New research shows glass bottles considered much more sustainable than bag-in-box

At a press conference earlier this month on Wine/Vinexpo Paris, which takes place from 14-16 February next year in the French capital, Wine Intelligence CEO Lulie Halstead revealed a series of key trends taking shape in the drinks industry.

Among these were a set of developments in the alcoholic drinks sector that were accelerated during the recent Covid-era trading period, which Halstead listed under the following headings: moderation, ecommerce, convenience, premiumisation, and home-premise.

Notably, when touching on the issue of sustainability in wine, she said that there had been little change in perceptions during the pandemic, although it had “driven a shift towards localism”.

Considering different areas of sustainability when canvassing wine drinkers around the world, she drew on data to show that organic wine had the “highest opportunity index” among consumers, but this had remained almost identical in 2021 as it had been in 2019.

Meanwhile the idea of “sustainably-produced wine” had actually dropped a little over this two-year Covid-trading period (-2.1), as had the index for Fairtrade (-2.7) and vegan wine (-3.5), while there was small decrease (-0.5) for the idea of carbon neutrality, and a marginal increase (+0.2%) for the concept of “environmentally-friendly wine”.

Summing up, Halstead said, “The evidence says that the consumer momentum towards sustainability in wine has not increased.”

Continuing she said, “Why is this? The key reason is that the consumer already thinks that wine is sustainable.”

She added, “If you talk to consumers, they say, ‘well, wine is natural’; in the consumer’s mind, you squeeze bunches of grapes, put the juice in a barrel and then put it in a bottle.”

So, referring to the issue of promoting organic or ‘natural’ wine, she remarked that the current image of wine “is an opportunity but also bit of a dilemma in wine, because you’ve got a positive sustainable position already, so once you start to layer in and talk about it, then what vibes are you giving your category?”

Looking deeper at the research on sustainability and wine, she pulled up some data to show the percentage of “regular wine drinkers” who agreed with a set of statements, taking in consumers in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, as well as the UK and US.

You can see the results in full below, but notably, in first place, was a 55% agreement that glass bottles are a sustainable form of wine packaging, with, in contrast, bag-in-box achieving just 35%.

It’s a notable outcome bearing in mind a small, but increasingly vocal backlash against the glass bottle among some commentators in the drinks trade, who are pushing for producers to house more wine in lighter formats, above all bag-in-box.

But Halstead’s data showed that such a move would damage wine’s sustainable image. And, reiterating her earlier observation around organic wine, she said, “Consumers are not looking at the wine category and thinking this is unsustainable and not an environmentally-conscious category.”

Continuing, she added, “Whereas they will look at a plastic bag and think that it is not a good thing, they will look at wine in a glass bottle and think that’s ok; it’s recyclable.”

Aware that the topic is contentious, it was pointed out by Anne Burchett, who provides marketing support for Vinexposium, that there will be a conference on wine packaging at Wine Paris dealing with the question, ‘Is the glass bottle dead?’

Ahead of such a debate, which db plans to attend, it should be added that bag-in-box and similar formats, such as the so-called ‘paper wine bottle’, which is made the same way as bag-in-box, but shaped like a bottle, suffer from the fact they incorporate layers of material (metallised film, plastic, card) that are hard to separate – a measure required to recycle them.

It is for this reason that they are considered a less sustainable packaging solution than heavier glass.

Meanwhile, glass offers many advantages, particularly for the wine sector, as it is a material that is virtually inert with a long shelf life, and it’s highly resealable – a particular benefit in the move towards refilling bottles rather than disposing of them.

Furthermore, where virgin raw materials are used to make glass, they are usually sourced locally, and they are plentiful: supplies of sand and limestone are not in short supply.

Glass is also widely and easily recycled – there’s no need for any separation – with over 50% of the material entering the UK waste stream currently recycled (the proportion is higher in the EU), and that’s without it being shipped to distant nations (around 2/3s of the UK’s plastic waste is sent overseas).

