The founder of The Whisky Exchange is selling his collection of rare and old whisky miniature bottles. The collection will be sold as part of the quarterly miniatures and memorabilia auction at, live until Tuesday 24 August.
Sukhinder Singh, who founded the global whisky retailer with his brother Rajbir in 1999, is putting four hundred miniatures up for sale. Most are single malt or blended Scotch, including an extremely rare 1940s Glenfiddich Special with box.
Also going under the hammer will be the only known example of a miniature bottled by Gordon & Macphail, a 1930s Glen Grant believed to be the first miniature they ever bottled. There are also a hundred old blended scotch whiskies, mostly bottled in the 1930s and 1940s, originally purchased from David Maund, chairman of the UK miniature bottle club.
“I am keeping back one hundred which I can’t bring myself to part with,” says Singh. “Like a Glenmorangie bottled between 1900-1910. Only ten were made. Also the only known example of a Lagavulin bottled around 1900.
“I’m going to create a cabinet and display one of each mini from a different distillery. I can’t remember the first bottle that started my collecting but I had a Campbeltown and a Springbank from 1919. I went to see a friend in California who dealt in collectable toys. In his warehouse we opened a box which contained an old Dalmore from the 1930s. The most I have paid for a miniature is £2,000.
“I went to a bar in London that has some minis on display. I saw two extremely rare mini bottle of Cardhu that I had never seen before. I couldn’t believe it. The owner said if I donated to charity I could have them.”
By the early 2000s Singh had amassed 5,000 different whisky miniatures, eventually selling them to concentrate on old and rare bottles of malt. “There are two types of people who buy them, the collector and the drinker. Miniature collecting has been going on since miniatures began back in the early 1900s. In the early years I remember buying a number of collections from people who had been collecting for over 40 years. What I do like about miniatures is that large collections are easier to display. Each miniature tells a story of the liquid and the distillery.
“Over the last five or so years as prices for bottles of the rarer single malts have increased, more people are looking at miniatures of the same so they can open them and try the liquid. In some cases, the miniatures seem to work out cheaper by the measure than buying a large bottle.
“At one point some 20 years ago, I thought collecting would die out as it was difficult and costly to find miniatures from around the world. Then, as the internet became more popular, it was much easier to find fellow enthusiasts and new miniatures. Over the last 10 years, the hobby has grown considerably and prices for rarer miniatures now fetch thousands of pounds.
“Some of the bottles are really rare, so the auction team hasn’t given an estimate for what they will sell for as it’s really hard to tell.”