I am planning a whisky party with a theme of whisky distilleries over 50 years old. Can you help me find out about them?
E. Van Hurck
That sounds like a tremendous idea for a party! Obviously, there are many book and Internet sites listing basic distillery information including foundation dates. One of the most comprehensive texts is the The Scottish Whisky Distilleries (2007) by Misako Udo, although it is quite a rare book these days. Many distilleries have been completely rebuilt or reopened after many decades of inactivity since their foundation. However, looking at Scottish whisky distilleries that were founded in 1965 or earlier (yet currently still in production), the list comes to just over 80 sites. The vast majority of these distilleries were founded in the late 18th Century and throughout the whisky booms of the 19th Century. Tullibardine, Glen Keith, Tormore, Tomintoul, and Loch Lomond are the most recent quinquagenarian distilleries to make the list. Certainly, with that amount of choice, your party is bound to be a great success.
Some years ago, a friend gave me two cask strength whiskey miniatures from 'Daly's Tullamore Distillery,' bottled by WM Cadenhead in 1991. One is 38 Years Old and the other 41 Years Old. I would love to know more about the distillery they are from and whether they hold any value. Both are unopened and full to the shoulder.
These were bottled under the Cadenhead's Authentic Collection in emerald green tubes with shamrock motifs. The 41 Years Old was distilled in 1949 and bottled at 65.3 per cent and there were reportedly 214 miniatures produced. You will find tasting notes published in 1997 if you can find a copy of the Jim Murray book Classic Irish Whisky. At the time of writing, there is a 75cl bottle of Daly's Tullamore 38 Years Old 68.9 per cent, distilled in 1952, for sale at Hedonism Wines in Mayfair, London. Bonhams, Edinburgh sold a bottle at auction in 2013 for £320. However, McTear's have valued the individual miniatures at £200-300 in the past.
A new Tullamore Dew distillery was opened in 2014 under William Grant & Sons. The distillery began under Michael Molloy and passed to his nephew, Bernard Daly following Molloy's death in 1846. Daly passed it to his son, Captain Daly, in the 1880s who made Daniel E. Williams the general manager to run it for him (the brand Tullamore Dew was named after William's initials). Around this time, Alfred Barnard visited the distillery in 1887. The distillery went on to have its own railway connection in addition to access to the Grand Canal. Fortunately, the new distillery will mean that in the future, we can anticipate drinking the first new whiskies to be distilled at Tullamore distillery for more than a quarter of a century.
I have bottle number 1 of Highland Park 1977 Bicentenary Repatriation that I bought as an investment. Is there any added value to having the number 1 bottle? I suspect that it may be number 1 from the original batch, not from the 649 repatriated from Japan as I've seen higher numbers on sale.
The Highland Park Bicentenary 1977 Repatriation bottle was released in 2009 after 649 bottles of the original release from 1998 were discovered in Japan. The Repatriation release was a superb repackaging endeavour, replacing the uncelebrated black cardboard tubes with new oak boxes laser cut with the Japanese characters for Highland Park. The original bottles were gently wrapped by hand in beautifully printed washi paper and placed inside the box with a booklet explaining their journey. The bottle numbers matched the tube numbers on the 1998 release, but you are correct, they were never renumbered before re-release in 2009 and the numbers did not run consecutively.
The Repatriation was originally sold for £250 through Highland Park's online shop and at the distillery on Orkney. Today, vendors can hope to see a hammer price of £350 - £450. Bottle number 1 usually commands a small, but unpredictable premium compared to other numbers but in this case, it should prove to be a smart investment.