Museum acquires 80-year-old bottle of whisky from famous shipwreck

The bottle, from the 1923 SS Politician which ran aground off Eriskay in 1941, will become part of the Scottish Maritime Museum’s collection.

Woman and whisky
Woman and whisky

A museum has been successful in its bid for an 80-year-old bottle of whisky which was salvaged from a famous Scottish shipwreck that inspired the Whisky Galore! novel and film.

The unlabelled bottle, from the 1923 SS Politician which ran aground off Eriskay in 1941, will become part of the Scottish Maritime Museum’s collection thanks to support from the National Fund for Acquisitions.

It was one of 264,000 bottles stowed on board the wartime cargo vessel that was recovered by George Currie in June 1987 – and is now believed to be undrinkable.

The bottle of whisky will initially go on show in the boatshop exhibition space – at the Linthouse Building in Irvine, Ayrshire – where it will be free to view.

It will then feature in a “Smuggling and Swashbuckling” exhibition in 2023.

Abigail McIntyre, senior curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, said: “We are thrilled to add this bottle of whisky which has become so imbedded in Scottish island folklore to the collection.

“There are so many fascinating topics we can explore with our visitors through it, from island life during the war period and underwater archaeology and recovery through to challenging our understanding and portrayal of smuggling in Scottish waters.

“The wreck of the SS Politician had a profound effect on the life of the islanders of Eriskay, many of whom felt keenly the injustice of being prosecuted.

“As well as looking at the impact of the shipwreck generally, we will also explore maritime laws and their implications through this wonderful new artefact.”

The auction lot acquired by the museum also includes a diving helmet worn by Mr Currie when he recovered the bottle, two bricks being carried as cargo on the vessel, and a poster from the 2016 remake of Whisky Galore! which starred Eddie Izzard, Gregor Fisher and James Cosmo.

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