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World’s oldest Scotch goes under the hammer

Bottles of the world’s oldest Scotch whisky, believed to have been distilled in 1833, will be auctioned in November.

world's oldest Scotch whisky
Two dozen bottles of a whisky believed to be distilled in 1833 will be offered for sale at auction

Scotland-based Whisky Auctioneer will offer 24 bottles of a whisky distilled more than 200 years ago in an auction from 24 November to 4 December.

The whisky is understood to be the oldest Scotch whisky in existence and was found behind a hidden cellar door in the 750-year-old Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland.

It was discovered in late 2022 by Bertie Troughton, resident trustee at Blair Castle in Perthshire, who found 40 bottles of the whisky.

The whisky is believed to have been bottled in 1841, and then rebottled in 1932.

The bottles were initially sampled by the castle’s family and a local whisky expert before Whisky Auctioneer was contacted.

The 19th-century origin of the bottles has been authenticated by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and supported by research in the archives of Blair Castle and Atholl Estates.

Joe Wilson, head curator and spirits specialist at Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer, said: “Offering the world’s oldest Scotch whisky at auction is truly a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.

“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.”

An exhibition at the castle will also be built that will focus on the historic bottles and its history, Troughton said.

Reminiscent of Highland malt whisky

Angus MacRaild, old and rare whisky specialist and co-founder of Scotland’s Kythe Distillery, described the whisky as “typical of older style, distillate-forward Highland malt whiskies”.

“To taste it myself, has been a great privilege. It is very much a distillate-driven malt whisky, with minimal wood influence and one of a style which could have been produced any time in Scotland up until the 1950s,” he noted.

“What I find most interesting is that this profile existed already as far back as the 1830s. It possesses clear textural weight in the mouth, along with a flavour profile that strongly involves medicinal characteristics without any notable or pronounced peat smoke.”

MacRaild said the whisky was “unlikely to ever be equalled in terms of provenance and preservation”.

He added: “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.”

In February last year, The Macallan released an 81-year-old whisky, which took the title of the world’s oldest single malt Scotch at the time.

In October 2022, a bottle of the 81-year-old was sold by auctioneer Sotheby’s for £300,000 (US$332,266).

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