Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

Independent Bottlers Challenge 2015 Winners

Bottled For A Reason - Another great year as we reveal the results of our prestigious competition

Independent bottlers serve an extremely important function by offering consumers expressions from distilleries where ‘house’ bottlings are rare or non-existent, as well as single cask and limited edition releases at unusual ages and strengths. They add greatly to the overall variety of the world of whisky, and significantly increase our drinking pleasure.

As whisky sales have soared in recent years, fewer distillers have been inclined to part with casks of their precious spirit, and the independents have had to work harder than ever to source their raw material. The results of this challenge demonstrate that they have been notably successful in their efforts, offering us a plethora of delightful drams.

INDEPENDENT BOTTLER OF THE YEAR

INDEPENDENT BOTTLER
OF THE YEAR

WINNER

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society An odd thing about the Society bottle is that they don't mention the distillery – or not in so many words. A number rather than a name denotes each distillery. This is because the curious nature of single cask, single malt whisky means the tastes are often not characteristic of the region it comes from. They prefer to describe each whisky bottling with its own unique whisky tasting note.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Judging Panel

  • No judges ??

CAMPBELTOWN

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Springbank 2004 Sherry Hogshead 51.9%

Malts of Scotland

Thick, mouth drawing, and stewed fruits of pear, apple and rhubarb with bitterness developing.

13 – 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Springbank Sherry 1993 55.7%

Duncan Taylor

Malleable toffee and fresh coriander.

SILVER

The Maltman Springbank

Meadowside Blending Company

BRONZE

SMWS 93.64 Holidays at the beach

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Springbank 1998 Sherry Hogshead

Malts of Scotland

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Old Particular Springbank 51.4%

Douglas Laing

Lovely salty, coastal air to it, but underneath, there is lemon drizzle cake.

SILVER

Springbank 1965

Lombard Scotch Whisky

BRONZE

Glen Scotia 1990 Sherry Hogshead

Malts of Scotland

HIGHLAND

NAS

GOLD

Images of Tain 53.2%

Malts of Scotland

Strawberry sweets with furniture polish and raisins. Lots of sweet, jammy fruits and a sprinkle of spices. A great Christmas whisky.

SILVER

Storm

Lombard Scotch Whisky

BRONZE

Highland Single Malt

Master of Malt

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

SMWS 26.112 59%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Sherbety, spritzy and vivacious The nose is soft fruits baked in a pie with a honey glaze. Water brings the pastry to the fore.

SILVER

SMWS 66.69 Hits the spot

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

BRONZE

Old Pulteney 2006

Malts of Scotland

13 – 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Glengoyne 2000 Sherry Butt 52.9%

Malts of Scotland

New varnished floors and split logs. Gym halls and clean changing rooms. Toasted, oats, cigar box.

SILVER

Fettercairn 1995, Single Cask

Master of Malt

BRONZE

SMWS 112.8 Vegetarian

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Glenglassaugh 1973 41.5%

The Malt Whisky Co

Immediately woody, with burnt sugar, treacle toffee and some chocolate caramel.

SILVER

Tullibardine 26 Year Old 1989 - Single Cask

Master of Malt

BRONZE

SMWS 59.53 Mad Hatters tea party

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

ISLANDS (NON ISLAY)

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

BRONXE

Tobermory 1998 Heavily Peated 55.7%

Master of Malt

Curious, but it works well!

BRONZE

SMWS 121.77 Donnage warehouse and orange boxes 53.4%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Highland Park 24 Years Old, Single Cask 57.5%

Master of Malt

Complex and rewarding.

SILVER

Highland Park 1980

Malts of Scotland

ISLAY

NO AGE STATEMENT

GOLD

Elements of Islay BW5 50.2%

Speciality Drinks

Sweet at first with Refreshers chew confection. A little apple and nectarine. Lovely sweet fruit with a touch of smoke, peaches and a hint of lemon grass. Very good integrated oak.

SILVER

Image of Islay

Malts of Scotland

BRONZE

Islay Single Malt

Master of Malt

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

SMWS 129.7 An artist in an antique boat 64.5%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Smoke with touches of red fruit. A touch of hand soap. Good balance. Sweet stone fruits and smoke with sweet peat. A little floral soap. Smoky and floral with the oak coming into the fray.

SILVER

Caol Ila 2004 Sherry

Speciality Drinks

BRONZE

Bruichladdich 12 Bourbon Cask

Master of Malt

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

1998 Islay Cacao Geyser 46%

Wemyss Vintage Malts

Sherry, Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Dried mangos and black chocolate with orange oil.

SILVER

SMWS 29.161 A bodega is burning

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

BRONZE

Golden Cask Reserve Caol Ila

Cumbrae Supply Company

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

SMWS 53.225 Comfortably smoky 53.1%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Very complex. Iodine and boat varnish. Quay side old rope. Dried dark stone fruit. Gentle smoke and hearth ash. Citrus zests and a little sweet marmalade. Smoke and sweet fresh and dried red fruits mixed with a little raisin and touches of waxy honey.

