By Alexander Lawrie
THE WORLD’S largest whisky collection has returned home to Scotland.
Over 3000 bottles of Scotland’s national drink – many of them unique – have been collected by a Brazilian collector over the past 35 years.
The rare collection is to go on permanent display at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh in March 2009.
And the huge assortment of whisky has been confirmed as the world’s largest by the Guinness Book of Records.
Brazilian whisky enthusiast Claive Vidiz began collecting the record-breaking collection in 1973 after he was given a few rare bottles as presents.
A specially designed vault has been being created at the Scotch Whisky Experience to display the enormous collection.
The vault is part of a £2million investment at the five-star tourist attraction on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
Although the 3384 bottles have been snapped up by drinks giant Diageo for an undisclosed sum, experts are describing the collection as “invaluable”.
After months of preparation, the fragile cargo was shipped across the Atlantic after each bottle was individually packaged by fine art specialists.
Mr Vidiz, 73, said: “I started collecting the bottles when I worked for a pharmaceutical company in Sao Paulo. Every time I met directors of various companies they would give me a bottle and the collection just started getting bigger.
“I’m extremely proud of my whisky collection as it means so much to me. And, I’m so grateful that I have come to an agreement with Diageo to keep the collection together.
“Of course, it’s also a bonus that the collection is coming back to where all the bottles began their lives. We have an expression in Brazil – ‘the good son returns home’ – and in my view the collection is back with its family now.”
Among the many rare bottles is a Strathmill single malt produced to celebrate the Speyside distillery’s 100th anniversary.
One of only 100 bottles ever produced, the limited edition centenary malt was only offered to a select few – including various heads of state.
And a personal favourite of Mr Vidiz is Dimple Pinch, one of the first special editions of a Scotch whisky ever produced. It was bought in 1969 for $1000, and at the time the whisky was the most expensive limited edition bottle of Scotch whisky on the market.
He added: “The whiskies I really love the most are the ones that suit my palette and, maybe more importantly, the ones which suit my wallet.”
Bryan Donaghey, Managing Director of Diageo Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have worked with Claive to bring this wonderful collection safely back to Scotland and to play a part in preserving its legacy and historic significance.
“We are loaning the collection to the Scotch Whisky Experience where annually 200,000 visitors will be able to view the collection in its atmospheric vault.”
Philip Riddle, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “The return of such an important and interesting collection of Scotch Whisky to Scotland is fantastic news, particularly as we look forward to Homecoming Scotland 2009.
“The year long programme of events will give us all a chance to celebrate some of our greatest contributions to the world, including whisky.
“This collection is sure to be a great draw for visitors and locals alike, who will be able to enjoy viewing it at one of our premier five star visitor attractions.”