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Rare Glenfiddich whiskey fetches £44,000 at WWTW Charity Auction

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Published 19 February 2012

‘’Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink” wrote Harumi Murakami in his book, ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’.

This time around though, there would only be appreciation – and no drinking. For a single, very special bottle of the golden liquor was the main attraction at an exclusive whiskey auction at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) last Friday. The tipple, an extremely rare single malt whiskey distilled by Glenfiddich, was on offer for the highest bidder – all in aid of Walking with the Wounded (WWTW).

The event, held in in the glamorous and regal surroundings of the Long Room at the HAC, saw ex-military servicemen, whiskey connoisseurs and excited auction-goers mingling as they sipped on champagne and Glenfiddich whiskey (so there was some drinking!), waiting in anticipation for what would hopefully be a record breaking night.

The whiskey up for grabs was a 55-year old bottle of Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts Reserve. According to event organisers, Threepipe: ‘Only eleven bottles of this 55 year old single malt Scotch whiskey will ever be released to the public in honour of Janet Sheed Roberts, who at 110 years old is the oldest living person in Scotland and granddaughter of William Grant – founder of the Glenfiddich distillery.’ The eleven bottles released mark each decade of Roberts’ life so far.

Admittedly, as a person only just beginning to try out alcoholic beverages, details about the ‘notes of the whiskey’ washed happily over my head. The lead blender, Peter Gordon, assured bidders of its unrivalled, light taste. In a display cabinet to the front of the Long Room, rested the bottle in all its beauty. The whiskey itself was an unusual, golden, pale straw-coloured affair. With regards to the bottle, the bottle stopper was hand pressed with Janet Robert’s initials, monogrammed in gold on an aquamarine Cloissonne medallion. To top it all off, the whiskey was accompanied by a ‘luxurious leather box… complete with Scottish deer horn toggle and lined with a bespoke silk.’ The box, supposedly, was inspired by one of Janet Sheed Roberts’ leather travel trunks.

Before the auction began in earnest, Edward Parker, one of the founders of Walking with the Wounded (a charity dedicated to the retraining and re-education of injured servicemen and women and beneficiary of the event), gave a talk about the reasons for founding the charity and the great work that they do. This was followed by a video for WWTW’s next expedition to Mount Everest, which you can watch here. Finally, there was an inspiring talk from Private Jaco Van Gass. Van Gass spoke of his journey into military life, the ordeal of his injuries sustained whilst on the frontline, and the process of getting onto the expedition after he joined WWTW. The most enjoyable part of the night for me, personally, was being able to chat to the wounded ex-servicemen that work with WWTW. Being able to meet some of the team was an absolute privilege. Each one of them spoke openly of their traumatic injuries, and their perseverance, determination, courage and pride (to be defending their country) was evident and amazing. I would go so far to say that they were some of the most inspiring people I have ever met.

Running a bit later than scheduled, the auction started with great suspense. Leading the proceedings, Christie’s auctioneer James Bruce-Gardyne started the auction at £20,000. With one of the eleven bottles selling for a record-shattering £46,852 last year, the entire audience egged on the bidders present (and on the phone) to continue parting with their cash. In the end, the bottle sold for £44,000 to a telephone bidder, just a couple of grand short of the previous record set. However, it was still a great result for the charity.

For more information on Walking with the Wounded, visit www.walkingwiththewounded.org.uk