Highlands & Islands

Bottles from wreck that inspired Whisky Galore auctioned

SS Politician whisky bottles
Image caption The bottles were among eight recovered from the SS Politician wreck in 1987

Two rare bottles salvaged from the shipwreck that inspired the book and film Whisky Galore are being auctioned.

The collectors' items were part of the cargo on the 8,000-tonne SS Politician, which sank off the shores of Eriskay, in the outer Hebrides, in 1941.

The incident inspired Compton Mackenzie's book Whisky Galore and an Ealing comedy of the same name.

Glasgow auction website, Scotch Whisky Auctions, will take bids for the bottles until 5 May.

The SS Politician was headed for Jamaica when it ran aground on the northern side of Eriskay in bad weather.

Islanders recovered hundreds of cases of whisky from the wreck and some of the bottles were buried to keep them hidden from customs officers.

Other bottles have since been found washed up on the island's shores and also recovered by divers.

The two being auctioned are among eight bottles that were recovered in 1987 when Donald MacPhee, from South Uist, explored the wreck.

Mr MacPhee sold his find at auction at Christie's for a total of £4,000.

Two of those bottles were bought by a man in Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire. He recently died and his widow decided to sell them along with the neck tags from Christie's and letters of authentication.

The whisky is thought to be not fit for consumption, however, Scotch Whisky Auctions' director Bill Mackintosh said their story was likely to attract bids.

He said: "Everybody loves the idea of the wily islanders diving to the bottom of the wreck and coming back up with bottles of whisky which they would then hide from the customs.

Image caption Eriskay's links with the SS Polly and Whisky Galore are still celebrated

"This lot of two bottles is incredibly scarce and provides a rare opportunity to obtain a real piece of Scottish history."

The shipwreck continues to inspire groups and individuals today.

A musical of Whisky Galore was performed at the Festival Theatre in Pitlochry while on Barra a festival celebrating the events of the 1940s were staged four years ago.

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