Finally, should glass eventually enter landfill, due to its inert nature, it will not give off harmful gases, nor, should it end up in the sea, would it have any negative effect on marine life.

So, rather than looking to promote alternatives to glass, it seems that the issue of raising wine’s sustainable credentials should focus on reducing excessive packaging in the drinks sector, as well as reducing the weight of glass in big-production run products housed in heavy bottles, such as sparkling wines.

Alongside this aim should be further efforts to increase the recycled glass content of wine bottles, and, where possible, encourage the refilling of containers in place of disposal.

As shown below, the Wine Intelligence report did not cover the topic of packaging wine in cans, another alternative that is being promoted as more sustainable than the glass bottle.

However, this increasingly popular solution has drawbacks too, including the creation of Hydrogen sulfide inside the can that can occur from a reaction between the wine and the aluminium wall of the format, should the liquid corrode the can’s plastic lining – an issue Jamie Goode dissected on Wineanorak last month.

Attitudes towards sustainability in wine: a global view

  • Glass wine bottles are a sustainable form of wine packaging – 55%
  • I only trust the sustainability of wines if they have official certification – 43%
  • Wine is a more sustainable product compared with other drinks – 42%
  • Sustainable wine has less chemicals than other wine – 39%
  • I’m willing to pay more for sustainable wine – 37%
  • Wine in a bag-in-box is a sustainable form of wine packaging – 35%
  • I will always buy sustainable wines when given the choice – 33%
  • Sustainable wine is always organically produced – 29%

Rosé’s global success ‘partly based on luck’, says UK buyer

The triumphant march of the rosé category cannot solely be attributed to the marketing genius of its key stakeholders, according to Jeroboamswine director Peter Mitchell MW.

Mitchell told Harpers that: “Sacha Lichine [and others] were undoubtedly instrumental in rosé's success, but there is also an element of luck and timing. Ten years earlier and I do not believe it would not have worked - the generation of drinkers of premium wines at that time would not take rosé seriously and were less likely to be influenced by a trend.”

According to Mitchell, although Sacha Lichine helped rosé to shed its downmarket image, the category's dramatic rise in market share over the past 15 years was a case of “right place, right time”.

He said: “Gen X was a receptive consumer base looking for new trends and didn’t carry the same snobbery about rosé. At a time when an increasing number of people with increasing disposable incomes but little knowledge were coming to wine as a drink of choice, it also helps that rosé is not an intimidating drink and is generally easy to enjoy.”

However, Jeroboams reported that sales of certain brands had fallen during the summer of 2021.

“All rosé has had a small fall off this year compared to last, but bearing in mind the dismal summer we had that is not surprising,” said Mitchell.

“Premium rosé has held up better than the cheaper end and we have sold through most of what we expected to without having to resort to end of season discounting.”

Friends of the Earth, Stroud Brewery & Toast Ale have joined forces.

Sustainable Brewing!

Called Flour Power, the beer uses unsold organic bread from Hobbs House Bakery which would otherwise have gone to waste. It is brewed in Stroud’s organic brewery, where the aim is to “support the environment and reduce their carbon footprint.”

According to an emailed statement, 5% of the proceeds from the beer’s sale will be donated to Friends of the Earth’s climate campaign, which will then be distributed to the charity’s “most urgent needs.”

The drink will be rolled out nationally in Abel & Cole from 9 May.

Flour Power is a “heavily hopped, organic amber ale” which uses Citra and Azacca hops, which the brewer hopes will give it a “fruity finish.”

Mike Birkin, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “With Flour Power we’re aiming for a craft ale that proves that the things we enjoy can be produced in more considerate, sustainable ways.

“The climate change situation can seem dire, but the solutions are out there and some are on display right here with Toast Ale and Stroud Brewery. We hope to see more businesses, including further breweries, respond to the climate emergency.”

Chloe Brooks, production manager of Stroud Brewery, commented: “Stroud Brewery is dedicated to producing great organic beers with production helping to support local farmers and the ecosystems they manage. The organic standards we adhere to support our ambition to be a business that cares for people and planet.”

