Rare Scotch miniature sells at auction for £4000

A record £4000 has been paid for what a miniature of Old Orkney – in what is believed to be the most expensive whisky miniature ever sold at auction.

Bottled in the 1920s or 1930s, the single 5cl miniature of Old Orkney ‘0.0.’ Real Liqueur Whisky from the long closed Stromness Distillery was featured in an online auction dedicated to miniatures that included some of the rarest miniatures to ever have been made available to the public.

This exceptionally rare whisky scarcely appears at auction and was part of a collection of 84 miniatures from one seller who had paid £100 for the whole lot at an auction in Brighton on 1979. The collection was predominantly blended Scotch whiskies and single malts bottled in the first half of the 20th century.

It wasn’t until the seller contacted Whisky.Auction to ask if some of his minis would be of interest to bidders that he realised how rare and valuable they were.

The seller, who asked not to be identified, said: ‘I thought they were worth something but had no idea.

‘I started collecting in 1979. I worked with a friend and we were talking about hobbies, he said that he collected Scotch whisky miniatures. I thought that was something different so I had a go and was hooked. I was lucky to find an auction that had a collection. I didn’t know what was in it so I bid £100 and they phoned me the next day to say I had won it.”’

Auction director for Whisky.Auction, Isabel Graham-Yooll, said: ‘As soon as this auction went live last week, there were some very keen bidders for this rare mini, but even we have been wide-eyed watching this one, seeing the bids gradually creep up over the course of the auction. This is the perfect illustration of the interest that exists in old and rare whisky. Much of the liquid we see coming to auction in miniatures is simply unavailable in full bottles, having been consumed many years before. Miniatures often outlive their full-size counterparts in “souvenir’” style.’

Stromness Distillery was located on the south-western part of mainland Orkney and operated between 1817 and 1928. When whisky historian Alfred Barnard visited in the 1880s, he remarked that it was ‘the most remote distillery in the Kingdom’ producing ‘Highland Malt’, and the output was just 7000 gallons per year (at the time, neighbouring Highland Park produced 50,000 gallons per year).

The whisky was sold as Man O’ Hoy, after one of the island’s landmarks, and was renamed Old Orkney when the distillery was reopened in 1878 by the MacPherson brothers.

In the early 1900s, Stromness was acquired by J & J McConnell Ltd (McConnell’s Distillery Limited) who operated the distillery until its closure in 1928. From there it was owned for a time by Booths Distilleries and was demolished in the 1940s.

Whisky.Auction believe this miniature was bottled in the 1920s or 1930s, and as a result, is exceptionally rare and scarcely appears at auction.

Whisky.Auction is an auction website that offers the finest whiskies from all around the world. Based in London, and set up by some of the leading experts in the industry, the company offers sector-leading advice as and when it’s needed, and aims to provide the best online auction platform for whiskies, fine spirits, miniatures and memorabilia in the world.