Miniature whisky collector Alex Barclay, originally from Macduff in Scotland, brought great enthusiasm to his favourite hobby.
It all began when his father gave him some miniature whiskies, it was around 1975, on a visit from Scotland.
Then, on a management training course, he was asked to give a presentation on a subject of his choice and decided to give it on Scotch whisky. His widow recalls that these were the two events that brought about the great turning point:
‘So began a lifelong interest in and passion for the water of life’
Alex began collecting as many different miniatures as possible and always had the target of collecting one miniature from each distillery. Then he went on to focus on collecting whiskies from each of the silent stills. He would focus on a variety of individual themes and would collect all the miniatures produced by one particular distillery. He would work on collecting every single one of the Macallans for example then it would be independent bottling companies such as MacArthurs.
As time went on, Alex became increasingly involved in the then vibrant miniature whisky collecting scene. He joined the Mini Bottle Club and eventually became the whisky officer for the club. He especially enjoyed writing articles about new releases or old favourites and attended the club’s AGMs.
Alex Barclay’s miniature whisky collection grew and grew
In the process he built up a number of whisky contacts and friends around the world and would often acquire bottles for his collection by swapping with other collectors. He met up several times with Sukhinder Singh, for instance, and the two of them were in touch quite often, discussing the minutiae of miniatures, comparing points of interest and sharing their enjoyment of the hobby.
Alex was an intelligent collector, he took every opportunity to develop his knowledge about whisky. Mrs Barclay remembers, ‘As a family, we visited many distilleries and always seemed to learn something new each time.’ He spent a memorably happy holiday in the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Islay in 2009.
‘We all have happy memories of the tours and the smell of the angel’s share’
All of this meant that not only did Alex become an expert in collecting miniature whiskies but he also took a great interest in the liquid itself and learnt about whisky production too.
Alex sold a large part of his collection (approaching 5500 bottles) a few years ago, but all the time he was still collecting new miniatures. Now he was delighted because he had cleared some space so he had room to add more miniatures!
Alex was of course a born collector. His widow recalls ‘He had a substantial collection of Games Workshop figures and was latterly involved in collecting and producing pin badges of birds.’
Alex planned to visit Scotland in the near future and visit distilleries again.
Sadly, this was not to be but he certainly lived life to the full.
Alex Barclay’s miniatures and memorabilia were sold at auction in April.
This article and the accompanying auction are dedicated to Alex Barclay born 30 June 1950 and died 4 August 2021.