By John Rose

Ask the expert

In a new series John Roseanswers some of your most commonly asked questions
Q.We hold our Whisky Society meetings in The Black Swan Pub and we think there was a whisky called Black Swan Whisky? Mike & Barbara Smith, West Coast Whisky Society, Vancouver A. There was a Black Swan blend, produced by J&W Nicholson & Co Ltd., Windsor House, 83 Kingsway, London (Blenders & Exporters). A subsidiary of Stewart & Son of Dundee Ltd, though the firm is better known for its gin distilling than its whisky blending but it has been blending whiskies for over 100 years.Q. I have come across an odd shaped bottle called Johnnie Walker Swinger? Pat Jareck, New Zealand A. JW Swing was created by Sir Alexander Walker and launched in 1932, in response to the then marketing opportunity onboard transatlantic liners. It's a super deluxe blend, therefore appealing to the well-healed travellers on these ships, the bottle is designed to rock to-and-fro with the motion of the ship. It is still produced, mainly for Asian markets and global duty free.Q. I have a bottle of Mac Spey Honey Whisky "guaranteed to be made from the best materials according to the original recipe. Produced in Scotland. Embossed cap Mac Spey London." Bought by my father-in-law in 1963. I don't think it's still drinkable because there is a lot of residue in the whisky. Can you give me any information on the bottle? Tom De Herdt, Belgium A.Tom, I am sorry I have no information for you on this bottle. But I think if it had honey added it probably would not be very good to drink after all this time. However, I would like to ask any of our readers if they can help with any information on this bottle.Q. I am working on a play called I Have Been Here Before, by JB Priestley. Written in 1937, in the script he states that there is an Old Highland Blend whisky being drunk. I have had no luck in finding anything about this whisky and was wondering if in fact it is a blend of whisky, or did it ever exist? Sarah Rhodes, London A. Sarah, JB Priestly could well have written about a whisky of this name in 1937. There was Eldridge, Pope & Co. Ltd., Dorchester Brewery, Weymouth Avenue, Dorchester, Dorset, which started filling and blending Scotch whisky in 1908. It was called Old Highland Blend and contained a very high proportion of malt whisky as stated on the label. The malt whisky was distilled in Scotland but the final blending was done in the company's chalk cellars in Dorset. Markets for this blend were Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire and the South of England.Q. I recently discovered in the back of my cupboard a bottle of Thornes Whisky, 12 years old. I hope you can give some information on the bottle, and if it is worth anything? Harry Benson, Australia A. Hi Harry. Thorne & Sons was a whisky merchant from Greenock & London. It produced four blends, one of which was the 12 year old. The price of the bottle will depend on the condition of the label, the evaporation in the bottle, condition of the seal etc. Blends do not command as high a price as single malts, but in good condition it could reach £100 at auction.Q. Could you please give me some information on an old bottle of whisky I have called Old Royal? Produced by Burn Mackenzie, Dumbarton, Scotland. Glen Phillips, Newcastle, Australia A. Old Royal was a blended whisky produced by Burn MacKenzie & Co Ltd, associate of Burn Stwerat & Co Ltd, 79 Marylebone Lane, London, WIM 5GA.Q. I have in my possession a bottle of whisky called Old Angus. I think between 65-80 years old. The seal reads "A noble Scotch, gentle as a lamb", with a little toy lamb hanging from it. Could you give me any information about this bottle and its value? Marc Haslehurst, Italy A. Old Angus was a liqueur blended Scotch whisky. Blended and bottled by Tain & McIntyre Ltd, Glasgow exclusively for the export market. Train & McIntyre was integrated into DCL Distillers Company Ltd in 1953, now known as Diageo. Price at auction in good condition £175-200. Ask the expert If you have a question for John, send it to: editorial@whiskymag.com, or by post to:
Questions & Answers,
Whisky Magazine,
St Faiths House,
Mountergate,
Norwich,
England,
NR1 1PY