Rare bottle of Highland malt to go under hammer

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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A RARE bottle of Scotch regarded by experts as “one of the scarcest whiskies in the world” is expected to sell for several thousand pounds at auction.

The Royal Brackla 60-year-old 1924, which was never officially released by the Highland distillery, is one of the most sought after bottles among whisky aficionados.

It was produced in 1984 after workers at the Nairn plant discovered a handful of casks in the corner of a warehouse.

The casks, which had been filled in the same year Ramsay MacDonald left Downing Street, had been lying undisturbed for six decades.

At the time, Royal Brackla was going through a tumultuous time in its proud and storied history. Founded on a site near Cawdor Castle in 1812, it was the first distillery in Scotland to be granted a Royal Warrant when William IV bestowed the honour on its owner, Captain William Fraser.

By the mid-1980s however, its fortunes had waned. Overproduction in the industry meant that the decision was taken to close the distillery in 1985 and the 1924 batch, bottled at James Buchanan & Co in Stepps, went back into storage.

It was only six years later when United Distillers decided to reopen Royal Brackla that it saw the light of day.

Only 62 bottles were filled and instead of going on sale, they were presented to local dignitaries and members of the company’s workforce, with few ever reaching the open market in the three decades since.

Now, a rare bottle be the showpiece lot at Bonham’s latest whisky auction, due to take place in Edinburgh next month.

A bottle from the same casks was sold six years by the auction house in New York, when it reached a price of £2,345.

Since then, however, its value has rocketed, with bottles changing hands through rare whisky dealers for as much as £7,500.

The Bonhams lot as an estimate of £3,500 to £4,500 and comes with a miniature and a certificate of authenticity.

According to The Whisky Exchange, one of world’s leading specialist retailers in the spirit, the Royal Brackla single malt is a “true rarity,” given that it is “incredibly old” and never made its way onto general sale.

The bottle, according to Martin Green, Bonham’s whisky specialist, is the highlight of the auction.

“If I had to pick a favourite, I’d go for the Royal Brackla 60 year-old for its incredible rarity,” he explained. “I’ve never been lucky enough to try it so this would be the perfect opportunity.”

The sale will also see a single lot of the Bowmore Trilogy, which comprises of three bottles - Black Bowmore 42 year-old 1964, released in 2007; White Bowmore 43 year-old 1964, released in 2008; and Gold Bowmore 44 year-old 1964, released in 2009 - which are also sought after by whisky connoisseurs and collectors. The lot is estimated at £12,000 to £14,000.

Other bottles in the sale include The Macallan Select Reserve 52 year-old 1946, estimated to sell for in the region of £5,000 to £6,000, and Dalmore 50 year-old 1926, which has an estimate of £4,000 to £5,000.

Mr Green added: “This is a particularly strong sale and I’d happily settle in front of the Christmas fire with a glass from any of the bottles we have on offer.”

The annual Christmas rare and fine whisky sale will take place on 9 December.