It’s called the engulfed scotch. And that’s practically a category in itself: the whiskey rescued from the cargoes of a wrecked ship, lying for untold times under the tides. Every few years, stories of dark alcohol from these depths grab the headlines, while the liquor itself is auctioned off. The final example is the scotch salvaged from perhaps the most famous wreck of the modern era. And he is expected to earn up to $ 20,000 in an ongoing auction now live, online.
The bottle in question was recovered from the wreckage of the SS politician. The ill-fated ship ran aground during WWII and was at the center of a nationwide firestorm soon after. En route to Jamaica, via western Scotland, the freighter was carrying some 28,000 cases of whiskey when it sank on rocks along the rugged banks of the Outer Hebrides.
After official rescue attempts ceased, neighboring islanders made their pick on the politician’s coveted content. Although the British government viewed these actions as theft, the locals saw it quite differently. According to contemporary reports, a widespread effort among Hebridean communities has been called the “whiskey rescue”. This led to a protracted battle between the accused scallops and tax collectors from mainland Scotland and, ultimately, London. As no duty had been paid on the whiskey, members of HM Customs and Excise ultimately sued anyone who proved to have lifted the cargo from the ship.
One local in particular helped immortalize these hijinks, garnering international attention. Compton Mackenzie of the Isle of Barra sensationalized the circumstances as the background for a novel titled Whiskey galore. Published in 1947, it was adapted into a fairly popular British comedy of the same name two years later. A remake debuted at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2016.
But the bottle currently on sale at Grand whiskey auction the house is not part of this controversial booty. He was raised by George Currie over fifty years later. The deep sea repairman was working on an undersea cable off the Hebridean coast when he struck the dirt. With a team of divers, they were able to recover a TVA 69, Ballantine’s and four bottles of a now defunct brand known as Gibbey’s.
In 2013, a pair of similarly aged SS Politician whiskeys sold together for £ 12,050.
What does this particular offer taste like? Well, that would be impossible to guess. There is no labeling of any kind on the glass. You won’t even get a chance to know where it was made or a rough approximation of its age, let alone the tasting notes.
Remember: whiskey does not age in the bottle. So the 80 or so years he spent underwater does not add up to his overall age. If this whiskey was distilled in 1930, for example, then bottled before its famous trip in 1941, it is still an expression of 13 years.
Nonetheless, the liquid carries a beautiful burgundy color beyond the shoulders of the bottle. An airtight wax top and high fill level suggests that there has been little oxidation here. As a result, a sip of this spirit is likely to be pretty close to how it tasted almost 80 years ago.
If you are hesitant to buy, this might convince you to take the plunge: the lot comes with a diving helmet, bricks of the real SS politician. and an original movie poster for the 2016 Whiskey galore remake, which currently holds a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Hopefully the whiskey has aged better than the movie it helped inspire.