Stroud brewery, based in Gloucestershire, launched a crowdfunding round last year to raise £300,000 to kit out a new brewery and bar, with investors set to receive a 10% discount on beer purchases during the period of the bond.

Chris Head, collaborations manager at Toast Ale, said: “At Toast Ale, we’re reviving one of the oldest traditions in the world by using surplus bread as a grain for beer. In the UK, (an estimated) 44% of bread is never eaten. We’re on a mission to change that by working in partnership with breweries and bakeries all over the world to create great-tasting beers that are better for the planet.

“We’re incredibly proud to partner with Friends of the Earth to raise awareness of climate change and to support the great work they do. Food production, one-third of which we waste, is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, so they are a powerful ally to our mission.”

Toast Ale, which is stocked in the Co Op, Tesco Express and Waitrose, was launched in January 2016 by Tristram Stuart, founder of food waste charity Feedback, in collaboration with Hackney Brewery. All profits go towards tackling the issue of food waste and the company has given nearly £15,000 of profits to charity.

Friends of the Earth covers 75 countries, with roughly 5,000 local activist groups and over 2 million members and supporters worldwide.

Pinot Noir’s Huge Potential in England

Pinot Noir is now the UK’s most widely planted grape accounting for 31.5% of vines or 803 hectares, according to WinesGB, the trade organisation that represents vineyards in England and Wales, but the majority of the UK’s Pinot Noir crop currently goes towards the production of English sparkling wine. Sparkling wine makes up 68% of all wines produced in the UK (around 4 million bottles), or 52% of all English and Welsh wines sold, but there are no figures currently available to suggest how much Pinot Noir is used for still, as opposed for sparkling production. This is partly because it varies from year-to-year, with producers likely to decide on an ad hoc basis to up their allocation for still wine in a good year.


Cognac exports reached €3.2 billion in 2018

As reported by the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac), this represented the fourth year of consecutive growth for the spirit category, which has rebounded since austerity measures in China hit exports hard from 2013.

With nearly 98% of total production exported, the Cognac appellation continued to grow its export markets in 2018 and witnessed a growth of more than 3% in volume and 2% in value. 204.2 million bottles of cognac were exported in total throughout 2018, resulting in a turnover of €3.2bn.

Exports were driven by the expansion of the NAFTA zone (North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by Canada, the United States and Mexico in January 1994), and growing markets in the Far East.

A total of 90.6 million bottles were exported to NAFTA zones in 2018 (up 5.2% in volume and 0.7% in value), accounting for 44.4% of total exports. Of that total, the US remains Cognac’s largest market, with 87.4 million bottles exported to this market in 2018.

Exports to the Far East reached 60.1 million bottles, accounting for 29.4% of total exports (up 5.6% in volume and 3.7% in value). The biggest markets were China, which imported 24.2 million bottles, and Singapore with 27.2 million bottles.

In contrast, exports to European markets are in decline, down 5.3% in volume and 2.2% in value, with a total of 39.4 million bottles exported. This decline coincides with “difficult political and economic times on the continent,” the BNIC said.

Exports continue to grow in ‘Rest of the World’ markets, which includes South Africa, Vietnam, and the Caribbean, among others, which together saw volumes increase by 10.4% and value by 7.1%. These new areas of opportunity represent more than 6.9% of global volumes or nearly 14.1 million bottles.

By category, VS currently accounts for half of all Cognac shipments, with volumes up by 2.6%, followed by VSOP with nearly 40% of shipments, up by 3.5%. Values were relatively stable, declining by 0.3%.

The older categories currently represent 11.5% of shipments, and recorded volume growth of 7.5% and value growth of 6.3% in 2018.

Looking ahead to the coming year, and back on the 2018 harvest, total volume yields reached 126.8hl/ha, compared with 88.95 hl/ha for the previous harvest, with liquid put into cask between 970 and 980,000hl.

