A RARE bottle of Scotch from the shipwreck that inspired Whisky Galore! has fetched £9200 at auction - 33 years after it was salvaged from the seabed.

The bottle was one of thousands packed in cases on board the SS Politician when it ran aground near the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, in 1941.

The story of the ship and the islanders who couldn’t believe their luck was told by Scots author Compton MacKenzie in his 1947 novel Whisky Galore!

The bottle was salvaged by North Sea diver George Currie, in 1987, after discussing the tale with colleagues in the pub the night before.

Mr Currie, 67, from Kirkwall in Orkney, put his prized possession up for sale in The Grand Whisky Auction, which concluded on Monday night.

He said yesterday he was “delighted” with the sale.

He said: “My wife Christine was getting updates every 10 minutes. It was sitting at £9000 for a while and then there were a couple of late bids.

“I’m delighted with the price - all for an 80 year old bottle of whisky I found in the sea.

“It holds a lot of memories for me of the fun we had that day but now it’s time for somebody else to enjoy it. It’s a good bit of history.”

The 8000-ton SS Politician was bound for Kingston in Jamaica and New Orleans when it foundered near Eriskay.

The crew were rescued unharmed, and much of the whisky on board was removed by islanders from under the noses of the authorities.

The whisky was stored in No. 5 hold, which was later blown up by Customs & Excise officials in an attempt to put the drink beyond temptation.

One local famously said: “Dynamiting whisky? You wouldn’t think there’d be men in the world so crazy as that.”

MacKenzie wrote his classic novel in 1947, although he re-christened the ship the SS Cabinet Minister and renamed the islands of South Uist and Eriskay as Great and Little Todday.

The tale inspired a 1949 Ealing Comedy starring Gordon Jackson, Joan Greenwood and Basil Radford, remade in 2016 with a cast including Gregor Fisher, Eddie Izzard and James Cosmo.

Mr Currie was working on a subsea cable repair in 1987 when his team decided to try to locate the wreck during some time off.

Recalling the dive, he said: “It was a beautiful day, at low tide. There wasn’t much of (the ship) left - one part of the hull standing and the other side had collapsed with sand right up to the top.

“There was a lot of glass, but in one wee pocket there were bottlenecks sticking up and there they were. We had scallop bags with us, and put the bottles we found in them.

“I’ve done some fantastic dives, but that would have to be the pinnacle. We had some night afterwards, and enjoyed a good few drinks in the pub, although I had my bottle all wrapped up and stored away safely. I wasn’t drinking whisky though - I’m a gin and tonic man.”

Mr Currie has carefully looked after his bottle for more than three decades. He sealed it with wax to stop the cork from evaporating and stored it in a cupboard, turning it regularly.

He offered the whisky along with a diving helmet, a poster from the 2016 movie and bricks he also recovered from the wreckage.

The bottle fetched nearly five figures despite a warning it is “not suitable for human consumption”.

Mr Currie said the windfall had come at a good time, adding: “I’ve already bought a laptop for my grandson who’s just starting college and I’m thinking of buying a swim spa to help my arthritis.

“Christine and I were 40 years married last year so anything left might go towards a holiday when this coronavirus is over.”