Thursday 23 February 2012

A Warning about Whisky Auctions

Luc Timmermans (one of the Malt Maniacs) bought some lots at the McTear's auction held on 7th December. Luc was unable to attend the auction himself, but bid online. His comments are detailed below.

At their 7 December 2011 Whiskysales a few interesting lots pulled my attention and I decided to buy them. I was able to buy many interesting lots amongst which were LOTS number 695, 751 and 864. Here the details of the LOTS as described on the McTear's website including their respective pictures.

The description is clear, the photo's crystal clear. Nothing wrong right ? As you can clearly see, nothing wrong besides a little low filling level of one bottle. But the picture clearly showed the bottles are in a very good condition and very well sealed and the description is clear.

But here the real pictures of 3 bottles taken by my good friend who went to McTears to collect the lots.......

Yes, they are OPEN !! Yes they are OPEN !!

A few bottles were simply opened ?? Either by the auction house and or the previous owner. But this without any mention on the website and in the corresponding LOT description. At first I was very positive for the outcome....McTear's is a well reputated auction house, is it not ? They would of course settle this, no ?

So very big was my surprise to get this mail from Mr. Stephen McGinty - the auction house Whisky expert :


"Dear Mr Timmermans,

I refer to the above and to your recent e-mail and I can confirm that I have reviewed the information provided.

Following my enquiries I can confirm that all bottles are entered into the auction on the basis of “sold as seen”. As such all bottles where the seal has been broken we will be unable to offer any refund for. We would be happy to enter the bottles into a future auction on your behalf. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Yours sincerely

Lisa Mitchell (on behalf of Stephen)


How sad is this ??

So, be warned. The auction business gets by this by the legal term caveat emptor, let the buyer beware. This is not the first time I have encountered such an issue and McTear's are not the only auction house to operate in this manner, many fake/faulty bottles of whisky/wine/cognac/etc. pass through the major auction houses on an almost daily basis.

I agree that the auction house staff should NOT allow such bottles to be entered into an auction. Watch out and examine carefully anything you are considering bidding on.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Another Quite a Week

Was supposed to be forming part of a panel at the MacRobert Centre on Friday evening as a part of Take One Action's film festival ( which the Co-operative is sponsoring. The film was to have been Even The Rain (, but the film didn't arrive at the MacRobert, so the evening was cancelled.
On the Saturday at Ashfield Village Hall, just to the north of Dunblane, the film was There Once Was An Island ( and this film had arrived. Ashfield Village Hall serves a community of about 30 homes and has amazing facilities for such a small community. The film shows how global warming has impacted into the life of these remote islanders and how the sea level rising has caused half of the islanders on this low lying atoll to leave. We are left in no doubt that the remaining islanders will either have to leave or die.
There was a panel discussion afterwards, with myself, a woman from Christian Aid and a chap from SCIAF. They were showing another film in the evening, viewing of There Once Was An Island had started at 4.00 p.m., but I was unable to stay for that - domestic commitments.
I played a dozen holes of golf on Monday morning! First time on the course for about 8 months because of the poisoned foot and the bad weather. First thre holes were abysmal, ball going everywhere, but as I got into it, I improved. Finished with a par 3 on the winter 18th, which is the summer 18th at Braehead Golf Course.
My wife siffered pleurisy a few weks ago and went down with tonsilitis last week. She went in on Monday morning, but only managed a half day, exhausted. he had Tuesday off. I, meanwhile, had Week 6 of the whisky course - Marketing & Brand Devbelopment. Once again, i talked too much - my students seem to enjoy my course, as you can see from the photo - and it was 9.15 before I finally got out of the college.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Quite a week

