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 would like to ask about Parkmore distillery and its whisky. I'm trying to piece together the complete history of the distillery. I believe it is the best preserved Victorian distillery in Speyside which is not currently in production. Are there any bottles left?
N. Dodd

The well-appointed U-shaped configuration of buildings that was Parkmore distillery, Dufftown can be found just off the B9014, after the railway crosses over the Keith road. The distillery was built beside the River Fiddich in 1894 by the Parkmore Distillery Co. and became the fifth distillery in the town. Charles Doig (1855-1918) was the architect and the complex has an attractive three-storey kiln with a slate- roofed pagoda.

George Smith was appointed as the first distillery manager at Parkmore. He was the son of the brewer at The Glenlivet, and the brother of the founder of Cragganmore distillery. Parkmore distillery was acquired by James Watson & Co. Ltd at the turn of the century. This company was founded in 1815 and they were based at 97 Seagate, Dundee. You can still see 'Watson's Bond' signage on the gates of the building in the city to this day. They already owned Ord distillery (Glen Ord), and they bought Pulteney distillery (Old Pulteney) in 1920. But in May 1923, all three distilleries were taken over and James Watson & Co. Ltd was put into liquidation. Parkmore distillery passed from John Dewar & Sons Ltd to the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in 1925, then Scottish Malt Distillers Ltd (SMD) in 1930, before production ceased forever in 1931. The maltings were used until 1968 for DCL/SMD distilleries, before the buildings were sold in the 1980s and they are now used as bonded warehouses.

There are four bottles of Parkmore photographed in Valentino Zagatti's 1999 book, The Best Collection of Malt Scotch Whisky, and it may be that two of them were subsequently sold. In Martin Green's 2007 book, Collecting Malt Whisky: A Price Guide, he lists two sales of Parkmore bottles that took place 13 years ago. The photographed example was a 16 Years Old dated to 1911 that sold for £2,700, and a second bottling of Parkmore Fine Old Scotch Whisky estimated to be from the late 19th Century sold for £2,100 in 2001. Both bottles appear in the Zagatti collection. If another bottle ever surfaced at auction, the sceptics would insist on the provenance being watertight before being convinced to bid hard. However, it could potentially sell for five figures.

Recently, we inherited a numbered white ceramic bottle of Chivas Regal 12 Years Old in a velvet presentation box. The whisky was created for the inaugural Seagram Grand National in 1984. We are thinking of sending it for auction - is it worth it?
S. Garside

This bottle should certainly reward you if you send it to auction. It's a commemorative bottle of Chivas Regal 12 Years Old marking 150 years of steeple chasing at Aintree. These were beautifully packaged in white Spode bone china, however the whisky inside will be no different to Chivas Regal 12 Years Old from that era. Vintage limited edition blends are increasingly sought after at auction and there are surprisingly few auction records for this one. Bonhams, Edinburgh sold one for £380 three years ago, and the interest in blends has grown steadily over that period. I suspect this bottle would be better catalogued for a live auction, rather than online, as a listing for "Chivas Regal 12 Year Old" could get lost easily by internet bidders scrolling through hundreds of lots.

I have recently inherited a bottle of Talisker from a relative and wondered if you could supply some information regarding its age and valuation? My grandfather took his holidays close to the Talisker Distillery every year and was given this bottle as a present. It remains sealed, but unfortunately no box with it.
R. Hill

This is an attractive half bottle of Talisker 8 Years Old bottled for the Distillers Agency Ltd of Edinburgh (a subsidiary of the DCL). It is pre-metric, and the label style and printing dates it to the 1960s or early 1970s. Full-sized bottles fetch £450-500 these days. You might get £150-200 realistically, but up to £300 if there was a lot of competition.