Closure on bottlegate

By Rob Allanson
McTear’s Auctioneers is settling its dispute with Luc Timmermans following his allegation that they auctioned rare whisky bottles with broken seals. Timmermans, the well-known Malt Maniac and President of the Lindores Whisky Society, successfully bid online for the lots in the Glasgow whisky specialist’s December sale. When an associate collected the bottles, which included six Manager’s Dram bottlings and a square bottle of Glenfarclas 25 Years Old, it was alleged that a number of the screw caps were open and Mr Timmermans sought a refund.

It’s not the first time that unsealed bottles have been sold. Five years ago, the record-breaking Mutter Bowmore bottle sold for £29,400 including premiums despite a tear in the capsule and the cork lying in the bottle. In the world of collectible whiskies, there is an expectation that the bottle will be described accurately including the original labels, closures and packaging where relevant. High-quality images of every lot should assist prospective purchasers online. McTear’s host 10 whisky sales each year handling thousands of bottles and like most of the major auctioneers, offers public viewing ahead of the Rare Whisky sales where bottles can be inspected. They do provide written condition reports free of charge upon request. Their terms and conditions openly state that the absence of a condition description in the catalogue is not an indication of perfect or any condition. Furthermore, if a condition report is not requested, as was the case here, and damage is subsequently detected by the buyer, McTear’s is under no obligation to give a refund. Mr Timmermans made his case public via the internet to urge caution and to encourage online whisky bidders to seek a condition report before bidding on the basis of an online image. Brian Clements, managing
director of McTear’s said: “As a gesture of goodwill as a business, we have offered a refund. We would encourage buyers, as stated in our terms of business, to request a written condition report prior to any sale.”