First I tried putting a bottle in the oven at 175F for ~5 minutes. With 4 of the bottles, the labee peeled right off with no difficulty:
Laphroaig 10 & QC
Old Weller Antique 107
The other bottles used a different type of adhesive which heat alone didn't help with. I tried steaming a couple of other bottles, but that wasn't effective either. So the remainder I soaked in hot water.
Macallan 12 came off on it's own in the water.
I didn't have a razor blade, so I used a knife to gently slide the label off the bottle with the others:
Highland Park 12
Powers Gold Label
The most difficult were:
Johnnie Walker Black
These might have worked better if I'd used hotter water or soaked longer, but I got them off with minimal tearing anyway. In the case of the JW label, the glue didn't seem to weaken at all, so I ended up tearing the front of the paper off the backing.
In most cases I imagine a bottler will use the same paper and adhesive type for all expressions from a distillery, but I listed the specific bottle I was working with in case there are differences.
If anyone has a better approach than I've used, or had success with specific bottles, I'd love to hear it.
Before discovering whisky, I drank wine frequently, and also saved those labels. The vast majority came off easily with the oven method above. It seems a little odd that so many whisky bottles use a different adhesive. I was primarily drinking N. and S. American wines, though, so that may have something to do with it (ie. different glue favored over here).
These days, though, I find my tiny digital camera or my flat-bed scanner far easier to use and far better suited to acquiring a pristine and highly detailed image of those labels - while still on the bottle, no less!
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