The story of the other Yellow Submarine
This is a small story on why I have picked my current cover photo on my Scotty’s Drams Facebook page.
The series of whisky known as WMD that The Yellow Submarine is part of, started due to the USA spying on Bruichladdich distillery around the time of the Iraq War and the investigation into Weapons of Mass Destruction. This provoked a clever marketing strategy and a bottling of a 19 year old spirit, only this time WMD stood for Whisky of Mass Distinction.
It is quite appropriate to use the WMD tag, as after a good session, I do feel as though my brain had been subjected to chemical warfare.
WMD II came about after another interesting story. It’s better to read it straight from the horses mouth.
These remotely controlled submersibles (ROV’s) were used by the Royal Navy to plant explosive charges beside mines as a way of neutralising them. One of my work colleagues worked on them in the Navy, and my day job is working on larger and more capable ROV variants in the Oil and Gas industry to build oilfields. Quite a few followers of my FB page are also in the same branch of the oil industry as me.
the devil is in the detail
If you look closely at the tins, you may notice only one has an official tin, the others have no yellow submarine on, and the edition label is from a hand held labeller. This is because they were from the first batch. I never noticed this when I bought them at auction, as they were bought as drinkers. It goes to show to pay attention as these would be the ones worth more in the future.
It is part of the legend that when the submarine was first found, the MD of Bruichladdich, Mark Reynier, took the opportunity to possibly name a future whisky as WMD II – the Yellow Submarine. He had some labels hastily designed and printed, then stored away. So hastily, that the word whisky is missing from the label, which is a legal requirement. Some months later, when the Royal Navy did turn up to collect their equipment, Mr Reynier is supposed to have grabbed a few bottles of an untitled spirit, slapped on the labels, and Dymo printed the tins, and took a load down to HMS Blyth when it called to Islay so it could collect the errant submarine.
Until the bottles started appearing on the distillery shop shelves, the labelling error wasn’t noticed (or so it is said). It is hard to say how many 1st run were labelled this way. As far as I know there were three batches of 4000 bottles – in total 12000 WMD II were produced with much of the final run reported to going to the Submarine manufacturer. I’d imagine most have been drunk. This is quite a rare error to see on a label, so if you have one of these, it’s the whisky equivalent of a hens tooth. Some of the original bottles were relabelled, legend being some bottles already sold were returned by locals for relabelling. There’s no way of telling if the bottle is one of these or one of the original Royal Navy bottles, but still a great legend and a proper collectable.
In 2018, there was a 25 year old release of the last barrels, which had lain to one side in the warehouses and forgotten about. Only 1991 bottles of this spirit were produced and titled WMD III – The Legend Resurfaces. In the current Bruichladdich style, they are opaque, but bright yellow.
Current prices at auction (2019)
WMD I – 19 year old £400 – £700 (440 bottles)
WMD II – 14 year old £175- £400 (12000 bottles)
WMD III – 25 year old £330 – £600 (1991 bottles)
It is a special dram, and having only tried the WMD II, I can tell you that it’s a very smooth, unpeated Bruicladdich, worth every penny. I’ll do a taste review of this dram eventually, but thought for now followers of my FB page may be interested about the tale of the Yellow Submarine.
Unlike the Beatles, this is a whisky that is definitely not over rated.
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