Rare Whisky Galore Bottle Up For Auction
The bottle of Ballantine's is said to have been recovered from the wreck of SS Politician in the 1950s or 1960s. The ship was wrecked in a storm off the Outer Hebrides, near the island of Eriskay, in 1941. The cargo included 264,000 bottles of whisky. Local islanders, drink-starved by war-time rationing, eagerly retrieved an estimated 24,000 bottles from the Politician's hull. Sadly, local customs officers eventually destroyed the hull to stop the looting. In 1947, Compton Mackenzie dramatized the event in a novel titled "Whisky Galore" and the book was later turned into a movie. The Belfast Telegraph reports that in 1987, eight bottles were retrieved from the wreck, which still lies submerged off the coast of Eriskay, and sold for £4,000. After more extensive salvage efforts in 1989, only 24 more bottles were recovered.
The whisky in this bottle is at the low shoulder and has the remains of a driven cork with a wax seal applied by Bonhams. It is unlabeled but embossed on the base with the Ballantine's name. The auction lot is accompanied by history of the salvage of the bottle and some black and white images of the hull of the wreck and the diver with this bottle. Martin Green, the whisky specialist at Bonhams, Edinburgh said that the bottles don't come on the market often but that the whisky is still quite drinkable. The bottle is estimated at between £1,200 and £1,800.