Every year, independent bottling companies play an increasingly important role in the whisky industry. Nowadays, consumers of whisky are searching for rare, specialist whiskies. This is where independent bottlers fill a gap in the market. As independents are beginning to play such a vital role, the expert team at Havana House has decided to create a definitive guide to independent bottling.
Independent bottlers offer a unique range of whiskies through acquiring a number of casks from a *mothballed distillery or even a totally dismantled distillery. The casks that have been acquired will then be matured as seen fit by the independent bottler. Then, they will be bottled and presented under a private label, often at a lower price.
The reason that independent bottlers play such an integral role to the industry is that they benefit every party. The distillery receives revenue in times of low cash flow, The customers gain the option to buy quality whisky at a lower price and the independent bottler makes lots of money.
*What is a mothballed distillery? – a mothballed distillery is a manufacturer of whisky that has gone into a sort of hibernation period. The distillery has casked as much whisky as it would like to and is now simply waiting for the whisky to mature.
- Some independent bottlers specialise is producing limited editions of rare whiskies from specially selected casks. These whiskies are very attractive to the discerning whisky connoisseurs out there.
- In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for ‘cask strength whiskies’. Proprietary whiskies are normally bottled at 43% vol. ‘Cask strength’ means that no water has been added to the brew prior to bottling so the strength may well be over 50% vol.
- Some independently bottled whiskies are marketed without any indication as to the source distillery. These are referred to as secret bottlings.
- Distilleries often pass on casks that are ‘uncharacteristic’ of the brand to independent bottlers. This means that the distillery is not associated with inconsistency yet, revenue can still be made from unusable casks.
- There is a reason that independent bottlings cost less than proprietary bottlings, although the whisky inside is from the same set of casks. Many whisky brands are centuries old and thus are respected enough to demand a higher price. Branded bottlings can be more reliable in taste, also.
Our Independent Bottlers
Signatory – This independent bottler was founded in 1988 by Andrew and Brian Symington. The brand is best known for their cask strength and un-chill filtered collections of scotch. Signatory is the largest independent bottler in the world.
Douglas Laing – Established in 1948 by the father of Fred and Stewart Laing, who are the two current directors. The Glasgow based company has a proud history of bottling high quality scotch to a worldwide market. The company specialise in small batches of single malts.
Gordon & MacPhail – The brand opened up it’s first premises in Elgin, Scotland all the way back in 1895. The company was founded by James Gordon and Alex MacPhail. They decreed their product would be ‘a superior article at a popular price’
The team at Havana House thanks you for reading our blog! If you would like to check out any of our independent bottles, click here! Equally, if you have any of your own opinions don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section below for your fellow connoisseurs.