Tag Archives: 1982

Bell’s Decanters: Prince William’s birth (1982) and Queen’s 60th birthday (1986)

Bought: Whisky Auction, 24th May 2017

Birth of Prince William, 1982:
82/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Birthday 1986:
Not rated yet but listed on Whiskybase here.

Bell’s Decanters have arrived in my collection and the men in white coats are coming to take me away. Did I just go insane? But no whisky collection would be complete without one, even if the majority of people consider them to be a bit naff. This is probably why they don’t make much money at auction. I paid £11 for Prince William and £18 for the Queen’s 60th. Empty bottles sell for a similar price on Ebay. It seems weird to say they’re “yesterday’s antique” when they only appeared in the 1980s. Perhaps one day their value will bounce back but there seems to be a lot of them about. It’s time to buy them all up and smash them! Let’s reduce the numbers. I’m sure the royal family won’t mind.

The Bell’s decanter first appeared in the 1920s when it was made from blue glass and designed in a more traditional decanter shape. By the late 1930s the bottle began to take on a more bell-like appearance and was made from porcelain. By the 1950s Royal Doulton, a famous British porcelain manufacturer began making the Bell’s decanter in the brown and gold design seen in Ralfy’s video below. By 1960 Stode had taken over production and then in 1966 it was Wade of Stoke. The Christmas decanters (often seen at auction) began life in 1988, which is also the year the decanters started containing ‘Bell’s Extra Special Blended Scotch Whisky’. Prior to that it wasn’t extra special at all!

Both my examples are royal commemorative decanters, which Bell’s first produced for the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981. This was also the first time that white porcelain had been used and all the stock sold out in a matter of months. Given this fact it’s hardly surprising that Bell’s decided to continue the royal theme with a second decanter release in 1982 for the birthday of Prince William. A 3rd release in 1984 commemorated the birth of Prince Harry and a 4th and 5th release in 1986 marked Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday and the wedding of Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson. Since then Bell’s have done several more regal releases.

I’ve heard Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com) describe himself as eccentric many times but he always comes across as being quite normal. Nevertheless he sometimes shows eccentricity with his purchases and he’s currently the only person I can find that’s done a review of a Bell’s decanter on YouTube. Here’s Ralfy’s decanter advice from October 2012:

North Port-Brechin 1982-2008 (G&M)

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 11th March 2016

87/100 – Whiskybase (average from 6 member votes)
83/100 – Malt Maniacs (from one maniac score)

How important is a name? Would people remember the legend of Pelé so well if he’d been called Keith? Or Elvis if he’d been called Clive? North Port distillery is a case in point because you have to wonder if it would linger longer in the imagination with a more interesting name. It started life as ‘North Port’ in 1820 but changed to ‘Brechin’ in 1823. Then Glencaddam opened in Brechin in 1825, so to avoid confusion it’s likely that Brechin distillery reverted back to its old name of North Port. Whisky production ceased a few times in the 1900s before the distillery permanently closed in 1983 along with numerous other distilleries.

It seems independent bottlers Gordon & MacPhail (G&M) decided to cover both bases with this bottling and called it ‘North Port-Brechin’. Scoring 87/100 on Whiskybase is an excellent score and a review can be found here on ‘Alcohol and Aphorisms’. After two independent releases in 2008, Malt Madness stated that old stock from North Port was running out. According to Whiskybase only two new releases have appeared since then – one in 2010 by G&M and a second in 2015 by Cadenhead (a 38yo, which is still available from Whisky Barrel for £800!).

For tasting notes and comment here are the thoughts from Drinkwell off license, UK (where it originally retailed for £95):

Nose: Soft and finely balanced; almonds and mint and freshly cut grass. Fruit and wood. Cider apple, damson plums, honey. Dark chocolate.

Palate: Oily. Black chocolate. Bitter. Sour fruitiness. The spices and biting alcohol is even more enhanced with with water. Wood dominates maltiness. Reminiscent of a rye whiskey.

Finish: Robust, warm, biting. Lots of age; some cocoa notes. Toasty and dry. Lingers quite well.

Comment: Lovely calming oak influence. The nose is very impressive. Of interest to collectors, historians and the likes of me, but this Brechin brew, staunched in 1983 is as good as it gets.

North Port-Brechin 1982 NAS 70cl

Linlithgow 1982 17-year-old

Bought: Whisky Mouse, 4th November 2015

80.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 2 member votes)

Linlithgow distillery (aka St Magdelane) started life in the Scottish lowlands town of Linlithgow in 1798. It moved to a nearby site in 1834. This location had previously been occupied by the St Magdelane hospital, which provided the new name for the distillery. Nevertheless, to this day both names are used for whisky produced at the distillery, which unfortunately closed in 1983. On Whiskybase there are 106 bottles listed under the name of St Magdelane and 70 for Linlithgow.

Apparently blind tasting Linlithgow / St Magdelane can be quite confusing even for the most experienced whisky drinker. Said to have high complexity, smokiness and even peat, there can also be sweetness reminiscent of Macallan. It’s hard to pin down as a lowlander and not likely to be confused with Auchentoshan or Glenkinchie.

80.5/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable mark but it’s only from 2 member votes. Bottles are highly collectable and could well be a good investment. The neck level in my Linlithgow is excellent when you consider it was bottled in 2000, 16 years ago. No sign of evaporation suggests a very good seal. Long may that continue!

Here’s a short video from You Tube showing the distillery as it is today, transformed into flats but retaining the original pagodas:

Linlithgow 1982 17yo 70cl