As a part of my voluntary work, I was promoting Zero Waste Scotland at Forth Valley College's Alloa campus last Wednesday (8th), explaining to people how they could cut down on the amount of food they send to landfill. We had quite a throughput over the course of the 3 hours I was there. I am always amazed, when talking to people about food preparation, how they do not think of saving themselves fairly large amounts of money over the course of a year by cooking from scratch, freezing in 2 or 3 serving batches and not buying over-priced ready meals.
On Thursday 9th I attended the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives launch at the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood. I was quite surprise at the VERY good attendance. The evening was spoiled by the address to the attendees by John Swinney MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth. He was poor, gave the impression that he was out of his depth and there was a definitely hostile, or at least support deficit feeling from those he was addressing.
On Saturday (11th) the meeting of the Co-op's Scotland & Northern Ireland Values & Principles committee. I'm really getting in to this which, with my political past is very surprising, but there is too much inequality nowadays not to get involved. there probably was when I was young as well, it was just that I was unaware of it.
Scotland were beaten by Wales on Sunday. Yet another Scottish try dissallowed! that's two this 6 Nations already.
Monday (13th), in my role as a Community Councillor, was handing out monies to local organisations which are doing good works in the area. Much of thsi should come from central or local government, but as Holrood has frozen council tax for the past 4 years, these organisations need funding from wherever they can get it.
Whisky course, week 5 - History from 1850 to the present. This group of students is 100% whisky drinkers for a change. In previous years, the class has consisted of up to 90% trade - either whisky shop, bar, restaurant or hotel owners and their staffs. This spring, of the 19 enrolled on the course, one is half of and the remaining 18 are just whisky lovers. Now tat we are into the 5th week, they have much more confidence in their own abilities and understanding relative to whisky.
It's fun.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Scotch Whisky Trail Week 4

Week 4 is History to 1850 and in previous years, I haven't had a Powerpoint preentation for this, relying only on the handout I create which has the most important relevant dates between 1494 & 1850. This year, I created a wee presentation with details of the Rev. Mr. Robert Moodie in the Statistical Account of Clackmannan, 1799. What? You don't know what he said? Well, you will just have to enrol on my course and find out, won't you?
The sharp eyed amongst you might notice my "deliberate" error in the presentation - the subject of the evening was History to 1850 and the slide on the screen says "History to 1825". I chnaged it before the class started.
Whiskies this week: Highland Park 12, Old Pulteney 12, Aberlour 10, GlenDronach 12, Bowmore 12, Bowmore 15 and Ardbeg 10. Great line up, all demonstrating varied, different and quite impressive aspects of whisky flavour.
The students are starting to get objective about the whiskies; this is the part of the course where they start to suggest flavours/aromas I have missed in my comments as their confidence builds. In future weeks, I have less work to do and they become be more than happy to put in their opinions.
Rather stupidly, I took my camera into the college to photograph the students at work - and forgot. Took the pic of the bottles, forgot to photograph the students. Will remember next week. I hope!

Saturday 4 February 2012

Highland Park Thor

HP are putting out regular limited edition bottlings and the most recent of these, the Valhalla Collection, was presaged by a week of small parcels containing runes and cryptic clues along the lines of:
"Few are chosen to drink with the gods. Open this pouch with bravery in your heart.
The secrets of the runes will be revealed as four days pass and you will be rewarded for your valour."
"Lightning strikes. He is amongst us. The earth trembles as it yields to his hammer. Only the brave remain."
Finally at the end of it all, a larger parcel with a sample of THOR.
To quote from their press release, "Thor represents the first coming for Highland Park's stunning Valhalla Collection; a range of unique whiskies, released annually, taking inspiration from the legendary Nordic gods of old. Not for the faint hearted, only those brave enough to accept the challenge of Thor shall be rewarded with the ultimate experience; a whisky of divine power."
The packaging is pretty impressive, echoing the "fearsome contours of a traditional Viking long ship".
It is also a pretty impressive whisky, with more obvious peat than HP's usual.
see my tasting note at
With Scotland's recent focus on a referendum towards independence from England, is this a case of Highland Park leading the Orkney bid for independence from Scotland?

Friday 3 February 2012

Scotch Whisky Trail

I must remember to take my camera next week. Tuesday was week 3 - Maturation - and most enjoyable from my angle as well. The class is supposed to start at 6.30 pm. and finish at 8.30 p.m. I regularly over-run and we get chucked out of the building by the janitor at 9.00 p.m. because he wants to go home.
Tuesday was am good example of this, I spoke for too long and, after pushing everyone out of the door, finally left the college at ten past nine. Must become more time focussed - and keep in the janitor's good books!
This week, the students tasted 8 whiskies demonstrating the effects of wood on the spirits: Auchentoshan Three Wood (tasted Auchie 10 in week 1), Glenmorangie Lasanta (tasted Glenmorangie Original in week 1), Glenlivet 12 and Glenlivet 15, Macallan 12 Fine Oak (Tasted Macallan 10 Sherry in week 1), Glenfarclas 10, Glenfaclas 15 and Laphroaig Quarter Cask (tasted Laphroaig 10 in week 1.