By John Rose

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Q. I am trying to find out information about a decanter I have, for instance when it was produced, value etc. It is brown and white in colour made by Royal Doulton.It is called Castle Grant and is filled with Grants Whisky 21 years old Premium Blend. It is in its original velvet box with tag.Xondra Barton
South Africa A. This Castle Grant decanter was specially produced by Royal Doulton for William Grant and Sons Ltd.Depicting Castle Grant, one of the ancestral seats of the chief of the Clan Grant. It was produced in the early 1980s and contained in a brown coloured velvet presentation box with silk lining.The price at auction would be £80 to £120.Q. I have a question about Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky. I recently came across an old bottle of Chivas Regal about 65 years old.

The bottle is still sealed with a tax label and I was curious about the value.I heard that Chivas Regal introduced a 50 year old batch that sold for $10,000 per bottle. Maybe you can suggest any advice in trying to sell it.Also perhaps its value?Anthony Sciarabba
New York A. You are correct, Chivas did produce a Royal Salute ceramic decanter 50 Years Old blend in 2003. It was a limited edition of 255 decanters, blue in colour, hand crafted with gold and silver letters in a special presentation box.Chivas Royal Salute was originally bottled to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth being crowned in 1953. This 50 year old bottling was produced in celebration of 50 years on the throne.Most of the 255 limited edition decanters were sold in the Far East and American markets. The price was £6,000 or $10,000. However you would appear to have an old Chivas Regal 12 Years Old, which if in good condition would fetch between £30 to £40 at auction.Q. Iaman old Scottish soldier living in Germany and would like to purchase a bottle of Queen Anne whisky from the 1950s. Were can I purchase one and how much will it cost me?S. Crombie
Germany A. The best way to purchase any old bottles of whisky are at the various whisky auctions.This year there will be 12 in Scotland.You can also buy old and collectable bottles from specialist whisky shops.Abottle of Queen Anne blend from the 1950s will cost about £80 to £100 at auction.Q. I had a very interesting tour of a distillery last summer, the tour guide referred to how much influence wood has in the maturing of whisky. I found it quite hard to follow so could you explain the process?J. Borwick
London A. Two types of cask are used to mature new make spirit. American oak casks which have been used in the bourbon industry and European oak casks which have been used by the wine business. The size of the casks are normally 500 litres of butts and 250 litres for hogsheads.New make spirit is filled into casks at 63.5% ABV.As maturation takes place the cask allows the spirits to mature and mellow, i.e. the rough edges escape through the wood and this is known as the angles' share. Approximately two per cent is lost a year.The volume in the cask reduces during the years and the alcoholic strength also drops. During this time the wood also imparts both colour and flavour to the maturing whisky.Spirit has to mature in oak casks on Scottish soil for three years before it can be called Scotch whisky.After 10 to 15 years approximately 25 per cent will have been lost to the angels' share, also the strength will have reduced to about 59% ABV. The age of the whisky is the number of years it has matured, and the length of time the whisky is matured is determined when the correct balance between the spirit and wood is achieved.Wood has a huge influence in maturing whisky. If it is matured for too short a time is can be rough to taste, with little colour or flavour from the cask. Too old or too long in the cask and it can be influenced by too much wood and probably be dark in colour and also woody in taste.