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 recently acquired a 1970s bottle of Glendronach 12 Years Old bottled for Dinosa, Madrid. The bottle is made of clear glass as opposed to green that was standard for this era. I contacted Benriach, the current owners of Glendronach, and they had no knowledge of the bottling. I would be interested in finding out any more information and whether the bottle has any value.
Andy Steadman

Alternative whisky packaging with no brand records always poses a conundrum. Usually, it is the closures that vary; one could surmise that they simply ran out of black caps and used red ones instead on that bottling run. With your Glendronach, they may have used a clear bottle for that reason, or clear glass may have been used deliberately for the export run for Dinosa. However, the other possibility is that this is not what it appears to be. Whilst it looks to be the original box, the closures and fonts on the foil differ from their green bottle contemporaries. It is curious that the green bottles of Glendronach 12 Years Old make regular appearances at auction, yet there are no records of clear bottles being sold on whisky auction websites. If it's a quirk of the bottling line, the liquid will be the same and the value similar to the green bottles. If the provenance is questionable and the brand owners cannot endorse it, you may have to open it to find out what you have got inside.

I have a Springbank 1991 bourbon hogshead and I am thinking about asking J&A Mitchell to bottle it. Might I be able to sell half the bottles on the open market? Do you have any experience of owners doing this successfully?
Nick Adams

I purchased two hogsheads of Springbank in June 1992 and these bourbon casks remain in bond at Springbank distillery. I am planning to retire back to Canada and I need to decide what to do with these casks. Either a) sell them in bond b) bottle the whisky and ship it back to Canada and suffer the taxes, duty and shipping costs or c) some combination of the above. Do you have any guidance as to the price I might receive if I sell the whisky in bond?
Menno Wiebe, Canada

Circumstances can change a great deal between cask purchase and bottling. Springbank distillery no longer sells newly filled casks directly to consumers for example. When you decide your whisky is at its peak, you still need to pay for any outstanding warehouse fees, bottling, labelling, duty, transport, and delivery. This can exceed the initial costs of the cask purchase by some margin. Some distilleries will offer to buy back the entire contents or part thereof but it's solely at their discretion and this rarely offers the best return on your investment. You can get it bottled at the distillery or transport it elsewhere to have it bottled and labelled at your own cost. Trying to sell that number of bottles as an individual is difficult. Finding a retailer willing to put the work into promoting an unknown bottling and make a profit is not easy. You would need to have the cask gauged and procure samples for prospective buyers to try and this will determine the value of the contents. Some people have drip fed their whisky into auctions, a few bottles at a time. Alternatively, there is a very small trade in casks sales at auction though with mixed results; and McTear's have the most experience. The final option is to sell to a broker or independent bottler; interesting casks are in short supply and you may be able to negotiate a better price.

I have 12 bottles of Johnnie Walker whisky from 1977 stored away in unopened original boxes because they were withdrawn from the UK market. This was due to a dispute with the European Union over taxes. Do they hold any significant value or should I just enjoy them?
Martin Kirkland

There is a reasonable market for these at auction from both consumers and retailers, though the price per bottle would be similar to that paid for the contemporary products. Some specialist whisky shops stock large numbers of vintage blends and they may be interested in buying from you directly. More interesting would be to buy a modern bottle and taste it side by side to assess how consistent the flavours are over time.