Whisky Pioneers: Silvano Samaroli

silvano samaroli whisky pioneer

On the 16 February 2017, the world of independent bottling lost a legend: Silvano Samaroli.

Born in Bologna in 1939, Silvano was responsible for founding the Samaroli Bottling and Importing Company in Rome in 1968. He was also one of the first people to actively and deliberately promote cask strength whisky and to spot the need for NAS bottlings.

At a young age, however, his interests didn’t lie in the world of malts and peat. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an air force pilot, dedicating his spare time to flying through the skies.

However, much to the relief of anybody who has ever tried even a drop of a Samaroli bottling, his taste for flying quickly faded and Silvano found himself selling liquor in an Italian store.

However, that desire to do something exciting and thrilling – the one that made him want to be a pilot – never left him. He threw himself into the liquor business with the same enthusiasm that he’d used to take to the skies.

And it paid off.

By 1968, he had taken his passion for whisky and founded Samaroli Srl Wine and Spirits Merchants in Rome.

Within a decade, it became the first non-Scottish and non-English independent Scotch whisky bottler in the world. Silvano Samaroli released his first whisky series – a collection of Cadenhead bottlings in 1979, and just two years later, he released another series of bottlings – the ‘Flowers’ series.

It wasn’t long before he began to forge his reputation as a pioneer of independent bottling.

‘Thinking of Mr Silvano Samaroli, these are the two phrases that immediately appear to me: tradition and innovation blended together. It is not easy to describe the influence, the values, his definition of quality and the knowledge he passed on. He invented and developed his unique style without compromise.’
Francesco Saverio Binetti, Former Sales Manager at Samaroli.

Introducing cask strength whisky to the world

In the 1980s, Samaroli began to bottle and promote cask strength whiskies. While other bottlers and distillers focused on promoting high-proof whiskies, Samaroli focused on bottling whiskies at cask strength and providing detailed notes on the histories, tasting and casks on the backs of each bottles. His passion, enthusiasm and knowledge spread around the world, bringing about the tradition of cask strength independent bottlings that continues to this day.

A pioneer of new ideas

Not content to only produce cask strength bottlings of staggering consistency and brilliance, Silvano Samaroli also predicted the need for No Age Statement bottlings long before anybody else in the whisky industry. In 1992, he released his ‘No Age’ series of NAS bottlings, long before NAS bottlings became an industry standard.

The Silvano Samaroli legacy

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to try a Samaroli bottling, you’ll be fully aware of his sheer brilliance. If you haven’t yet had the chance, just know that there’s a reason that every Samaroli bottling is so highly sought after – everything he bottled was of such an exceptional quality that it almost defied belief.

As Emmanuel Dron, owner of the Auld Alliance bar, said of his late friend:

‘Some of his bottlings are just the best whisky I ever tried in my life. He probably bottled the best Scapa ever, the best Jura, the best Tormore, some outstanding Springbank, Ardbeg, Longmorn, Caol Ila, and I can name much more. His legacy for whisky lovers is huge.’

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