Old & Rare Whisky Show – Glasgow 2018

Category: Whisky Tastings

Last weekend the Whisky-Online Auctions team headed to Glasgow for the second Old &
Rare Whisky Show in Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel, and it was another cracking event.
The team for the weekend was headed by Harrison Ormerod from Whisky-Online, ably
assisted by spirits trainer Tim Roberts and whisky writer Tim Forbes.

The format for the Show was much the same as the previous year, with visitors buying
whichever drams they fancied in 1cl measures that started at just £1 and went up to £200 a dram. Along with the long session times – the Show was open for 6 hours each day – these small measures mean that visitors could take their time and savour many more different drams at cheaper prices than larger measures would allow. We’re big fans of this system, although the long hours meant there were a few sore feet amongst the exhibitors at the end.

The real stars of the Show, of course, were the whiskies – and what amazing drams we had on offer for the lucky punters. The jewel in the crown of our stand was the legendary Queen’s Visit Port Ellen 12 year old, an incredibly rare whisky bottled in 1980 when Her Majesty popped over to Islay to inspect the Port Ellen Maltings.

The whisky for this bottling was drawn from two casks dating from 1967 (the year the
distillery reopened after a 37 year silence), and only a very small number of bottles were
produced, to be given to the Queen’s retinue, local dignitaries and some senior distillery staff on the day of the visit. This Port Ellen is famous for its colossal 99-point score from
Whiskyfun and that reputation ensured a stampede to the Whisky-Online stand as soon as the Show’s doors opened. Over the course of the event almost the entire bottle was sold at £200 per 1cl – a lot of money for a dram, but a bargain considering the bottle’s £12,000+ valuation.

Another standout dram at the Whisky-Online stand was the Brora 1972 Rare Malts 22 year old. This is another whisky with a massive reputation, and it wasn’t hard to see why. Bottled at 61.1% but very approachable nonetheless with a gloriously farmyardy aroma, hints of custard and condensed milk balanced with ashy phenols and wet turf. We only had half a bottle of this one left, and at a very fair £100 per nip (considering the £7,100 recent auction price) the bottle was finished long before the end of the Show – as was the Black Bowmore 2nd Release at the same price.

Of course, the Show wasn’t just about very expensive whiskies, and our stand had a lot of outstanding drams at very affordable prices. As well as the recent Tomatin 36 year old, which flew out at just £5 a dram, we had quite a few very reasonable official Macallans, with the 1982 18 year old available at £10 and the 1973 18 year old at just £15. These made a fascinating comparison with the 25 year old Macallan Anniversary 1965 (£25) and the wonderful 1980s Macallan 25yo decanter (£50).

Talisker was well-represented too, with a dark, earthy 1972 Berry Bros bottling and the classic grassy, smoky 1970s 8 year old both hugely popular at £10 a dram. The word-of- mouth hit of the show for us, though, was the 1955 50 year old Secret Stills bottling of Talisker by Gordon & Macphail. We were practically giving away this sherry monster at just £25 a nip – several punters came back for second helpings – and there might have been a few envious glances from Gordon & Macphail themselves, who had the stand next door…

Blends are always great value at our auctions, and our show offering reflected that as well, with a 1955-bottled White Horse and a Black And White from 1941 wowing the lucky visitors at only £10 each. It’s great to be able to share these historic whiskies with appreciative whisky fans, and the Show stood out for its relaxed atmosphere, no matter how busy the stand got.

We like to bring a few esoteric drams to the Show as well – it’s fun to show people bottles they’ve never even seen before. This year we had two versions of 1960s Four Bells Demerara Rum, one bottled before Guyana’s independence in 1966, the other soon after (and many thanks to former El Dorado ambassador Stefanie Holt for the info!). These dark, sweet, raisiny rums had strikingly different characters but were both delicious.

On the whisky side, some highly discerning connoisseurs were delighted with our massively smoky Caperdonich 5 year old at £10 a nip, and a few clued-up punters spotted our half-bottle of Ben Nevis 1977 bottled by Cadenhead’s in 1991. This was a very austere, but beautiful, whisky at a massive cask strength of 62% – and at just £3 for 1cl, we reckon it was one of the best bargains at the Show.

The event was a great success once again, and everyone on the Whisky-Online stand enjoyed it immensely, as did the hundreds of lucky whisky fans who flocked to try our delicious whiskies! Full credit to the Show’s organisers and we hope to see them again next year.

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