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I'm hoping you can give advice on how best to find someone who would appreciate having it more than me.
It is an unopened bottle with a hand painted label marked "Sherriffs Old Islay Whiskey". I will be happy to send a picture to any interested if the one below fails to appear
The untouched lead seal is stamped "Sherriffs Old Islay Glasgow"
The label is signed "JB Sherriffs" at the bottom
It is a clear glass, machined bottles
I believe it is from the Lochindaal Distillery, Port Charlotte, Islay. JB Sherriff was proprietor 1855-1895 followed by J.B. Sherriff and Co. Ltd. until 1921. The distillery closed in 1929 but is now planned to be reopened by the Bruichladdich company.
I would estimate that with the hand-painted signed label but machined bottle, it is probably from the middle of the 1855-95 period ie ~ 1875
There is an identical second bottle but the label has fallen off. I recall seeing that label about 25 years ago in my parents house but have not yet been able to find it. I will keep looking but it could easily have been misplaced during moves to smaller houses, old-age homes, etc.
I am in Canada but assume that I would be best to seek a buyer in the British Isles. However I know little of such whiskeys or of those who collect them. I would appreciate any comments you would be kind enough to offer.
Contact Bonhams or McTears auctioneers for a valuation. A quick google should find them.
If so, without question it needs to be sold at a specialist whisky sale.
Martin Green at Bonhams at Edinburgh ... It will cost GBP40 to send from Canada.
what is worth ........ GBP1000 to GBP1500
If you can find out more about the bottle (ie history of who distilled etc) you could probably quintruple that figure
What does the stamp on the capsule look like?
Are there any printer's marks on the body label?
What is the animal like creature behind the Sherriff's body label? (note that the family spelling is SHERRIFF) Lochindaal's Sherriff connection was 1855 to 1895 and the Bowmore link was from 1925
and what is the significance of the XXO neck label? I have only seen such labels on brandy/cognac bottles
Why would a late nineteenth century whisky want to be described (in the late nineteenth century) as an OLD Islay whisky?
Such a lot of questions!!
I suppose I had hoped that someone would simply recognize the bottle and perhaps they yet will but meanwhile:
The stamp says SHERRIFFS in raised letters across the middle with OLD ISLAY in an arc across the top and GLASGOW in an arc across the bottom
It appears to me that the label may have been printed or stenciled, signed JB Sherriffs in a script at the bottom and then hand painted in a translucent gold and a blue enamel. It also appears hand-cut.
The "animal-like creature" is two sheaves of, I assume, barley with the one in the foreground having some sort of loop around the stalks with a handle pointing downward
The motto reads Esse Quam Videri
The phallic thing below is just plain odd
I have no answers for your other questions but hope others may. I'll try to get a clearer picture for those interested
Sincere thanks to all for your information and advice
Esse quam videri is a Latin phrase meaning "To be, rather than to seem".
and yes it is used by the Sherriff Family on their coat of arms. However this does not guarantee authenticity.
The use of Old was very common place in Irish Whiskey in these times. However old then is not what we would associate to old now. Back in the day young whisk(e)y was the norm so a 7yo whisk(e)y and older was considered old.
As mentioned XXO might seem like a cognac marking and probably stands for extra extra old.
The Plot Thickens:
I have now been over the label and bottle under 6x magnification and found some interesting things:
1) on the bottom of the bottle are the letters CS&Co Ld as well as 181 or 78L
2) As noted previously, the cap reads SHERRIFF'S across with OLD ISLAY on the upper curve and GLASGOW around the bottom. Outside of those are small letters: PATENT APSCIE (?) across the upper and BETTS MAKER LONDON across the lower
3) In going over the label, I have found some barely discernable printing in black in the dark blue sections. On either side of the central phallic object are TRADE and MARK while between OLD ISLAY and WHISKEY is the word BLENDED. Under WHISKEY it reads Registered in Stanurges Hall. (not sure about the n)
Why Glasgow on the cap? Why is the signature JB Sherriffs and not JB Sherriff? It seems possible that this was a bit of an early 1900s scam: canny Scots feeding the North American whiskey market. Any thoughts??
. . .Hague
If you could reply to this post that would be brilliant
Thanks, Justin Sherriff.
All sorts of speculative prices have been suggested though the agreement seems to be that you don't know what they are worth until offered at a specialty auction. So suggest a fair price and help me get them to you.
Easier correspondence at email@example.com
Sorry for the late reply.
At this stage I am still "window shopping" of sorts, although I am still very keen on getting my hands on a bottle for my father. I will need to do some research on how much a bottle this old would cost and will need to investigate more into how to tell the authenticity of a bottle this age. As you may understand I am not sure how long it will take me to gather this information, so please bear with me as is could take some time. If you happen to find some one else interested, obviously don't hold onto it for me.
I will reply again on this post when I have some more information.
Thanks again, Justin Sherriff
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