“This level of production would be greater than the region’s original business objectives which had been estimated at 902,000hl put in casks this year, a figure that many trade professionals feared would be too low to meet the demand,” the BNIC said.

“The growth of shipments during the year confirms the forecasts and Patrick Raguenaud, president of the BNIC, who said that ‘Cognac professionals remain confident in the future and continue with their ambition plans to meet the demands of the ever growing export markets’.”

Sir Ian Botham Launches New Wine Range

Sir Ian Botham OBE has officially launched his own range of wines at Lord’s cricket ground.

Speaking to the drinks business just hours ahead of the launch, the English cricketing legend said that the wines were a reflection of his tastes, stressing that he was involved in the sourcing and blending of the new range.

“I hate the term ‘celebrity wine’,” he said, making it clear that this wasn’t a case of just applying a famous name to an existing wine. “Everything I like in wine is in these bottles,” he added.

Sir Ian Botham Chardonnay 2017

The inaugural selection, unveiled in London, comprises varietal Chardonnays, Shirazes and Cabernets across three tiers, all of which hail from Australia.

At the entry-level is the ‘All Rounder’, with a mid-tier range called ‘The Botham Series’, and then, at the top, priced between £35 and £40, is the ‘Sir Ian Botham’ range.

The grapes for the wines come from Adelaide Hills and Margaret River for the Chardonnays, and Barossa and Coonawarra for the Shirazes and Cabernets respectively.

Botham said that the range would be augmented by Pinot Noir from Central Otago in New Zealand, and, in the future, another Pinot from Mornington Peninsula in Australia – having agreed a partnership with Paringa Estate.

He also said that he would like to add a Malbec from Argentina, a red wine from Spain, and an English sparkling, possibly using grapes from a producer in Devon.

There will also be a rosé in the range, which Botham said had to be from Provence to please his wife.

The wines have been developed in partnership with Benchmark Drinks, founded earlier this year by former Accolade Wines CEO Paul Schaafsma.

The Botham All-Rounder and The Botham Series wines will be available on general release in the autumn and in the meantime, they can be pre-ordered with exclusive offers, through www.bothamwines.com. 

Schaafsma said that the top level tier Sir Ian Botham range will initially be available exclusively through Berry Bros & Rudd in the UK.

GVG fined €200,000

One of Bordeaux's leading negociants, Grand Vins de Gironde(GVG), has been fined €200,000 after being found to have falsely labelled very large quantities of wine.

The company was accused of deliberately mislabelling and illegally blending some 600,000 litres of wine worth an estimated €1.2 million between January 2014 and December 2015.

GVG’s former head of purchasing, Eric Marin, was given a suspended fine of €15,000 for his part in the fraud.

The négociant was also ordered to pay €3,000 in damages to the regional body the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux.

Marin claimed during the trial that the scale and pace of production at the company’s cuverie had been too much for him to handle alone, leading to the discrepancies.

He was responsible for a cellar that produced 180 different labels, in 2014 the business had handled 20 million litres, shipping the equivalent of 18,000 cases a day.

There was no suggestion that GVG’s owners, the Castéja family, were aware of the fraud.

Vranken-Pommery Monopole becomes first French Champagne house to sell English wine

The launch of Louis Pommery England Brut, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, marks the first time an English wine has been sold by a French Champagne house.

Available online now from Ocado, the release of the wine follows a production agreement between the French company and Hampshire wine producer Hattingley Valley, which was announced in 2016.

However, Vranken-Pommery Monopole is this year planting a major new vineyard in Alresford, Hampshire, Harpers can reveal.

“The vineyard will represent 32ha of plantings and we will plant the three Champagne varieties. The most planted will be the famous Chardonnay, followed by Pinot Noir and a small part will be Pinot Meunier,” said Julien Lonneux, international development director at Vranken-Pommery Monopole.

Started in October 2017, the plantings would continue until May 2019,” Lonneux told Harpers.

