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 inherited a huge collection of over 600 whisky miniatures from my father. He retired in 1992, and most of the bottles would have been purchased before then. There are some full sized bottles too, including a Glen Grant 1936. I have contacted a few auction houses and they are all happy to auction them, but their valuations are all quite different. Can you please advise?
D. Trueman

Miniatures were popular in the 1980s and 1990s as a means of trying the liquid before you bought a full bottle. This was before the popularity of whisky tastings, whisky shows, and good whisky shops on most high streets. Whisky enthusiasts passionately collected miniatures too, though these days, most collectors concentrate on full-sized bottles. Many miniatures may be bunched together by region, by bottler, or jumbled in a box. As the whisky auction scene has greatly expanded in the last five years, auction houses are competing fiercely for your business. This puts you in a strong position to choose the business that will offer you the best returns and charge the appropriate commission. Places which specialise in miniatures are likely to give you the best returns: Whisky Online Auctions (their whisky specialist is Angus MacRaild) run regular online miniature auctions and they get good prices for full bottles too, McTear's, Glasgow (their whisky specialist is Stephen McGinty) are a traditional auction house that run rare whisky sales including miniatures every six weeks. Valuations may vary, especially for miniatures, as it is a less predictable market (look through some old results on Whisky Online Auctions or at Scotch Whisky Auctions). You can haggle the buyer's premiums if you have a lot to sell, even with the big name salerooms. Finally, local auctioneers can move whiskies as part of general antique sales, though without putting them in front of a specialist whisky audience, then prices are usually lower and you don't want to give away your father's special collection.

I have twelve bottles of vintage Overholt Whiskey made in spring 1921 and bottled in 1932, housed in the carton case they came in. Five are fully sealed with some evaporation. Can you give me an idea of the worth of each full pint? Where could I sell them?
E. Barnett

Interestingly, Old Overholt has recently jumped into the top five of the WMI after an enormous sale at Christie's, New York of pre-Prohibition Overholt Rye Whiskey dating from the early years of the 20th Century. Many of these were fetching $10,000 - $15,000 per case for 12 bottles. In general, better prices are paid for good fill levels, intact packaging, and certain brands. You would be well advised to speak to Christie's, New York given their recent sale, but the other places doing reasonable volumes of whiskey in their fine wine sales are Acker Merrall & Condit, Wally's Auctions, and Zachys auctions. Hart Davis Hart in Chicago and Bonhams, New York would be worth approaching too. Skinner Inc, Boston are running the main dedicated whiskey sales in the US at present, and it is worth speaking to their specialist Joe Hyman (sometimes he will travel to pick up the rarest stock). If it is legal in your area, then you could look at an online auction platform such as who are achieving good prices although there are strict rules about private liquor sales in certain parts of the US.

I worked for BAE who worked side by side at Prestwick with Jetstream producing the 31 and 41 variant aircraft. At my leaving party in 2003, my Director presented me with an Auchentoshan Jetstream Whisky. Anything you can tell me would be greatly appreciated.
N. Hart

The Jetstream bottling is an Auchentoshan 10 Years Old single malt whisky that comes in a presentation tube. Morrison Bowmore Distillers released a number of special bottles for different industries (the history of the company has been recently celebrated in the excellent book But the Distilleries Went On by Ian Buxton). This bottling achieves hammer prices of only £25 - £30. There is a bottling of The Macallan Jetstream 12 Years Old that has fetched up to £1,200 at McTear's, Glasgow (in case you have one of those tucked away).