The most interesting part of a whisky bottle is usually its contents.
But, as I revealed in my last epistle, a bottle has a whole netherworld that no-one really notices.
Last time I wrote I talked about the variety of corks and stoppers. Now I’m turning attention to the markings at the other end of the bottle.
Before checking the markings on the base of your whisky bottle, check that the cork or stopper is firmly in at the top!
No good story ever started with “We were eating drinking this tea …”
This story started recently when we were consuming a few drams to celebrate my son’s 21st birthday. As it does in these situations, the talk turned to the bottom of whisky bottles.
We became a bit fixated with what the confusing array of markings on the bottom may reveal.
This was quickly followed by some remarkably ill-informed discussion (read “guesses”) as everyone gave their theories on what the markings meant.
The thing about good whisky is that it allows – nay, encourages – the mind loose to dwell on trivial things that quickly can take on a life of their own.
The Search Begins
A day or so after the birthday bash Uncle Google and I started on a few hours of research. I was looking to see if I could find out what the markings meant. The initial searches led mostly to unhelpful American sites – no assistance at all with British bottles markings
My bottle of choice was the Benriach 21 year old tawny port finish we had opened for the birthday. I found in my research was that Benriach had changed bottle suppliers since Brown Forman had bought the distillery!
My bottle, however, was from the earlier time when Billy Walker had owned Benriach.
The bottle had the following marks embossed on the bottom: LI, 2414, 700ml. 63mm, 05 and a reverse Epsilon mark.
After many web searches I arrived at the UK Government’s services and information site. There is a sub-site that has a lot of info about bottle marks, including all the UK codes for glass bottle manufacturers.
Aha, the Enigma code was tottering, if not completely broken.
Allied Glass Containers Ltd
L1 is the code for bottle manufacturers Allied Glass Containers Ltd, located in Leeds, Yorkshire.
in a highly efficient 24 hours a day environment, Allied has the ability to produce 13 million glass containers every week.
The reverse Epsilon symbol is the European Economic Community mark for conformity. Post-Brexit, new bottles sold outside the EEC will have UKCA on them instead.
On the Allied Glass Containers Ltd web site I discovered that 2414 was the project code allocated to their 750ml round Whisky shaped bottle.
700ml is the internal volume when filled to the neck plus an air gap, and 63mm is the internal diameter of the bottle.
The underscored 05 was the last piece in the puzzle.
To dig into this a bit further, I checked a few more bottles in my cabinet.
I found bottles from the same manufacturer but with different shapes and used by other distilleries. Each different bottle had its own project code, but with the same 05 number.
It seems that the 05 identifies a specific production line.
in a highly efficient 24 hours a day environment, Allied has the ability to produce 13 million glass containers every week. With 16 production lines over two sites it is extremely important to be able to identify if issues occur on any line without having to shut down the entireprocess.
Note that the production line on this photo is underscore 19 (in the bullseye of the photo), from a different production line to the bottle discussed above. The batch number is different, too.
The Allied website is a cool site if you want glass. All sizes and shapes are there, with their own project codes and details. If you have a whisky bottle made by Allied and want all the information on it, enjoy the anorak moment.
This is the bottom of a Glenmorangie Spios bottle. The Allied Glass site indicates that they make for Glenmorangie (the clue is a photo of a Glenmorangie bottle on their site). However, the markings in this photograph (at about 7 o’clock) show that the bottle was made by Ardagh Glass Portland – I suspect is Portland, OR, US of A, although it’s hard to tell.
Icons of Whisky awards 2022
From the Whisky Magazine are some of the Icons of Whisky (Scotland) awards for 2022:
Distiller of the Year: The Glenturret Distillery
Sustainable Distillery of the Year: Glengoyne Distillery
Visitor Attraction of the Year: The GlenAllachie Distillery
And for Ireland:
Distiller of the Year: Waterford Distillery
Sustainable Distillery of the Year: Teeling Whiskey Distillery
Visitor Attraction of the Year: Jameson Distillery Bow Street
All regional winners now go forward to be considered for the global titles in 2022.