“Our British adventure started back in 2015; when looking at the viticulture development in the UK and the weather conditions becoming milder, we immediately seized the opportunity,” he said.

As well as fresh investment from new producers, existing big producers are expanding production.

Harpers can reveal that English sparkling producer Nyetimber, based in West Sussex and Hampshire, is now expanding into the chalky soil of Kent with plantings of 38ha of vines this year.

Nyetimber now has two sites in Kent, one in Canterbury and one in East Kent near Ashford, with its amount of land in the county totalling 55ha.

In addition, fellow Kent producer, Westwell Wines, has this year embarked on a major expansion.

Westwell Wines’ plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, using Burgundy clones, will start this year with a total of 18.5 acres  (7.48ha) being planted by the end of 2019, Westwell Wines new managing director and winemaker, Adrian Pike, told Harpers.

Pike, who previously worked at Davenport vineyard in Sussex, took over production at Westwell wines in September 2017.

Although the majority of new plantings this year, will be in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, further new vineyards are being planted in Essex, East Anglia, Dorset, Berkshire and in the Midlands.

“The new investments showed serious commitment from producers to English wine,” Brad Greatrix, head winemaker at Nyetimber told Harpers.

Vine plantings in the UK have tripled since 2004 with annual growth rate of between 7% and 10% each year according to English wine consultant, Stephen Skelton MW.

The wave of new vine plantings in the UK comes as industry body, Wine GB predicts plantings will reach at least the same amount as in 2017, when English wine producers announced a million vines planted.

“Investment is coming from several new producers and farmers are diversifying into wine production. We anticipate plantings in 2018 to be equal to or greater than the number of vine plantings made in 2017,” a vine planting industry source said.

“The big producers are expanding to spread the risk of any bad vintages at existing sites. As well as Sussex and Hampshire, there is keen interest in Kent, but also in Essex and East Anglia,” he said, with several producers wcontemplating using the Charmat method of production used in the making of Prosecco.

The expansion of wine production in the UK this year comes as Wines of GB, chaired by Simon Robinson - owner of Hattingley Valley, is poised to announce its new industry strategy focusing on exports and tourism.

This May, Vineyards of Hampshire, a collective of seven English wine producers, will launch the county’s first Wine Tourism Route called ‘Cellar Door Experiences.’

Producers in Hampshire will open their doors to tourists on Fridays and Saturdays on specific dates in the summer and in September., with producers currently drawing up a map for the new wine route, which will allow wine drinkers to taste and purchase wines at vineyards.

Highlighting the expansion of the English wine industry, Wines of GB, is this year hosting its first wine tasting at RHS Lindley Hall, on April 26th, a far larger venue than One Great George Street, where English Wine Producers tastings were previously held.

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Wettest weeks in Champagne

The last two months have been the wettest since Metéo France began to record the country's rainfall in 1959.

While it may not have held the record of the wettest area in France, there has been an abundance of rain in Champagne and both the Aube and Marne departments remain on orange alert, and people are advised to be very attentive and stay away from the water's edge.

The reason for the alert is the flooded state of the Seine (in the Aube) and the Marne rivers. Both rivers burst their banks just before Christmas, and water levels have remained high through January. This has resulted in large-scale flooding in the Bar-sur-Seine and the Vallée de la Marne areas. Winemakers with buildings close to either river have found themselves up till their ankles (or knees) in cold river water.

Champagne Devaux, was forced to close its visitor center (Le Manoir Champagne Devaux) in Bar-sur-Seine. The Manoir, located in a 2-hectare park right next to the Seine, flooded twice in January, with water levels above one meter in parts of the building. Aurélie Neveux, the visitor center manager,confirmed the the Manoir needs extensive renovations, and that the center will remain closed for an undefined period. In the meantime, Champagne Devaux will open a temporary visitor center on its operational site, located a little higher in the village.

