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Most exclusive Scotch whiskies are auctioned

Rising global sales, rising value of stocks, rising production and record investment in production might normally be seen as the hallmarks of a 'sunrise' industry, but the charity auction about to be held in the City of London will showcase the extraordinary longevity, history, luxury and provenance as well as the sheer entrepreneurship of the founding fathers of one of UK PLC’s greatest exports.

Thursday 17th October will witness one of the most exclusive Scotch Whisky auctions ever seen. Hosted by the Worshipful Company of Distillers, one of the Livery Companies within the City of London who can trace its history back to 1638, they have brought together more than 50 stunning lots. All donated by members of the Livery, leading Scotch Whisky companies and private individuals from within the industry, and led by this year’s Master, Brian Morrison (with over 45 years in the Scotch Whisky industry), the evening will see collectors and investors from around the world travel to London to attend the auction in Apothecaries Hall in Blackfriars.

The evening will be presented by Sir Jackie Stewart and the auction led by Christie’s international director of wine, David Elswood, and is targeting to raise in excess of £100,000 for The Benevolent Society and alcohol related youth education charities.

Scotch whisky rises

Scotch Whisky exports grew in the first six months of 2013 as the industry continued to lead the way for the UK's food and drink sector and export-led recovery. Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association show the value of exports increased by 11% to almost £2 billion in the first six months of the year. Some 563 million bottles of Scotch Whisky were exported between January and June, up 9% on the same period in 2012.

The US remains the biggest market by value, increasing by 29% to £391m in the first half of the year. It was followed by France which saw exports grow by 6% to £199m and Singapore which jumped by 19% to £174m. Direct exports to Poland reached £20m and are almost 10 times the level in 2004 when the country acceded to the European Union. Exports to South Africa rose by 19% to £65m making it the seventh biggest overseas market for Scotch Whisky.

Whisky veterans find “Cash in the attic” in aid of charity

Three whisky veterans have raided their personal collections to bolster the auction and in an extraordinary twist, two whiskies from the 1930’s, a Mortlach and a Glenfiddich, donated by separate individuals have a remarkable association. Mortlach & Glenfiddich Distillery are both located in the little town of Dufftown in Speyside, and the little known fact that the founder of Glenfiddich Distillery William Grant worked at Mortlach Distillery for 20 years before realising his dream and creating Glenfiddich Distillery completes the link.

The provenance of the Glenfiddich is impeccable as it has been donated by one of the founders descendants David Grant and the Mortlach is donated by Michael Thomson, himself former managing director of Peter Thomson, whisky bottlers and blenders in the City of Perth.

The Master of The Worshipful Company of Distillers has added to the extraordinary list by donating four bottles of 1956 Bowmore from The Island of Islay from his own collection. These are believed to be the first Scotch Whiskies ever to carry a vintage year rather than an age statement.

Major corporate players donate 'one-offs' showcasing the luxury and exclusivity of the category

Luxury packaging and stylish consumers are a world away from some of the history of the category but in today’s world they are as much a part of Scotch as the distilleries from where the Whiskies are produced. The auction will feature a number of one-off products created just for the evening:

Bowmore have created a one-off hand blown bottle of 1964 as have Whyte and McKay, owners of The Dalmore. Prices of both are likely to be upwards of £10,000 each.

Diageo have weighed in with a Glenury Royal 50 years old as well as a complete set of The Johnnie Walker blends, never before seen in public.

Edrington have pulled out the stops with a 1946 Macallan.

Collectively the industry has assembled over 70 lots of the rarest whiskies on the planet to raise money for charity.

In a statement earlier today the organising committee commented: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity of our industry and cannot thank them enough. It is imperative that as wide an audience as possible is aware of that generosity as well as the opportunity that exists to bid for these amazing lots”

Brian Morrison, Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers, said: “The distillers have a long history of charitable giving along with all our friends from within the industry. This, however, is by far our most ambitious project to date. We are all really looking forward to what will be an unrepeatable auction!”

Entry to the auction is only by purchase of the catalogue which costs £100, available from the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ office, with a digital catalogue available on request for absentee and telephone bids.

For further information and tickets (£100 per ticket) contact Kenny Mackay:

About The Worshipful Company of Distillers

Founded in 1638 the Worshipful Company of Distillers, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, today remains at the hub of the distilling industry providing support and funds to city and industry based charities. This year’s Master is W Brian Morrison, past chairman of Morrison Bowmore Distillers (owners of Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch distilleries), current chairman of the Scottish Liqueur Centre and a Master of The Keepers of the Quaich.

11 October 2013 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor