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
My family in America has been bringing us Kessler Whisky. We have looked for this in the UK, but we cannot find it anywhere. It says on the bottle 'as smooth as silk' and it is! Do you know if it is possible to get it imported to this country?
W. D. Woodward

Kessler Whiskey is an American blended whiskey that can trace its roots back to 1888. Beam Suntory own the brand at present, and they report that it enjoys its position as the no. 2 selling American Blended Whiskey on the market. Julian Kessler himself coined the catchphrase regarding his whisky tasting as smooth as silk. Reportedly, he was a natural born salesman, selling his whiskey from saloon

to saloon around the end of the 19th and early 20th Century.

Unlike blended Scotch whisky, American blended whiskey can contain Bourbon or rye mixed with grain neutral alcohol, so it is much cheaper to produce. The only bottle of Kessler whiskey I can find for sale online in the UK is a vintage 1.75l bottle at Master of Malt. They are a great source of antique whiskies as well as stocking a wide range of American whiskeys. They date their Kessler bottle as being produced in the 1980s and it is on sale for £216 at the time of writing. Bear in mind that in the United States, a modern day 1.75l bottle of Kessler whiskey costs just $19.

A regular supply of Kessler whiskey for consumption in the UK looks like it might be a costly enterprise for your family to deliver, in order to keep you well stocked. As American blended whiskey is a rather niche market for UK tipplers, may I recommend an alternative? One created in Park City, Utah that's the exception to the rule and easily purchased in the UK. Treat yourself to a bottle of High West Double Rye. Here, distillery founder Dave Perkins has combined two different parcels of stock with different rye dominant mashbills that have matured for different lengths of time. He has not used any grain neutral alcohol, so you are buying superior whiskey, but it still counts as an American blended whiskey. It is spicier than the Kessler, but you will notice a significant step up in quality and it's rather glorious.

I recently bought a bottle of Glenleven at an online auction although I can find little information on its contents. Do you know when this whisky was originally on sale and what malt whiskies were used in its production?
S. Irvine

Your bottle dates from the 1980s. On the back, it tells us that it is a vatting of six single malts (so a blended malt whisky in today's parlance). What those six distilleries were is proprietary information and not in the public domain. One reason for not disclosing the distilleries is it gives the blender flexibility to use different whiskies if necessary. I have read that Glenkinchie and Glenlossie were two of them, and heard elsewhere that it had a heart of Speyside malts (but then what blend doesn't?) You'll have to drink it and see what you can figure out!

I had a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label given to me when I flew on Concorde in 1991. Please can you give me a valuation?
R. Coliver

Bottles of Blue Label are a regular fixture of most whisky auctions, and bottles from the 1990s can be acquired for £80 – 120. Prices are slightly higher for original bottlings of Johnnie Walker Oldest, the initial release in the Blue Label range. Johnnie Walker is associated with travel and for collectors, the limited edition range has expanded greatly in recent years with the Skyline editions and the ceramic bottlings for the Johnnie Walker House outlets in major Asian airports.

Concorde had one of the most recognisable noses in the business. There were commemorative Concorde whiskies bottled, a blend by Arthur Bell & Sons, and a highly collectible Glenmorangie distilled on January 21 1976, the day of Concorde's first commercial flight. I am not aware of any special bottling of Blue Label for Concorde, however, you can recreate the supersonic experience in the Concorde Room, at Terminal 5, Heathrow where they serve complimentary Johnnie Walker Blue Label to British Airways First Class passengers. Take your glass through to the business area where original seats taken from Concorde ring the boardroom table. A real flight of fancy.