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 the following books that I was given by a friend many years ago: The Manufacture of Whisky and Plain Spirit by Nettleton, Truths About Whisky Smuggling in the Highlands by Ian Macdonald, and Reminiscences of a Gauger by Joseph Pacy. The books are limited editions of 300 copies. I wonder if they are of any value?
J. Smernicki

These are beautifully presented facsimile versions of these rare whisky tomes that were republished by Classic Expressions from 2006 onwards. Classic Expressions was a publishing collaboration between whisky authors Ian Buxton and Neil Wilson who endeavoured to bring out of print texts to the curious whisky historian. Each book was produced from a high quality digital scan of an original 19th or early 20th Century edition, and presented in a slipcase with a searchable PDF file on a CD (remember, this preceded the era of eBooks, Kindles, and iPads by several years). Classic Expressions made a fine job of producing these editions with the technology of the day, but the concept of the series only ran to four titles in the end. You can still find most editions for sale online through specialist whisky shops and rare book dealers for the original price of £50 a copy. Any art dealer would tell you that an original artwork is worth far more than a modern limited edition reproduction. Although original copies of rare whisky books can fetch hundreds of pounds at auction, Classic Expressions was a laudable experiment to produce affordable, well-executed copies of interesting texts. Your collection is worth around £200 at present, though few of these will come to auction whilst they can still be bought online.

During the 1960s, I took part in the Scottish archery championships on the Isle of Skye and we would tour Scotland after the tournament. On one occasion, we visited Dornoch where we found a wine and spirit merchants where I purchased a bottle of Glen Grant 21 Years Old 70 per cent proof. It has just come to light, forgotten about in the back of a cupboard for at least 50 years. If it was bottled in the 1960s, the whisky inside must have been distilled in the 1940s. Would it be possible to date it? I'm thinking of selling it, could you advise the best way?
R. Sheffield

This is a screw cap bottle of Glen Grant 21 Years Old bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, the Elgin based independent bottler who have a long association with that distillery. Glen Grant was silent during World War II, but distilling would have begun in the post war years. The fill level appears to be excellent, the label colours are bright, and the closure looks intact, so it could easily fetch £100-150 or more at auction. There are numerous live and online whisky auction houses in the UK who would be delighted to assist you in selling your rare bottle.

I just inherited a half gallon unopened bottle of Canadian Club from 1949. How do I find out how much it's worth? How do I sell it?
M. Tavel

Over the years, I must have had more readers ask questions about vintage Canadian Club than almost any other brand! Until recently, most Canadian Club bottles from the 1960s and 1970s sold at auction for disappointingly low sums. However, the interest in Canadian whisky has been growing steadily these past few years. This is thanks to a combination of factors such as the spirit of distillers like John Hall at Forty Creek Distillery, the authoritative writing of Davin de Kergommeaux in this magazine and his award-winning book Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert, Mad Men's Don Draper and his predilection for Canadian Club on the rocks (just one of his many vices), the expanding calendar of Canadian whisky festivals, and the growing clutch of awards that Canadian whiskies keep on winning. Word is getting out! Two years ago, Bonhams Edinburgh valued a bottle of Canadian Club 1949 at £300 - 350 but it didn't sell, and a guide price of £60 - 100 might be more achievable for your bottle. Selling privately can be difficult in the US. Like with any US State, you will need to check and abide by State Laws when it comes to selling alcohol without a liquor permit.