Brand ambassadors gather together unique whisky collection to auction off for charity

Brand ambassadors from around Scotland have gathered together to donate a range of unique whisky bottlings to an auction to raise much-needed funds for a licensed trade charity.

Published 19th Jul 2018
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The brainchild of Craig Johnstone and Andy Bell, the Ambassadors' Collection will be auctioned off by, with the proceeds being to donated The Scottish Licensed Trade Benevolent Society - a charity which offers financial, social and emotional support to people working in the licensed trade.

So far, 27 bottles have been provided by ambassadorial teams from whisky companies not just here in Scotland, but also from around the world, with a further three bottles being donated from the auction site's own collection to take the final number up to 30.

The unique set features a range of special bottlings including a Glenlivet from 1969, a Kilchoman 10th Anniversary signed by distillery owner Anthony Wills, a Port Charlotte 2001 Feis Ile 2018 signed by Alan Logan and Adam Hannett (Production Manager and Head Distiller), a Lark Classic Cask signed by Bill Lark (Founder) and an Old Particular Mortlach 13-year-old signed by chairman Fred Laing.

Ambassadors' Collection
Part of the collection. Picture: Sean Murphy

They even have a very special bottle created for them by the ever popular Springbank - the one-off 11-year-old Ambassadors' Collection Bottle.

The auction is live now and can be viewed here.

Craig Johnstone, who is the brand ambassador for GlenDronach, Glengassaugh and BenRiach, said: “At the 2017 Interwhisky Festival, Andy and I spoke with a number of fellow brand ambassadors about our annual festive get-together and thought it would be a great idea to bring the industry together with a charity auction.

"The remit was simple, bring a bottle with a unique story to the party and we will try to raise some cash for the BEN Society. Expecting a handful of bottles that we could auction as a single lot, we were overwhelmed by the response from the Ambassador population at home and abroad.

"As of today we have 30 bottles for auction, two of which were sent from our friends in Tasmania, and we may receive more lots before the hammer date is set.

"My personal picks are the Belgrove Rye and Lark Classic Cask from Tasmania, both signed by their distillery founders. These products are simply not available in the UK. They are produced in such small volumes, that they are not exported, but the quality is up there with the best of them. I’m intrigued to see what they will fetch in this hemisphere.

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"I also have to give a huge shout out to Springbank for their one of a kind bottling for the Ambassadors’ Collection. An 11-year-old single cask bottle labelled exclusively for the Ambassadors Collection makes this the rarest bottle in the auction.”

Sales Manager for Arran Distillery, Andy Bell, explained that the ironic fact that a group of people who spend so much time together in other countries around the world at events and tastings but never see each other in their home country spurred him on to try and create a yearly get together.

He said: “In 2014 my colleague Lucie and I decided to arrange an event in Edinburgh to get all of these guys and girls together in one room for a drink at Christmas time once most people’s work-related travel was out of the way for the year.

"Since then we have alternated the event between Glasgow and Edinburgh and last year, in its fourth year we had more people attending than ever.

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"Last year Craig suggested we might be able to use the event to do something very worthwhile and the idea for the Ambassadors' Collection was born. We asked everyone to bring along a bottle and they did not disappoint!”

Buoyed by the success and sheer volume of the donations, Andy explained that the pair can't wait to see how much money the collection can raise towards "such a great cause".

He said: “We think the Ambassadors Collection is perfectly representative of the whisky industry – we all delight in our product and want as many people as possible to taste some incredible things.

"The way that we can all unite in a common goal, in this case raising a bit of money for a great cause, reflects the way that the whisky industry works together as a whole to raise the profile of Scotch worldwide. We encourage people to get involved with the auction, supercharge their whisky cabinet and do a little bit for a great cause”

Chris Gardner, chief executive of the Ben Society, said: “We at The BEN appreciate all the hard work it has taken to put this auction together and the generosity of the people who have donated these superb products in aid of the charity.”

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To see some of the lots and keep up to date with the auction, they can be found on Facebook. Simply search for The Ambassadors’ Collection.

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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