Art Market: Bottles of whisky recovered

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

FOUR of the last 14 bottles of whisky recovered from SS Politician, wrecked in 1941, which are to be auctioned tomorrow. The bottles are expected to fetch up to pounds 700 each at Christie's fifth annual whisky sale in Glasgow, writes John Arlidge. According to Martin Green of Christie's the bottles' value comes not from the 74 per cent proof spirit they hold, which is contaminated with sediment and iron and cannot be drunk, but 'from the mystery and intrigue surrounding SS Politician.'

The wrecking of SS Politician inspired Sir Compton Mackenzie's 1947 novel, Whisky Galore, later made into a film. The steamship was sailing from Scotland to Kingston, Jamaica, via New Orleans when it foundered and ran aground in a gale off the Isle of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides. The wreck was left unguarded for several weeks and islanders looted most of the 260,000 bottles of whisky on board, along with the remaining cargo of plumbing fittings and motorcycle spares. Eventually, 40 people were arrested and 15 jailed.

Three years ago the last of the cargo was salvaged, including the 14 bottles stamped 'Federal Law Forbids Sale or Re-use of This Bottle'.

(Photograph omitted)