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Whisky galore at Liverpool Maritime Museum

by Michael Lynch. Published Fri 14 Jan 2011 11:44, last updated: 14/01/11

Bottles of whisky, salvaged from a doomed cargo ship are going on show at the Liverpool Maritime Museum.

The SS Politician bound for Jamaica, ran aground off the west coast of Scotland on 5th February 1941 with 28,000 cases of malt whisky aboard.

People came in small boats from near and far to help themselves to the luxury whisky as "salvage" in wartime austerity Britain.

The story of the wreck and the recovery of the whisky by islanders is the stuff of legend and was immortalised in the book and later the film, “Whisky Galore” in 1949.

Now as the 70th anniversary of her last voyage approaches, two bottles of scotch, salvaged from the SS Politician, are going on show.

Amazingly one bottle still actually contains whisky after being acquired by curators of the UK Border Agency Museum.

Other artefacts from the vessel, owned by the famous Liverpool-based Harrison Line, will be on display, including a wage book and deck log recording the stranding.

Dawn Littler, curator of Archives at the Liverpool Maritime Museum, said: "SS Politician was a famous Liverpool ship. We are very excited to be telling her story because everyone remembers the film about her grounding.

"Seventy years after the ship met her end, there is still so much mystery and debate about the exact purpose of the voyage and looting of the cargo.

"Islanders felt they were entitled to the salvage while customs officers tried to stop the looting."

Karen Bradbury curator of the Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered gallery at the Maritime Museum, said: “We are delighted to acquire these enthralling new additions to our collection.

"At the time of the stranding local Customs officers believed the looting was theft because no duties had been paid on the goods as they were bound for export.

"Some of the residents who looted bottles from the wreck received prison sentences.”

To coincide with the SS Politician artefacts going on display and Burns Night 25th January, the restaurant at the Maritime Museum is serving up a very special menu.

From Saturday 22 January, The Maritime Dining Rooms will offer Scottish themed dishes including:

* Scottish oak smoked salmon with capers, lemon mayo and whole meal bread.
* Haggis neeps and tatties with whisky cream.
* Raspberry Cranachan (toasted oats layered with whisky and honey cream and raspberries).

Burns Night celebrates the birthday of famous Scottish poet Robbie Burns who was also an excise officer based in Dumfries.

Ben Sheeran, head chef at the Maritime Dining Rooms said: "To coincide with the SS Politician artefacts going on show we wanted to evoke the spirit of Scotland with some fabulous traditional dishes from north of the border. We’ll also have a few wee drams of whisky available too.”

For more information on the story of SS Politician go to: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/archive/displays/politician/



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