When many drinkers think about single malt Scotch whisky (as you may or may not know, the Scotch industry uses whisky instead of whiskey to describe its native spirit), they imagine gray-haired, heavily mustachioed men wearing tweed sport coats ruminating about the stock market or foreign policy while they sip on equally ancient whisky distilled before any of us were born. In most cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are countless reasonably priced bottles of single malt Scotch whisky just waiting to be discovered (many well below $100). But, for all the 10-, 12-, and 16-year-old expressions, there are a handful of dusty, long-aged bottles that appear seemingly out of nowhere. In recent years, there seems to be a glut of ridiculously old, expensive bottles on the market. But none are as old as the whisky that was recently found in a hidden room in a Scottish castle.
Blair Castle in Perthshire was built more than 750 years ago. This tourist destination is famous for its beautiful architecture and as the ancestral home of Clan Murray. But now it is going to be known as the castle where the oldest Scotch whisky currently in existence was found. The whisky, believed to be almost 200 years old, was found in a hidden cellar door in the basement of the castle.
The story begins in 2022 when the Resident Trustee of Blair Castle, Bertie Troughton, stumbled upon the dusty, old bottles of whisky in a small room in the basement. Around forty bottles in total were discovered on the back of a shelf in the cellar. When the bottles were first discovered, some were opened and sampled by the family and local whisky experts. Eventually, they reached out to Whisky Auctioneer for more authentication.
Radiocarbon dating analysis by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre was used to figure out when the whisky was distilled and bottled. The analysis found that the grain used was grown before 1955 and most likely in the 1800s. It’s believed the whisky was distilled in 1833 and bottled in 1841.
The whiskies have an estimated alcohol content of 61.3% ABV and, if you want to get your hands on one, are set to go to auction through Whisky Auctioneer this month.
“Offering what is potentially the world’s oldest scotch whisky at auction is truly a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence,” said Joe Wilson, Head Curator and Spirits Specialist at Whisky Auctioneer, in a press release. “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.”
If you have hundreds of thousands of dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to add one of these bottles to your collection, the company will be auctioning 24 individual lots between November 24th and December 4th on its site. It’ll look nice next to that flavorful, complex, smoky bottle of Lagavulin 16 already on your shelf.
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