Kettering man's neat collection of whisky could fetch £35,000 at auction

He's collected 4,000 miniatures - despite not even liking drinking whisky!

By Sam Wildman
Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 4:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 4:32 pm
Brian Marshall
Brian Marshall

A Kettering man who has collected 4,000 whisky miniatures was flabbergasted when he was told they could fetch £35,000 at auction.

Brian Marshall doesn't even like drinking the spirit, but began amassing small bottles of it in the 1980s after a friend who worked at the town's crematorium, who was collecting full-sized versions, suggested it.

Over three decades he carefully curated enough miniatures to fill 130 boxes - almost exclusively Scotch - sourced from as far afield as America, Iraq, Uruguay and Australia.

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Brian Marshall

Now the lot will go under the hammer in two auctions by Gildings Auctioneers in Market Harborough - but Brian was stunned when he was told how much it was worth.

He said: “I never had any aim in mind. I thought it all might be worth about £8,000 at the most, so I was flabbergasted when I heard it might fetch up to £35,000.

"But when my mates asked why I collect whisky miniatures when I don’t even like the taste, I used to say, ‘well you buy cigarettes and at the end of the week all you have is a pile of ash, but I have my beautiful bottles to look at’.”

The collection will be auctioned without reserve in two timed online auctions. The first auction, which closes at 6pm on November 14, is online now. The second auction will go live on November 26 and close at 6pm on December 12.

Some of the whisky

Most of the bottles are from the 1980s and 1990s because distilleries stopped making as many miniatures after that. The last bottle Brian bought was at the Falkirk Wheel about five years ago.

Standout lots in part one of the auction include presentation packs issued by Signatory Vintage of 1966 vintage whiskies, such as Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Macallan. There is also an extensive collection of The Whisky Connoisseur series and specialist bottlings from Gordon & MacPhail and Cadenhead’s.

Part two includes Brian’s unique collection of 120 bottlings of Ballantine’s whisky - each with a different label from around the globe and across the decades. There are also some treasures from the great powerhouses in whisky, such as a miniature bottle of Macallan 1961 commemorating Private Eye magazine’s 35th anniversary estimated at £200 to £300 and a suite of bottlings from the Mini Bottle Club UK, of which Brian was a long-standing member.

Gildings’ director and wine, whisky and spirits specialist Will Gilding said: “We are very much looking forward to auctioning Brian's incredible collection.

“With the fantastic gems on offer, connoisseurs and those looking for the perfect stocking filler for the whisky drinker in their life can be grateful that Brian’s passion lies in collecting rather than tasting whisky. Due to the sheer volume of the collection and the rare examples within it, we anticipate it will make between £25,000 and £35,000 over the course of the two auctions.”

Brian's decision to sell is motivated by nothing more than the need to clear some space.

Until he decided to auction his collection, it was stored in his double garage where a narrow pathway separated it from his model railway collection.

He struggled to part with a few items - including the 120 bottles of Ballantine’s - and has kept just a Rutherford’s Rolls Royce themed one and a set with every player from the 1968 Manchester United European Cup winning team.

Brian added: “I don’t even like the stuff, but it took on a life of its own because I started planning my holidays in Scotland around it.

"It’s an era that’s gone, but there used to be so many great whisky shops up there."