It's All in the Prime Number

Jonny recommends four great age statement whiskies
By Jonny McCormick
Not so long ago, the presence of age statements on whisky bottles was rather conventional and predictable. For a while, many of the great brands created their range of single malts aged for 10, 12, 15, 18, and 25 Years. Glenfarclas, The Macallan, The Glenlivet, they were all at it. You knew where you were.

Whisky styles expanded in all directions offering us a giddying choice: finished whiskies, young whiskies, vintage whiskies, no age statement whiskies, multi-vintage whiskies, and greatly aged whiskies. It felt like someone had torn up the rulebook. I learnt recently about the decidedly different new range of Craigellachie whiskies which include bottlings at 13, 17, and 23 Years Old; intriguingly all prime numbers. Amidst the current paucity of age statements, we greet the new releases with four other proprietary prime number bottlings.


23 Years Old Batch 1


Bottler: William Grant & Sons
Region: Speyside
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £260
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions
Date: July 2013

Comment: This first bottling under the Kininvie name was released exclusively in Taiwan. The first bottles brought back to the auctions sites made up to £450, though prices have stabilised since then. Batch 2 has recently become available in the UK, which may further control prices, whilst Taiwan is enjoying a new exclusive 17 Years Old edition. Prime numbers all the way.


Royal Rare Malt Selection, 29 Years Old


Bottler: Diageo
Region: Highland
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £320
Auction: Whisky Online Auctions
Date: February 2014

Comment: The Glenury Royal releases in the Rare Malts Selection series sit in the middle range of prices due to its closed distillery status and the well-respected quality of the single malt from Stonehaven. This release may be the easiest to acquire as you can expect to pay more for the 23 or 28 Years Old in the same series.

Port Ellen

10th release, 31 Years Old


Bottler: Diageo
Region: Islay
WM tasting scores: 8.1 & 7.6 (Issue 93)
Recent auction price: £919
Auction: Bonhams, Hong Kong
Date: May 2014

Comment: Was it really less than five years ago when this bottling appeared for £250? Even though our reviewers did not consider this to be Port Ellen in its prime, whisky collectors have been merrily trading on this, for ever increasing sums ever since. Live auction prices are closer to £500 in the UK.

Glen Garioch

37 Years Old, 200th Anniversary


Bottler: Morrison Bowmore Distillers
Region: Highland
WM tasting scores: N/A
Recent auction price: £720
Auction: Scotch Whisky Auctions
Date: October 2013

Comment: Fittingly, there were only 200 bottles released in 1997, though the date of 1797 is now incorporated into the current packaging for their Founder's Reserve. It's one of the rarer bicentenary bottles to acquire but this prime example from Old Meldrum can still be sourced if you know where to look.