One of the world’s oldest whiskies unearthed in Scottish castle to be auctioned

The Scotch is believed to have been distilled in 1833 and may have been sampled by a young Queen Victoria

Ryan McDougall
Wednesday 27 September 2023 04:31 BST
One of the world’s oldest whiskies up for auction after being found in castle

One of the world’s oldest whiskies will be auctioned off after being discovered hidden in a Scottish castle.

The whisky was found behind a cellar door at 750-year-old Blair Castle, Perthshire, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl.

The Scotch, said to be one of the oldest in the world, is thought to have been distilled nearly 200 years ago and may have been sipped by a young Queen Victoria, who visited the castle and developed a taste for the whisky and honey concoction Atholl Brose.

Around 40 bottles of the rare tipple were discovered in late 2022 when Bertie Troughton, a resident trustee at Blair Castle, happened upon them in the cellar.

They are believed to have been distilled in 1833, bottled in 1841, and later rebottled in 1932.

The bottles were sampled by the family and then tested by a local expert.

Research in the castle archives backs the whisky’s early 19th-century origin, as does authentication from the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre via carbon dating.

A total of 24 bottles are now going on sale individually via Perth-based business Whisky Auctioneer.

Joe Wilson, head curator and spirits specialist at Whisky Auctioneer, claims the bottles contain the “world’s oldest scotch whisky” and said being able to offer them at auction is “truly a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence”.

He said: “I’m fortunate to be well acquainted with old and rare liquid, as Whisky Auctioneer handles some of the world’s rarest whisky bottlings.

“This, however, is a transcendent discovery that is sure to capture not just the imagination of the whisky industry but also those well beyond.

“Distilled in the 1830s, the whisky was made during a fascinating period when whisky production was experiencing massive change following the 1823 Excise Act, making it a particularly exciting find for those interested in the history and heritage of the Scotch whisky industry.”

The archives included cellar inventories known as “bin books” and one, dated July 23 1834 – one year after the whisky was initially casked – shows cask whisky recorded in the cellar.

It states: “Bin 65 – Store Whiskey – 72 bottles = 40 Gallons in wood”.

Mr Troughton said: “Blair Castle is fortunate to have one of the best archives of any historic house in Scotland and it’s been wonderful to see the story of these fabulous bottles come to life in the archives.

“Whisky has always been a huge part of the history of Blair Castle and we will be building an exhibition around the bottles we keep after the auction so that all who visit Blair Castle can see it and hear the history of this incredible whisky.”

Angus MacRaild, a specialist in old and rare whiskies, is among the small group of people who have sampled the unique spirit.

He said: “This is a profoundly historic whisky and a remarkable artefact of Scottish distilling that is unlikely to ever be equalled in terms of provenance and preservation.

“That it has been carefully re-bottled and preserved at natural strength, maintaining the freshness and power of this spirit for nearly two centuries is, frankly, astonishing.

“To taste it myself has been a great privilege.”

He said it has “a flavour profile that strongly involves medicinal characteristics without any notable or pronounced peat smoke”.

The bottles will go up for auction on November 24 until December 4.

For more information about Whisky Auctioneer and to register interest in the auction, please visit: whiskylink.co/Blair-Castle

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