100 and many bottles are sold for £20-40 with higher prices usually reserved for whisky distilled in the 1960s. The most recent sale from this series was at Bonhams, Edinburgh in June 2012. Lot 234 contained a bottle of Benriach 1980 G&M Cask Strength and a G&M Connoisseur’s Choice bottle of Clynelish distilled 1984. The lot sold for a hammer price of £60. I would enjoy it as it is or acquire some of the official Benriachs and open them side by side.