By Jonny McCormick

Ask The Expert

Send your questions to or by post to: Q&A, Whisky Magazine, St Faiths House, Mountergate, Norwich, England, NR1 1PY
I have tried to find out the value of a boxed & unopened Limited Edition bottle of old Pulteney single Malt whisky aged 21 years distilled 1983 but have had no success. The distillery has told me they do not have any and said it would be almost impossible to find a bottle. Can you give me a value for such a bottle and can you tell me how long the whisky will last in the unopened bottle? Forever, I hope, as 1983 was the year my son was born.
P. Stewart, UK by email

You have the limited edition bottle of Old Pulteney 21 Years Old from 1983 in the gold tube with the printed signature of Fred Sinclair, the Old Pulteney Distillery Manager at the time. Old Pulteney saw a little peak in the auction market after the publicity surrounding an award given to the 21 Years Old some years after this release. Consequentially, Old Pulteney has bumped up the rankings of the Whisky Magazine Index and is currently sitting inside the top 50. Inver House Distillers have been busy adding a number of different expressions to the line-up including the recent 40 Years Old. Scotch Whisky Auctions, Glasgow sold an Old Pulteney 21 Years Old 1983 for £65 not too long ago so I hope it would not be an impossible task to acquire a second bottle if you keep hunting. That way, you could open one to drink with your son if you still plan on keeping one. If you are looking for a very specific bottle, a good tip is to contact one of the whisky specialists at the larger auction houses (see telephone numbers in the forthcoming auctions section of the Whisky Magazine Index) as they can make enquiries and may know of a client willing to sell a bottle.

As for preserving the condition of your limited edition; store your bottle upright, keep it out of direct sunlight. In general, unopened whisky should remain in perfect drinking condition for generations to come.

I have been given a bottle of Teachers whisky 43% 1 Litre with a gold top that was bottled at least 20 years ago? Is there any value to this?
W. Rawson (UK)

This is a bottle of Teacher’s Scotch whisky, a blend with a dominant malt content of peaty Highland whisky from Ardmore distillery. Those who seek out old blends are usually after bottles from the 1960s or earlier so your bottle may only fetch £20-40 at auction. Memorably, Teacher’s whisky was famous for its handy jigger cap.

I have received a bottle of Macallan 50-year old which I believe is one of 500. as I have no current interest in selling, I would appreciate an indication of the approximate value for insurance purposes. 
Name withheld (email)

You are fortunate to have bottle #85 of The Macallan 50 Years Old Anniversary Malt complete with the original congratulatory letter written in 1983 by Allan G. Shiach who was Chairman and Director of Macallan-Glenlivet PLC from 1979-1996. This aged whisky came from three casks containing whisky originally distilled between 1926 and 1928 and was released at 38.6% ABV, its natural cask strength or as Shiach put it more wistfully, it has not been diluted “by anything but Time”. The value of this bottle has risen considerably over the last couple of years. Six bottles were sold through live bidding auction last year with the highest price of £17,000 being paid for Shiach’s own bottle #107 when 72 bottles from his personal collection went under the hammer in “The Chairman’s Collection” auction at McTear’s, Glasgow last October. Historically, this was the fourth highest price ever paid for a bottle of The Macallan and sales of this bottle appear more than a dozen times in the top 100 prices ever paid for single malt whisky at live bidding auction. It is worth noting that The Whisky Exchange in London has a bottle listed with a retail price of £30,000 currently.

Therefore for insurance purposes, ensure you distinguish between the replacement value as opposed to the value the bottle might achieve or have previously achieved at auction.

Figures can vary substantially and as hammer prices do not include buyer’s premiums and taxes, this would be a costly lesson to learn if it were under-insured.

As Shiach himself signs off his letter to owners of this rare bottling, “May I wish you good fortune and great happiness in whatever it is that you propose to celebrate.”