Edinburgh (Global Adventures): A rare bottle of Ballantine’s whisky salvaged from the SS Politician shipwreck is set to be sold at an auction in Edinburgh. The SS Politician, also known as “Whisky Galore”, left Liverpool on February 3, 1941 for New Orleans via Kingston, Jamaica. The 8,000-ton cargo ship did carry a precious load of 28,000 cases of malt whisky.
During a storm, the vessel did run aground two days later near the Island of Eriskay off the western coast of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides. Due to rationing during WWII, the islanders did feel deprived of their national drink. It did not take long for the news to get around. The locals took the opportunity and looted much of the cargo.
To the locals,
The rules of salvage meant that once the bounty was in the sea, it was theirs to rescue. However, customs officer Charles McColl disagreed. He mobilized the police and caught plenty of locals red-handed. Since he was unable to stop the looting, he decided to blow up the remains of the ship. While hundreds of bystanders watched the preparations, an islander named Angus John Campbell summed up their feelings: “Dynamiting whisky. You wouldn’t think there’d be men in the world as crazy as that!”
The story of the shipwreck inspired the Compton Mackenzie’s 1947 novel “Whisky Galore” which was made into a Comedy film in 1949. Two additional books by Arthur Swinson and Roger Hutchinson titled “Scotch on the rocks: The true story behind Whisky Galore” and “Polly: The true story behind Whisky Galore” were published later.
divers from around the world continue to volunteer and salvage what remains of the precious cargo. In 1987, Donald MacPhee recovered eight bottles of whisky from the wreck. Auctioned them off through Christies’ for 4,000 British Pound ($6,109). Churchill Baron Financial Services of Glasgow incorporated the salvage company SS Politician plc in 1989. After spending 400,000 British Pounds ($610,900) and moving hundreds of tons of debris and sand on the ocean floor.
The latest bottle of history laden Ballantine’s whisky now recovered from the shipwreck is expected to sell for 1,200 to 1,800 British Pounds ($1,833 to $2,750) August 18, 2010.
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