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
A friend of mine emigrated from South Africa and offered to sell me all of the liquor he had accumulated over many years. He only drank rum, but he knew my passion for whisky as a collector. In the parcel of liquor was a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label without an age statement. It has been a special part of my collection as I had never seen one before, but I can find nothing about it on the Internet. Could you please give me an idea of its value?
C. Norman

Bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label without an age statement surface at auction every few months, though few reach spectacular sums. The commonest examples are those with 'Extra Special Old Scotch Whisky' in gold lettering across the famous black label angled at 24 degrees, with most whiskies in their original cartons originating from the 1970s and bottled at 70 proof making up to £150, though £60-£80 is more typical. Look carefully and there are examples from earlier decades that slip through for smaller sums.

I have two playing cards that show a Glasgow whisky blender from 70-100 years ago. The name on the cards is J & R Williamson of Glasgow and the names 'Strathbeg' and 'Perfect' whiskies appear. One of the cards features a cartoon showing a man running away from police with a giant whisky bottle. I am interested to know if you ever heard of these marques, which must have been around in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
A. Martin

Not much luck, I'm afraid. Strathbeg is mentioned as a brand of MacDuff International, but this company is only 25 years old, and there was never a Strathbeg distillery. MacDonald & Muir owned a whisky brand named Perfection around a century ago, but I don't find any record of the name Perfect whiskies. I'm looking forward to hearing from a reader who can shed some light on the mystery.

My father has a bottle of unopened Black and White Scotch whisky from 1964. He would like it valued if possible.
A. Duncan

Typically, these will fetch £100-£150, though earlier bottles from the 1930s and 1940s have gone for three or four times that amount.

We have recently acquired my late father-in-law's whisky collection and wondered if any of it is worth saving, collecting or drinking? The two that stick out are a Dalmore 12 Years Old and a Knockando 1964, bottled in 1987. There are also several others: Aberlour, Glengoyne, Northern Scot, and Haig to name a few. These were all given as gifts during his career before he retired in 1993, so it is likely they date from more than 25 years ago. Is there an easy way to age the ones that do not have a year printed on the bottle?
M. Dawson

The bottles without an age statement are likely to be blended whiskies made from whiskies from a range of ages, but arranging a valuation at an auction house will help you to appreciate what you have inherited. The Dalmore 12 Years Old is a Duncan Macbeth & Co bottled in a brown glass bottle with a white striped cap, and a black label with white and gold lettering. A bottle in good condition can fetch £300-350, so this would be an ideal whisky to save and collect, or consider taking to auction.

The Knockando 1964 Extra Old Reserve is presented in a reassuringly solid looking decanter, and typifies the look of a luxury Speyside whisky in the 1980s. It would generate £200-£300 at auction. The Extra Old Reserve releases covered distillates from the 1960s and 1970s and each edition was marked with its vintage year of distillation and bottling date. Justerini & Brooks released these decanters, though the distillery and the brand is now part of Diageo. Harking back to these days, a Knockando 25 Years Old was released in 2011 as part of the Diageo Special Releases.

The late Michael Jackson reviewed the Knockando 1964 Extra Old Reserve in his 1989 book, Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion, scoring it 77. He praised its malty sweetness, oakiness, and depth describing it as 'soft, mellow, elegant, beautifully balanced.' Make this the one that you crack open to raise a toast to absent friends.