Second attempt to find buyer for bottle of whisky from S.S Politician - the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore

There is a second chance to own a piece of whisky history as a bottle from the S.S Politician shipwreck has gone back on sale.

Published 10th Aug 2020
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

A bottle of whisky, which came from the cargo of the S.S Politician - the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore - is back on sale.

The ship, which sank off Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides in 1941, inspired the book and subsequent two films - Whisky Galore.

Now a bottle of whisky from the S.S Politician cargo is back on sale, alongside a poster of the film's remake and a diving helmet and bricks from the ship.

"A very exciting and rare bottling"

But for those looking to enjoy a dram from the historic bottle, sellers, The Grand Whisky Auction, have a warning - it's not suitable for consumption.

Despite this, the lot has attracted interest and currently has a bid of £6000 - with the sale ending in the evening of 10 August.

Posting on their website, the team at The Grand Whisky Auction said: "A very exciting and rare bottling where you have a chance to own a piece of whisky history! The bottle comes from one of the most famous shipwrecks in history, the S.S Politician.

"The salvage operation by divers, islanders, and the efforts of custom and excise officials to frustrate this, inspired the novel Whisky Galore. This was adapted for cinema in 1949 and again in 2016.

"The bottle was recovered by diver George Currie, director of Currie Brothers Limited and can be seen in the picture bottom left. While working on a subsea cable repair from South Uist - Eriskay, the team located the wreck.

"George said: "As you can see with the smile on our faces, it was a great days diving".

"Everyone in the whisky world is well aware of the significance of the SS Politician, which is why its story has been adapted for cinema twice. The whisky onboard ranged from Gilbey’s, Ballantine’s, VAT 69 and more."

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This isn't the first time that the bottle has been put up for sale. In July this year it was up for auction but failed to reach its reserve of £9000.

Back in 2013 two bottles, which were among eight recovered from the wreckage in 1987,  sold for £12,050 at an online auction.

The S.S Politician was en-route to Jamaica and New Orleans on 5 February 1941 when it crashed off Eriskay, unleashing 28,000 cases of whisky, several barrels of bank notes - and a story that has endured to this day.

Hundreds of cases were successfully removed from the ship at a time or wartime rationing with some crofters reportedly burying the bottles and sowing oats over the top to conceal the cargo.

On August 11, 1941, The Scotsman ran a story under the headline “Whisky from Wreck - Secret That Could Not Be Kept.”

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The local operation to seize the ship’s bounty - and the cat and mouse game between islanders and authorities - became the stuff of screen and stage following Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 novel, Whisky Galore.

The film was subject to a remake in 2016 and starred Eddie Izzard and Gregor Fisher.

How to bid

To find out more about the whisky and make a bid, visit its listing on The Grand Whisky Auction here.

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Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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