A rare bottle of whisky from the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore is expected to be sold tomorrow for at least £10,000.
The bottle, salvaged from the wreck of the SS Politician, which ran aground off the tiny Hebridean island of Eriskay in 1941, is being sold in an online auction of rare and expensive whiskies.
But the buyers might be unaware the wreck and looting of the ship would never have happened but for a campaign run during the Second World War by this newspaper.
In 1940, Luftwaffe planes began bombing British cities. In one raid, they hit bonded whisky warehouses in Leith, causing a massive blaze.
The Sunday Post, under editor John Martin, mounted the “blue light campaign”, to force the government to have whisky moved out of warehouses in heavily populated areas in Leith and Glasgow. The campaign was successful and thousands of cases of whisky were removed from city centres and loaded onto ships to be taken across the Atlantic to safety.
In early February 1941, the cargo vessel SS Politician set off from Liverpool, one hold full of 22,000 cases of whisky – some 264,000 bottles. The ship was heading for the north of Scotland to join a transatlantic convoy bound for the US and Caribbean. However, the vessel got no further than the Outer Hebrides when it ran aground on rocks between Eriskay and South Uist on a wild night on February 4.
Islanders were quickly on the scene and hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles were “liberated” from the wreck. Many were cached in locations on the islands of South Uist, Eriskay and Barra.
Many of the islanders were prosecuted for theft, and 19 spent short terms in Inverness Prison, though most charged were found not guilty or not proven at trial.
Author Compton Mackenzie, who lived on the neighbouring island of Barra, wrote his comic novel Whisky Galore based on the event. The book was later turned into a successful film in 1949, with a remake in 2016.
Today the bottles are highly sought after by collectors. The bottle now being sold by The Grand Whisky Auction was recovered from the wreck by diver George Currie. He and his team found it while repairing a subsea cable.
The unlabelled bottle for sale has a wax seal, which has kept the contents intact and is being sold with a diving helmet, some bricks found in the hold of the ship, and a poster from the 2016 film. The auction ends tomorrow but seven years ago, another bottle from the wreck sold for more than £12,000.
Enjoy the convenience of having The Sunday Post delivered as a digital ePaper straight to your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Subscribe for only £5.49 a month and enjoy all the benefits of the printed paper as a digital replica.Subscribe