Meanwhile in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, close to the Marne, Charles Philipponnat, general manager of Champagne Philipponnat told Wine-Searcher the Champagne House had around 10 cm of water in its cellars. "We have been pumping the cellar around the clock for the last few weeks to prevent it from rising further. This means the Champagne bottles have not been affected." Nevertheless, the water regularly causes electrical short circuits and has made it difficult to use the wine elevators, even permanently damaging one.

Still, Philipponnat recalls that flooding of the Marne is not really that rare, even if you have to go back to 2001 for a similar inundation. Micheline Tarlant, fromChampagne Tarlant adds to this that severe flooding of the Marne happened quite regularly before the Lac du Der-Chantecoq was added to its catchment basin in 1974. The Seine in the Aube has a similar river drainage lake, the Lac d'Orient, put into service in 1966. These lakes generally prevent the rivers from overflowing, however since both lakes are currently filled to the brim, it is likely the region will remain flooded for a while, especially since the lakes are set to release some of the excess water.

Even if many Champagne producers located close to the river have suffered damages from the floods, the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay, which houses millions of champagne bottles in a myriad of cellars, remains unscathed. Christophe Bonnefond, wine operations manager at MCHS, said that the cellars at Champagne Moet and Chandon and Champagne Mercier located at opposite ends of the Avenue de Champagne, remain dry.

The Champagne vineyards have also escaped flood damage. According to the appellation criteria, vineyards are planted on a slope to capture most of the sunlight. With the average gradient being 12 percent, it's highly unlikely that the river water would ever raise high enough to create havoc in the vineyard. Nevertheless, the incessant rain has saturated the soils, and the water table has risen to just under 17 meters in certain areas. If the water tables continue to rise, it is likely that cellar flooding becomes more widespread before the end of the winter.

The soggy and often slippery soil has also slowed down the pruning and tying tasks, especially on steep slopes. Yet the extreme mild winter weather has already caused some vines to weep, indicating the plant is readying itself for budburst. This combination has made many winegrowers extremely apprehensive and irritable, fearing once again severe frost damage later in the season. Fingers crossed this will not happen.

Chapel Down sees excellent harvest 2017 despite Spring frost

The drinks maker saw a 10% rise in grape yield since 2016; second highest yield of fruit to date at the completion of their 2017 harvest on Thursday.

The industry saw a difficult start to the growing season, with a number of English vineyards hit by a frost in late April.

But things began to look up this summer. English wine producers said they were more optimistic about this year’s harvest following a strong heatwave in June.

The hot weather helped to mitigate the damage done to vineyards.

Further reducing the risk of frost damage, Chapel Down sourced grapes 23 vineyards across the south of England including sites in Dorset, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent and Essex.

Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down Group, said that the combination of an early harvest and good weather throughout the Summer months contributed to the larger yield.

“Following a challenging start to the season,” he said, “we enjoyed an excellent flowering season in June and a decent English summer in our vineyards.”

He said that quality was high across all varieties, adding that this year the harvest yielded “some truly exceptional parcels of Chardonnay.”

“With demand continuing to exceed our ability to supply, and the quality of wines continuing to improve, this harvest is further positive news for the Group.”

Chapel Down owns the largest vineyard (115 acres) in Kent, the Kit’s Coty estate on the North Downs, while also sourcing grapes from a further 13 vineyards across the South East of England.

Most expensive dram of Scotch ever sold is a fake

The bottle of 1878 Macallan became the centre of attention a few months ago when a Chinese tourist paid CHF9,999 (£7,700) for a dram of it in a Swiss hotel.

This story alone made headlines but Scotch experts and enthusiasts quickly smelt a rat when pictures of the bottle circulated, with many raising doubts as to its authenticity.

The Waldhaus am See’s manager Sandro Bernasconi, and Scotch whisky consultancy firm Rare Whisky 101 carried out a number of scientific and forensic tests on the bottle and its liquid and have concluded it is indeed a fake.

A sample sent to the University of Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and The History of Art suggested, with a 95% probability, that the liquid had been made between 1970 to 1972, while further tests carried out by Tatlock and Thomson showed the spirit was likely a blend of 60% malt and 40% grain whisky.

