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World’s Oldest Scotch, Said to be Sipped by Queen Victoria, Up for Auction

From 24 November to 4 December 2023, Whisky Auctioneer will be auctioning 24 bottles of whisky distilled in 1833, believed to be the oldest Scotch whisky discovered to date. 

The whisky was unearthed in a hidden cellar at the 750-year-old Blair Castle in Scotland by Bertie Troughton, the resident trustee at the castle. Bottled in 1841 and rebottled in 1932, the whisky has been authenticated by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre. 

Radiocarbon dating analysis indicated the whisky was distilled from grain grown before 1955 and provided a high probability that the whisky is of early 19th century origin. Further analysis was undertaken by the Scotch Whisky Research Institute in Edinburgh and estimated an ABV of 61.3% for this whisky. 

Joe Wilson in the Blair Castle holding one of the bottles of the Scotch whisky (Source: Whisky Auctioneer)

Commenting on the upcoming auction, Whisky Auctioneer’s head curator Joe Wilson had this to say:

“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."

According to research found in the Blair Castle archives, cellar inventories shows whisky recorded in the castle’s cellar safely in its cask. It just so happens that Queen Victoria had strong connections to Blair Castle and a close friendship with the 6th Duchess of Atholl. In 1844, Queen Victoria and her consort, Prince Albert visited and stayed at Blair Castle. During her three-week stay, the Blair Castle Household Book lists that Whisky was consumed during her visit. Local newspapers at the time reported Queen Victoria’s liking for Atholl Brose - a local drink of whisky with honey.  Consequently, Whisky Auctioneer hypothesises that this same whisky was likely also the same whisky that was shared between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert during their stay.

Whisky specialists that have tasted samples of the soon-to-be-auctioned bottles have described the whisky as similar to older-style pre-1950s Highland malt whiskies that are distillate-driven, with minimal wood influence. Co-founder of Kythe Distillery, Angus MacRaild shared that the whisky “possesses clear textural weight in the mouth, along with a flavour profile that strongly involves medicinal characteristic without any notable or pronounced peat smoke”.

These bottles of whisky will unseat Macallan’s 81 year old whisky for the title of world’s oldest single malt Scotch.




88 Bamboo Editorial Team