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
We are a charity that raises money for women with breast cancer in Egypt and we have had a bottle of Ardbeg Auriverdes donated to the charity. I have no idea what it is worth, but we are going to auction it at a charity event. Any advice you can offer to where to advertise the bottle or how we might get the best price for it would be much appreciated?
Anne Kingston, Trustee

Whisky auctions for charity have produced some of the highest prices ever, such as we saw with the successful Distillers' Charity Auction in 2013. Your donated bottle of Ardbeg Auriverdes is worth around £80 and I can offer the following advice to help you and other charities that receive donations of collectable whisky. You have two options for maximizing the value of this bottle for the benefit of the charity. Firstly, if you auction it at a charity dinner for example, you cannot be certain of how many whisky collectors may be amongst your guests. A smaller pool of people can mean less competition, which can result in a lower price, though you can never discount the generosity of guests at a charity event.

The alternative is to sell it at a specialist whisky auction. This widens the number of potential bidders to many thousands. If the approach is right, the auction house will put on charity bottles without charge and include a little information about the charity to encourage people to bid generously. Sotheby's, Bonhams, McTear's, Mulberry Bank Auctions, Whisky-Online Auctions, Scotch Whisky Auctions, and Whisky Auctioneer are all businesses that I can remember accepting charity lots in the past.

Could you please give me a valuation on two bottles of whisky that I have? The first one is The Macallan 15 Years Old distilled in 1984 in the tube with Easter Elchies House pictured on the front and the second is The Macallan Gran Reserva 18 Years Old distilled in 1979 in its wooden case.
Heather Cameron

The Macallan has always been at the top of the Whisky Magazine Index making it the world's most collectable single malt whisky. The Macallan 1984 15 Years Old is occasionally sighted at auction but prices can be variable. McTear's sold one for £170 in July 2014, but Mulberry Bank Auctions achieved £240 for one in June 2014. Earlier prices before those sales are similar for live auctions. However, online auctions should offer you a greater return if you are looking to sell. Scotch Whisky Auctions achieved £380 for one last year in their 39th auction, though the last one they sold only made £195. Whisky Auctioneer took £310 in September 2014, but only £250 in February 2015. It might be the type of bottle to set a reserve on, to ensure it does not sell for too small a sum.

The Macallan Gran Reserva 18 Years Old has surged in value in recent years. Whisky-Online Auctions have achieved £1,300 for this bottle last year, though bottles have been going for around £900 - £1000 this year. Live auction prices are broadly similar, though some higher equivalent prices have been achieved using fine wine auctions in New York or auction houses in Hong Kong (though taxes could wipe out those gains). A guide price of £900 - £1,100 is a reasonable expectation.

I have a bottle of Scott's Collection Port Ellen 1983 18 Years Old in a blue presentation box in perfect condition. This was given to me as a present some twelve years ago. I have not opened it because I think I may not like it: I generally prefer Irish to Scotch. I am inclined to sell it and buy something I know I will like. Can you please give me a valuation?

John Kirk

I think the majority of our readers would be willing to make you an offer! Your Scott's Selection release was bottled in 2001 with an ABV of 55.5%. These are attractive to connoisseurs, as recent Port Ellen releases have been aged for 30 years or more. The opportunity to drink cask strength Port Ellen 18 Years Old is becoming very rare indeed. McTear's, Glasgow sold a couple of these bottles in their April sale and they fetched £220 - 260. The online auctions are getting similar prices but their charges may be lower.