Authenticated, rare 19th century whisky linking Scotland and America up for auction

A rare bottle of whisky that is scientifically validated to be from the 19th century is set to go up for sale in an online auction. 

Published 20th Dec 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The “Private Stock Old Glenlivet Scotch” bottled circa 1880s through Wood
Pollard Co. of Boston, Massachusetts, USA is thought to be one of the earliest genuine bottles of Scottish whisky ever to be made available in a specialist auction.

It will be put up for auction from 21st December to 7th January by Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer ( and is expected to fetch over £10,000.

Bottles of whisky from the 19th century – an era when commercial bottling of whisky was still in its infancy - are extremely rare.

To ensure validity of lots being sold, Whisky Auctioneer has a robust counterfeit policy.

To validate this bottle in particular, Whisky Auctioneer authenticated provenance, consulted external experts and undertook scientific verification to confirm the
authenticity of the age.

The more recent provenance of the bottle is through a wine merchant who had acquired the bottle directly from the private collection of the grandson of one of the original founders of Wood Pollard Co. in Boston.

Experts including whisky consultant, writer and expert, Angus MacRaild and Rare
Whisky 101’s Andy Simpson also worked in partnership with Whisky Auctioneer to help with authentication.

In addition, a carbon dating test was carried out by specialist Gordon Cook at the
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) indicating that the liquid dates from between 1809 and 1900.

With its links to Wood Pollard Co. and Boston, this is a very rare bottle of Scottish whisky from the pre-Prohibition era in America.

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Alexander Wood – one of the founders of Wood Pollard Co. – emigrated from Kelso, Scotland to North America in the mid-1800’s, eventually ending up in Boston where, in business with Marshall Pollard, they sold cigars, groceries, coffee and, of course, spirits.

Not only did they bring in spirits such as Scotch whisky, but they had numerous brands of American whiskey, rye and gin.

Iain McClune, managing director at Whisky Auctioneer, said: “Bottles like this do not come to auction very often. The rarity, the historical significance and the links between the whisky and spirits industry in Scotland and America will fascinate not only whisky collectors and connoisseurs, but also those keen to own a piece of Scottish-American history.

"We certainly expect to see a lot of transatlantic interest in particular.

"To validate the bottle, we checked provenance, undertook authentication with whisky experts including Angus MacRaild and Andy Simpson, and commissioned scientific analysis and testing with the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in Glasgow.”

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Angus MacRaild added: “Having thoroughly examined all elements of this c1880s bottle of Old Glenlivet Whisky, I am confident in its authenticity. There is nothing about the bottle which, in my experience, alludes to tampering or forgery of any kind.

"I have a high degree of professional confidence that it is a genuine bottle of Scotch Whisky from the late 19th century.”

• READ MORE: Rare whiskies worth over £600,000 exposed as fakes, as new tests lift the lid on secondary whisky market

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Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.
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