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Issue 70 - What's in a bottle?

Whisky Magazine Issue 70
February 2008


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What's in a bottle?

Faked single malt whisky has once again been making headlines in recent months,we look at what has been going on

The first questionable bottle was an ‘1856, John McWilliam' bottling of Macallan which was originally part of the Christie's New York sale (see issue 69). This bottling was one of the allegedly 19th century bottles of Macallan which were subsequently shown to have been faked.

The distiller, which had sold some of its collection before the fakes were discovered (though after doubts had been raised), had invited all the collectors who had bought these bottles to return the bottles and offered to reimburse them all.

The Scotch Whisky Review alerted both Christie's and Macallan of this and though the auction house was initially reluctant to withdraw the bottle, it was eventually persuaded to do so. Whether Christie's or the distiller will now pursue the collector who knew that the bottle was faked is not clear.

The pre-Christmas period also saw another incident, not over a fake but the questionable dating of a bottle given by Glasgow auction house, McTear's. If true, its dating of a bottle of ‘Mutter Bowmore' as 1853 would have made this the oldest bottle of single malt ever to have come up for auction.

A number of academics, including Professor Michael Moss of Glasgow University (the co-author of The Making of Scotch Whisky and a History of Bowmore), expressed doubts to McTear's over this date.

All felt that the label, bottle, glass and the fact that Mutter only used its trademark from the 1870s onwards pointed to it coming from the end of the 19th century. An old bottl...

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