By Jonny McCormick

Ask the Expert

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I have an unopened bottle of Haig's Gold Label 70 proof with a springcap and a Royal Crest stating "By appointment to the late King George VI" on the front. What looks like the letters "HGL" are interwoven on the top of the cap foil. Do you have any suggestion on the year and value please?
P. Hughes, UK

This is a well preserved example of a 1950s bottling of Haig Gold Label Blended Scotch Whisky. The paper of the label has a little toning, some tiny nicks and patches of foxing affecting part of the front label but given its age, this is a fine example. The embossed interwoven letters on the cap actually say "JH Co L" standing for John Haig & Co Ltd. The diamond shaped rear label states "Good Whisky should be old and thoroughly matured in wood. This is guaranteed by the undersigned, who are the Oldest Distillers of Scotch Whisky in the World. Whisky has been a study with us, not only for a lifetime, but for generation upon generation." John Haig was born in 1802 in the village of Kincaple, near Guardbridge in Fife and studied at St Andrews University. He established Cameronbridge distillery in 1824 on land leased from local landowner Captain Wemyss and he was an early adopter of Robert Stein's Patent Still (1826) for the production of grain whisky.

He married Rachel Veitch in 1839 and they went on to have eleven children. By the end of his life over 50 years later, the distillery housed bonded warehouses capable of storing millions of gallons of whisky and covered 14 acres. Cameronbridge distillery was one of the major assets when the Distillers Co. Ltd formed in 1877 and John Haig became a Director. The blending side of the business was relocated to Markinch, although Haig himself passed away in 1878. Douglas Haig, one of John Haig's sons, is better known as Field Marshal Earl Haig who most notably oversaw the heavy losses at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. John Haig & Company Ltd were taken over by the Distillers Company Ltd in 1919, but Field Marshal Earl Haig returned as a Director in 1924 and served four years until his death aged 66. The red brick former headquarters of John Haig & Co Ltd remain standing in Markinch and Haig Gold Label is still sold to this day. A bottling from the same era but in significantly poorer condition was sold at Mulberry Bank Auctions, Glasgow in March for £75 but your bottle's condition should earn a little more.


A member of our Queensland Malt Whisky Society returned from Scotland with a bottle of Macallan. It commemorates the opening of the new lounge of the Seaforth Club in Elgin. The top left of the front label indicates that the whisky was distilled in 1946.
S. Mansfield, Queensland Malt Whisky Society, Australia

This Seaforth Club, Elgin bottling of The Macallan was bottled to commemorate the opening of their new lounge on 3rd July 1987. The label also shows the date 1946 and 1987 either side of the Seaforth Club logo and it was bottled at 40% but there is nothing to suggest that it is from a single cask. I'm more inclined to say that those dates relate to the Seaforth Club than the age of the whisky and this will more likely be a Macallan 10 Years Old than a 41 Years Old. I have made enquiries with David Cox, Director of Fine & Rare Macallan and they do not appear to hold records of this release but he agreed that it was likely to be a 10 Year Old.

Although I cannot find a live auction precedence for this specific bottling, commemorative bottlings of The Macallan like this can achieve a fair value at auction. It is no accident that the distillery sits at the top of the WM Index.


I have been unable to identify a bottle of whiskey but would welcome any information you may able to discover as a result of any detective work. I believe the bottle to be more than 30 years old. What does 22 under proof mean? Is this in relationship to 100 deg proof?
D. G. Smith, UK

This bottle of Irish Whiskey has a torn label in very poor condition bottled by Coverdale & Co Ltd of New London Street, London EC3. I cannot find a mention of the company in any of my resources. Companies House do not appear to have a listing either. I can help you with the under proof. It is in relation to 100 proof I suspect this is close to 40% ABV (78 proof).