Selling rare whisky was landlord’s biggest regret

Ivor Campbell wearing his whisky tie and Cuilfail hotelier Simon Fletcher.

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A rare bottle of whisky which sold for a record-breaking £848,000 may once have graced the bar of a Kimelford hotel.

The Macallan Valerio Adami in question was one of just 12 bottles produced by the Macallan distillery in 1926. It is known that one of those bottles was bought by former Cuilfail hotelier David Burrill, who kept it on display for a number of years – first in the bar, then moved to an alarmed cabinet in the whisky lounge on the advice of police.

When The Oban Times spoke to Mr Burrill at the countryside pub he now runs in Ayrshire, he said he sold it ‘years ago’ and added: ‘It’s the biggest regret of my life.’ But he stayed tight-lipped about any other details.

He was so proud of his purchase at the time that he commissioned a number of commemorative ties to give out to loyal locals.

Ivor Campbell, 72, who still lives in the village and still has one of the ties, was one of them, and was working as a barman there at the time.

Mr Campbell said: ‘Mr Burrill announced to his wife he was going Christmas shopping. He set off for the distillery in Speyside but got stuck in snow. It was eight feet deep, so he had to be towed the rest of the way and stayed there the night. When he came back the next day with the whisky, he’d spent the summer’s profits on it. I think it was about £11,000.’

The whisky’s value is not just its vintage but also because of the unique artwork on its label, created by major pop artist Valerio Adami.

It is a simplified version of the label design that appears in a yellow outline on the blue tie.

Another 12 bottles in the batch had labels designed by another artist, Peter Blake.

The bottle sold at Bonham’s whisky sale earlier this month was bought directly from Macallan in 1994.

Only 10 of the Valerio bottles are accounted for. One was believed to have  been opened and consumed while another was thought to have been destroyed during an earthquake in Japan in 2011, according to reports.

Cuilfail Hotel’s current owner, Simon Fletcher, said locals had recognised the lavishly expensive tipple by its label when it hit headlines after the auction.

‘A bottle was previously on display here. It was in the bar for years. Mr Burrill was remembered going down from here to the distillery to buy it in 1994.

‘We’re not sure exactly how much he paid and we’re not sure if it’s the same bottle we had on show here but there’s a good chance it was,’ added Mr Fletcher, who has run the Cuilfail Hotel with wife Yvonne for 10 years.