The Independent Bottler
It is possible for most anyone with reasonable
business acumen, an abundance of patience and determination,
after having acquired the necessary licenses, permits, etc.
to purchase casks of Scotch Single Malt Whisky. One even has
the option of bottling his casks with his own private label
and selling the bottles if he has met the lawful stipulations
of his particular locale. The purchaser of bottlings
from such private enterprises should be aware of several variables
that should be of concern, IF the acquisition of a high quality
Scotch single malt is his objective.
The quality of the independent bottling will
depend on the original quality of the whisky stock that was
purchased and what was done with it during the interim before
it was bottled. Obviously, if the independent bottler purchases
a high quality cask of whisky and immediately bottles it,
or has the distillery to do so, the whisky will remain the
same quality whisky that it was when it was purchased. However,
if the bottler takes on the responsibility of diluting the
whisky to a lower proof, or transports the cask to another
location for further maturation, several other factors affecting
the character of the whisky come to mind:
- What was the quality of
the water used for diluting the whisky?
- Was the equipment used
for bottling and dilution sanitary?
- What were the qualifications
and level of whisky production experience of the people
involved in the independent bottling?
- What were the quality
standards and experience of the bottler?
- What was the change in
- What are the quality standards
of the independent bottler?
There are other questions that can also be asked
in reference to private bottlings, and time will usually provide
the answers. Single malt purists tend to prefer their malts
as directly from the cask in which it was matured as possible.
This may include being bottled at cask strength with no chill-filtration
prior to bottling. Properly handled, however, the experienced
independent bottler can provide a high quality, and sometimes
superior quality whisky, than is available from the whisky
producer. Knowledge on the part of the consumer is required
to determine the value of such bottlings, however.
There are some excellent independent bottling
firms with which I have personal experience. They include:
Cadenhead -- The
oldest existing merchant bottler of Scotch single malts.
They have been in operation since 1842. They bottle
single cask bottlings at cask strength with no chill-filtration.
They include excellent tasting notes with each bottle which
gives the purchaser some idea as to the general character
of the malt before he purchases the bottle.
Gordon and MacPhail
-- When in Elgin, a must visit is the famous Gordon and MacPhail
grocery, deli, candy, meat, etc. store and see the outstanding
inventory listing of single malts that they offer. They
also have a great inventory of miniatures. They are
located at 58-60 South Street in Elgin.
bottlers with which I have had pleasant experiences
The Coopers Choice
The Scotch Malt Whisky
Society -- In addition to being an independent bottler,
this highly respected organization is a private club.
Though they have been in existence only since 1983, their
youth has provided the vigor to propel them into a most select
and exclusive connoisseur environment. The team
tasting process by which they select the clubs single
malts, which they subsequently offer for sale to their membership,
is remarkable. I have had the pleasure of being a taster
on one of their official tasting sessions and was most impressed.
The SMWS bottles all of the clubs malts as single cask bottlings
and at cask strength without chill filtration. They provide
detailed, and quite colorful and creative tasting
notes for each cask of whisky. They use dark green bottles
with a number code to identify the distiller of the malt.
For instance a 15.6 designation on the bottle
would be a Glenfiddich, Cask #6 single malt. The code reference
is readily available and is printed below for your convenience.
This is a must see (and experience) when in Edinburg.
Their headquarters and fabulous quaint bar is located at The
Vaults, 87 St. Giles Street, Leith, Edinburg.
Distillery Code Names For
Scotch Single Malt Whisky Society Bottlings
2. The Glenlivet
4. Highland Park
6. Glen Deveron Macduff
9. Glen Grant
19. Glen Garioch
20. Inverleven (D)
24. The Macallan
31. Isle of Jura
35. Glen Moray
43. Port Ellen (M)
45. Dallas Dhu (C)
49. St. Magdalene (D)
52. Old Pulteney
53. Caol Ila
55. Royal Brackla (C)
57. Glen Mhor (D)
61. Brora (C)
67. Banff (D)
68. Blair Athol
69. Glen Albyn
74. North Port (C)
78. Ben Nevis
80. Glen Spey
81. Glen Keith
83. Convalmore (C)
85. Glen Elgin
86. Glenesk (M)
87. Millburn (D)
93. Glen Scotia
99. Glenugie (C)
103. Royal Lochnagar
113. Braes of Glenlivet
KEY: (D) Dismantled (M) Maltings Only (N) New
Distillery (C) Closed
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