RW101 co-founder, David Robertson, commented: “The Waldhaus team have done exactly the right thing by trying to authenticate this whisky. Over the past year, we have been invited by numerous bottle owners and auction houses to assess suspicious bottles. Indeed, we’ve noticed an increasing number of old, rare archive or antique bottles coming to market at auction, and it’s difficult to know how prevalent this problem is.

“We would implore that others in the market do what they can to identify any rogue bottles. The more intelligence we can provide, the greater the chance we have to defeat the fakers and fraudsters who seek to dupe the unsuspecting rare whisky consumer. We’re also working closely with The Macallan brand owner, Edrington, as they start to take a leadership position on fake whisky.”

Bernasconi added: “When it comes to selling our customers some of the world’s rarest and oldest whiskies, we felt it was our duty to ensure that our stock is 100% authentic and the real deal. That’s why we called in RW101. The result has been a big shock to the system, and we are delighted to have repaid our customer in full as a gesture of goodwill.”

As reported on, Scotchwhisky.com at the time a number of whisky experts and enthusiasts pointed out that the bottle is very likely from a run of infamous knock-offs that were produced in Italy some years ago as the Scotch mania began to gather momentum.

A number of remarkably similar bottles were scooped up by The Macallan itself in the early 2000s to bolster its old library stock but subsequent tests revealed the whiskies to be fake with the spirit inside probably no older than 10 years or so.

The possible provenance of the bottle was brought up on one site called Whiskyfun, run by the experienced collector Serge Valentin.

Among the notable ‘tells’ that the bottle might not be all it claims to be is the condition of the label which is too new for such a rarity (fake fine wines often have too-pristine labels as well) and the cork doesn’t look like one that has actually spent over 100 years in a bottle neck.

Another crucial detail is that the label claims that the Speyside malt is guaranteed by “Roderick Kemp, proprietor, Macallan and Talisker Distilleries Ltd.”

Kemp was a giant of the Scotch distilling industry in the mid to late 19th century and owned both The Macallan and Talisker but, importantly, never at the same time.

As Robertson concluded in a statement: “As with any purchase, we would recommend that each buyer does their research, assesses the bottle and its packaging presentation, and where they can afford to do so, send some of the liquid for technical evaluation and/or carbon dating. If you do have a pre-1900’s bottle we suggest it’s worth extracting a sample to prove if it is genuine or not (most likely not).”

Bumper year for English wine.

English wine enjoyed a bumper year in 2016, and it is now £130m industry, a new study shows.

Independent English wine producers saw their turnover rise to a record £132 million last year, a 16 per cent increase on 2015, showing that the industry has enjoyed major growth in recent years, according to Funding Options.

Research by the online business finance firm revealed that wine producers are benefiting from the growing popularity of boutique British alcohol production, including gin and craft beer as well as wine.

Conrad Ford, founder of Funding Options, said: "English wine is going from strength to strength.

"The English wine industry is not only gaining traction amongst domestic consumers, but is now being ranked with wines from traditional white wine-producing countries such as France and Germany."

In May, a wine from Norfolk was named as the best white wine in the world at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Winbirri Vineyards' Bacchus 2015, which sells for £13.95 a bottle, beat off 17,200 other entries to win the Platinum Best in Show, and was given a score of 95 out of 100 by a panel of 200 international experts.

Winbirri is a family-run vineyard, beside Norfolk Broads National Park, that was established in 2007.

At the time, Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “It comes as no surprise to us that an English Bacchus wine has won a major international award. Up until now English Sparkling Wine has been grabbing most of the headlines for its outstanding quality.

"It was only a matter of time before an English still wine showed the world it can also compete with the best.

"The UK climate is ideal for growing the Bacchus grape which is why it has become the favoured grape grown in the majority of UK vineyards making still white wine.

"We believe Bacchus has the potential to do for English wine production what Sauvignon Blanc did for New Zealand.”

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