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Incredibly rare 19th century Scottish illicit still found in barn set to go up for auction

A Glasgow-based auction house that is better known for selling rare single malt whiskies, is now set to put a tool of the illicit whisky trade centre stage at one of its upcoming auctions.

Published: January 11, 2019
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McTear's Auctioneers are already seeing growing interest in a rare mid-19th Century copper still that was unearthed in a New Galloway barn, ahead of its appearance in the Rare & Fine Whisky Auction on 18th January.

Experts expect the piece, which stands 110cm high, to fetch between £5,000 and £6,000.

Commenting on the unusual lot, McTear’s whisky expert, Graeme Maxwell, said: “This is a fascinating piece that gives a rare insight into the world of illicit distilling in the Victorian era.

Illicit Still

Picture: John Devlin

“Many farmers in the mid-19th Century owned small stills which they could distil their own spirit out of sight from the exciseman.

"Compared to the setups used by modern, commercial legal distilleries, this is a very primitive piece of equipment, which would have produced strong and questionable spirits to be shared among friends and family.”

In addition to the copper still, the auction will include a selection of hugely collectable single malts, including a rare bottle of Black Bowmore 1964 Final Edition which is expected to sell for between £8,000 and £12,000, and a Macallan 1946 Select Reserve 52 years old which could fetch £12,000.

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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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