Accepted rare whisky in lieu of rent

The warehouse used by Diageo where the rare whisky went missing from
The warehouse used by Diageo where the rare whisky went missing from

A landlord accepted almost £40,000 over rare whisky in tenant in lieu of £1400 unpaid rent.

Kenneth McLean (48) was caught with 57 bottles of some of Scotland’s rarest malts stashed in his loft in a Braes village.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that police had been investigating complaints from a bonded warehouse in Grangemouth, used by drinks giant Diageo, that valuable whiskies had gone missing from its duty-free storage vaults last July.

They then received a tip off that McLean had a large quantity spirits in his attic at his home in Main Street, Avonbridge.

Prosecutor Ann Orr said a warrant was obtained and on November 5 the premises were searched.

The hoard that officers found included nine bottles of 37-year-old Port Ellen from the cult closed distillery worth nearly £2500 each, seven bottles of 38 year old Brora 1977, which retail for £1750 each, a £500 bottle of Coal Ila 30 year old malt, and numerous other bottles.

None of the bottles had been duty-paid and could not have been legally sold in the UK, and they had a total value of £39,272.

McLean was arrested and in an initial police interview he claimed he had bought the whisky for cash, paying up to £2500 for some of the bottles.

He told officers he intended to keep the whiskies for five or ten years, then sell them at a profit.

But when he appeared for sentence at Falkirk Sheriff Court today, having pleaded guilty to reset, it emerged that he had told social workers preparing a background report that he had accepted them as rent, and had been “wilfully blind” to the probability they were stolen.

Sheriff Derek Livingston said that, according to the report, he had taken them to clear outstanding rental sums of £1400.

The sheriff said: “It’s very expensive whisky.”

Solicitor-advocate Martin Morrow, defending, said: “The value of the whisky was the subject of some discussion in my office.”

Sheriff Livingston asked: “Is your client a whisky drinker?”

Mr Morrow replied: “He is. He did have some appreciation of the whiskies’ values.

“He acknowledges he has been extremely foolish.”

Sheriff Livingston told McLean that as he had pleaded guilty at an early stage, he would sentence him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work under a community payback order, as an alternative to custody.