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
Please can you advise me of the value of a cask of Bruichladdich whisky laid down on the 25th November 2002, gauged to 145.1 litres?
F. MacKenzie by email

The Bruichladdich cask scheme and futures offering were phenomenally popular, and the cash flow from whisky enthusiasts gave the company some welcome capital to spend on laying down stocks in the early years after the reopening in 2001. I imagine there are quite a few Whisky Magazine readers anticipating the maturation of their own cask of Bruichalddich single malt whisky. I'm assuming that your cask was an ex-bourbon barrel with a 200 litre capacity as it was filled in 2002. However, Bruichladdich offered other types such as wine casks in later years. As your whisky approaches 12 years in wood, those Ileach angels have taken over 25 per cent of the total volume as it has mellowed and matured. However, console yourself with the knowledge that this is still less than a cumulative loss of 2 per cent of the residual volume per year. Without knowing the exact type of cask and the alcohol strength of your whisky, it is impossible to give you a meaningful market valuation. The Bruichladdich scheme offered cask owners a buy back option through the company, but you have other choices such as selling to brokers, independent bottlers or approaching an auctioneer, depending on your purpose for the whisky when you ordered the filling. My advice on this subject to some Springbank cask owners in Issue 120 led to a flurry of interest from potential purchasers. Who knows, perhaps you will be as lucky?

Can you tell me anything about this old bottle called Suntory Excellence?
J. Berkus, California

Suntory Excellence is a blended Japanese whisky that was exported to a number of markets. It has a knarled, square sided bottle and a metallic neck label. It is rumoured to have had a malt content of up to 40-50%. Scotch Whisky Auctions sold one in February for £85. Typically, there are not reciprocal trading arrangements between the major whisky producers in Japan, so the majority of the contents will come from the Suntory-owned distilleries: Yamazaki and Hakushu, with the grain whisky originating from their Chita distillery in the SunGrain complex.

I have an unopened bottle of Canadian Masterpiece in a red box dated 1963. The box has a business name 'Farmers State Bank Parkston, South Dakota" on it. Can you give me an idea of its value?
J. Waldner by email

There are a good number of these bottles offered for sale but they generally sell for relatively small sums. Much of the trading is online and trading on eBay was commonplace when it was permitted. Bonhams, New York achieved one of the better results for this bottle at the end of April. They sold a bottle of Canadian Masterpiece 1957 for US$90 (approximately £52).

I was trying to research this bottle of Black & White Scotch whisky but I cannot find out if it might be worth anything. It is sealed with a neck label stating "By Appointment Distillers to HM the King & HRH the Prince of Wales".
S. Edwards by email

James Buchanan (1849-1935), later Lord Woolavington when he was raised to the peerage in 1922, was a well-connected gentleman and a brilliant salesman. He supplied his famous blend to the House of Commons, and was granted his first royal warrant by Queen Victoria in 1898. The personal qualities of the man helped guarantee the quality of the blended whisky, so the label of the bottle incorporated his signature. Like his mother, Queen Victoria's son, the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII, granted Buchannan his Royal Warrant as well. The neck label of this bottle would make it likely to date from the 1930s or 1940s. It relates to Edward, Prince of Wales who was the son of King George V, and he acceded the throne as King Edward VIII in 1936. Interestingly, there was a release with a neck label that read 'By appointment to the late King George V, Edward VII and Queen Victoria'. Bonhams, Edinburgh sold a bottle with your neck label in March 2012 for £280, and the current vogue for old blends would likely see your bottle of Black & White whisky sell for £300-500 in good condition.