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 have a bottle of unknown blended whisky from MacLeay Duff Distillers, Glasgow from 1977, but I cannot find any information about it. Can you help?
K. D. E. Maere

MacLeay Duff Distillers originated in 1863 but they were acquired as a subsidiary company of the Distillers Company Limited (DCL) in 1933 in the wake of Prohibition for the sum of £325,000. They were based on Hope Street in Glasgow, perhaps better known to contemporary whisky drinkers as the street where you can find The Pot Still bar, but MacLeay Duff Distillers lay closer to where Glasgow Central station is situated. They were owners of Millburn Distillery in Inverness under license between 1943 - 1985 and bottled a blended malt whisky called The Mill Burn. Most of their products were blended malts or blended whiskies for export. A few have been spotted at auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions for example have sold a bottle of Antique Extra Special Blended Whisky for £20, and a bottle of MacLeay Duff Special Matured Cream for £15. The Mill Burn fares better with a tall bottle of The Mill Burn Pure Malt 12 Years Old making £125, and a dumpy bottle reaching £85.

I have inherited 40 bottles of Bailie Nicol Jarvie. I am aware it has recently been discontinued, but do you have any suggestions of what I can do with it?
I. Parsons

Bailie Nicol Jarvie is a recently discontinued blended Scotch whisky, which was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott's 1817 novel Rob Roy. The blend originated under Nicol Anderson & Co. Ltd, later acquired by the family firm of Macdonald & Muir Ltd. The high malt content dram was a secret pleasure of many Scots who sought out the blend specifically. Over the past few decades, the Glenmorangie Company produced the blend. However, bottling was discontinued last year and stocks were channelled into single malt supplies, though many whisky retailers still have bottles of BNJ on sale for about £35.

To be bequeathed forty bottles of whisky is rather a fine inheritance for any whisky enthusiast, though it's curious when they are all from one brand. Of course, the right and proper thing to do is to open at least one bottle and toast the memory of their former owner. This kind of volume would give you a daily dram for the next three years or more, but life's too short for that sort of liquid monogamy. Although bottles sell at auction for £30-40, selling them like this would be a laborious task as you would need to drip feed it on to online auction sites over months and months so that your actions didn't oversupply the market and jeopardise your profits. You could hoard it to sell later, but whilst you are tripping over the BNJ boxes cluttering up your whisky bunker, you might reflect on how there are already numerous examples of long discontinued blends that still only sell for small sums. My final suggestion would be to approach a whisky retailer, hotelier, or publican who might appreciate the opportunity to lay their hands on some stock that is no longer available from their suppliers.

I have a whisky pitcher that is four inches tall with the words 'Mackinlay's Scotch Whisky' on the side, but can find no information on it.
L. Chimko

Your photographs show a dark jug in the shape of whisky barrel with a row of hallmarks on the underside. It's a nice piece of whiskiana. These pieces would sit next to the slop trays in public bars to enable drinkers to add a dash of water to their Scotch, though their purpose was as much promotional as functional, as they played an additional suggestive role in prompting the indecisive drinker into what to order next. Some whisky jugs can sell for hundred of pounds, others go for pennies.

Mackinlay's Finest Old Scotch Whisky was produced by Charles Mackinlay & Company Limited. The family business passed down through the generations, and under Mackinlay & Birnie Ltd they controlled a number of distilleries including Glenallachie, Isle of Jura, Glen Mhor, and Glen Albyn. Whisky drinkers today perhaps best remember the name Mackinlay through the wonderful Shackleton replica bottles recreated by Richard Paterson in 2011.