Indie whisky bottling is so hot right now, with the top independent bottlers experimenting with techniques to mature innovative and distinctive whiskies. Whether you’re already an indie whisky fan, or you’re looking to go indie for your whisky, these are the top bottlers you should try.
Your favourite 12 or 10 year-old single malt is tasty, consistent, and you can find it in almost any bar or establishment you visit. We all have a favourite dram.
However, there comes a time in every whisky fan’s journey when their curiosity starts to build. The more you come to enjoy whisky, the more expressions you will want to sample. You may want to learn the difference between a highly peated and a slightly peated whisky. You may try to taste and determine flavours in a dram, from honey, to chocolate raisins.
Well, when you reach that stage, it’s time to go indie with your whisky.
Independent bottlers buy casks from distilleries, take them to their warehouses, then decide how they want to experiment with the cask in question. They choose the maturation time, the temperature of the warehouse, the type of cask, if they will re-cask the whisky or not. No two casks are ever the same, and if a cask runs out, you won’t be tasting that whisky again.
Going indie is a unique, eye-opening experience, which allows the whisky fan to sample, and ultimately, understand a huge part of the industry. Your favourite 12 year-old Scotch will still be there, waiting.
Berry Bros & Rudd is the world’s oldest family owned wine and spirits merchant. Founded in 1698 as a grocer’s shop, the company has gone on to become a greatly respected and renowned drinks company throughout the globe. The company owns a wonderful selection of small batch whiskies and casks, all under the Berry’s Own Collection. The family also own the Glenrothes Single Malt brand.
Gordon & Macphail is one of the most globally known independent bottlers out there. The company started as a grocer in 1895, and has reached significant success since. Today, the company is still owned by the family of one of the original employees and operates out of the ever-famous Speyside whisky region of Scotland. The company works with some of the most successful distilleries in Scotland’s and has some of the oldest and rarest whiskies in the world maturing in its warehouses.
The company also owns the Benromach Distillery, producer of some wonderful single malt whiskies.
Hunter Laing & Company Ltd
Hunter Laing & Co. is a very young company, founded in 2013, when brothers Fred and Stewart of Douglas Laing & Co decided to split the company assets and operate their independent projects.
In only a few short years the company has released several interesting and rare bottlings under their Old Malt Cask and Old & Rare collections, and has worked with distilleries like Macallan and Clynelish.
Kingsbury was founded in 1989, making it a rather young company compared to the likes of G&M, who have been operational for over a century.
However, the Aberdeen-based independent bottler brings a modern and highly scientific approach to the table, by hand-selecting each cask and going above and beyond to determine its quality. Kingsbury has offices in London and works with giants in the distilling industry, like Laphroaig and Talisker.
The name comes from an inscription that was put on top of Glen Croe by soldiers in 1753, in the West of Scotland.
The Rest & Be Thankful Whisky Co. is still a young company, and is owned by the Fox Fitzgerald Whisky Trading Co. Ltd. In the short time they have been on the scene, they have released some amazing bottlings by some of the most sought-after distilleries in Scotland.
Port Charlotte, Octomore, Arran, and Bunnahabhain are only some of the distilleries the company works with, bringing us old and rare, or young and experimental releases to savour and enjoy.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society
The SMWC was founded by a group of friends in 1983 and has now grown to become a global members club, releasing new whiskies every month to both members and non-members. Non-members, however, are required to pay premium to enjoy the releases by such a major group in the whisky industry.
The group bottles hundreds of casks every year, and has partner bars around the world for everyone to enjoy the releases.
Signatory was founded in 1988 by Andrew Symington, the former manager of the Prestonfield House hotel in Edinburgh, and master of its whiskies.
The company now works with over 50 known distilleries, and with a strict release policy, one can usually find over 50 releases available at one time. They bottle and hand-label all their releases, and you’ll know it’s Signatory from the beautiful, simplistic bottles and labels they use.
Their whiskies are bottled under several collections including the Un-chill Filtered Collection, the Cask Strength Collection and the Single Grain Collection. The company also owns the tiny Edradour distillery located in Pitlochry.
Silver Seal is an Italian bottling company founded in 1979 under the name Sestante and is now owned by Massimo Righi, the director of a small company called Whisky Antique.
Massimo Righi states his company’s mission clearly in an interview concerning Silver Seal.
“We believe in finding and choosing only the best casks,” says Righi. “We only pick 1% of the whiskies we try. We also believe in understanding the whisky brand well, and finding hidden distilleries that people don’t know about.”
From rums to Scotch, Silver Seal only releases the best of the best.
William Grant & Sons is the biggest independent bottler of whisky in Scotland. The company operates four distilleries, Balvenie, Glenfiddich, Kininvie and Ailsa Bay, and has the third largest malt distilling capacity in the whisky industry.
Their product range is huge, from 40 year-old releases to younger blends and single malts. William Grant & Sons is truly an industry giant, which puts quality and flavour above all else.
Wilson & Morgan is an Italian bottler, with a history stretching back decades. Branching out from wine and oil, the company started bottling whisky in the 1980’s, and has grown to become one of the most well-known independent bottlers in the world.
Their casks are hand-picked by Fabio Rossi, the head of the company, and usually matured between 10-30 years and bottled at the peak of maturation. The company’s Barrel Selection remains the company’s most popular range and their releases are shipped to countries all over the world.