SILVER

Treasurer’s Selection Bunnahabain 1989

Robert Graham

BRONZE

Bunnahabhain 1979

Lombard Scotch Whisky

LOWLAND

NAS

SILVER

Single Malt 40%

Master of Malt

Light sweet and floral nose – a confectioner’s van crashing into a florists. Creamy palate quickly turning sharply, spicy, with lots of ginger.

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Auchentoshan 2005 Bourbon Barrel 56.7%

Citrus-heavy nose, with candied lemons and fruity lime chews. Lime carries into the body with soft spice and golden sugar popping up. Digestive biscuits and fresh cut grass appear in the finish.

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

SMWS 5.45 Une Grande Dame 58%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Closed on the nose, with hints of golden syrup and floral honey trying to make themselves known. Much more giving on the palate, with lots of syrup and a touch of model glue – almost grain-whisky-like. Lingering salted caramel on the finish.

SILVER

Auchentoshan 1998, Christmas 2014

Malts of Scotland

BRONZE

SMWS 5.42 Bathed in a baker shop

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

SMWS 50.63 Boozy buccaneers 55.3%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Leafy bushes, twigs and a touch of the farmyard (in a good way). Sweet floral notes develop, with heavy orchard fruit behind. The palate is packed with toffee apples and chalky candy. High sweetness without much richness, but still very pleasant.

SILVER

SMWS 25.69 Fresh faced and fabulous

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

BRONZE

Bladnoch 1990

Duncan Taylor

SPEYSIDE

NO AGE STATEMENT

SILVER

Images of Dufftown 53.2%

Malts of Scotland

Full-on medicinal, herbal notes on the nose, plus rich liquorice and lots of treacle. On the palate, there’s a flash of peat at the start, organic and rich, before it swiftly moves onto notes of dry, full-bodied liquorice and rich raisins. The herbal notes continue on the finish, accompanied by notes of treacle toffee.

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Miltonduff, Sherry Hogshead 53.6%

Malts of Scotland

Mocha, mahogany wood stain, burnt demerara, dark cherry jam, damson, sugary coffee granules, long, deep, oaky.

SILVER

SMWS 7.118 Long johns and velveteen jackets

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

BRONZE

Craigellachie 2006, Single Cask

Master of Malt

SMWS 36.81 Mad Hatter’s tea party

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

13 - 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

SMWS 35.132 Mellifluous munificence 56.1%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Cherry custard on the nose. Bourbon creams, brandy cream, butter. Perfect finish, mouth coating.

SILVER

Treasurer’s Selection Benrinnes 1995

Robert Graham

BRONZE

Glenburgie 1995, Single Cask

Master of Malt

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Imperial 1991, Bourbon Barrel 48.2%

Malts of Scotland

A strong nose of cherry and marzipan, drawing out to a more nutty note. Creamy and rich, without being heavy, reminding me of almond ice-cream.

SILVER

Prometheus

Glasgow Distillery Co.

Image of Dufftown

Malts of Scotland

BRONZE

50 Years Old Speyside (4th Edition)

Master of Malt

SMWS 41.61 Liquid hedonism

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

GRAIN

NO AGE STATEMENT

BRONZE

Invergordon Distillery Douglas Laing XOP 43%

Douglas Laing

Rich, biscuity, syrupy nose; hints of woodglue, homemade hard caramel, toffee apples. Sweet and spicy, a little hot and sharp on the palate. Mellows nicely with a drop of water.

12 YEARS & UNDER

BRONZE

North British 2004 Sherry Hogshead 53.7%

Malts of Scotland

Ginger cake, lightly burnt toast, marmalade, orange liqueur; strong flavour of burnt raisins, dessicated coconut and fruit loaf.

13- 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

Loch Lomond 18 Years Old 1996, Single Cask 60.5%

Master of Malt

Very pure vanilla, caramel and toffee aromas, buttery sweet popcorn. Remarkably easy to drink even at full strength. Uncomplicated but very tasty.

SILVER

Invergordon 2000 Bourbon Barrel

Malts of Scotland

BRONZE

North British 20 Years Old 1994, Single Cask

Master of Malt

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Treasurer’s Selection Invergordon 1984 64.1%

Robert Graham

Millionaire’s shortbread and beech leaves. Dark chocolate and fruit cake.

GOLD

Invergordon 23 Years Old 1991, Single Cask 52.8%

Master of Malt

Salted crackers, salty caramel, toast and Nutella. Sweet and spicy.

BRONZE

The Octave Strathclyde 1990

Duncan Taylor

NON SCOTCH

NO AGE STATEMENT

SILVER

Whiskey of America Heaven Hill 2001 48.9%

Malts of Scotland

Wood and marmalade on the nose; smooth, warning palate, medium body, more marmalade; beautiful, seamless finish with a bit of wood and heat.

BRONZE

Whiskey of America Image of Bartstown

Malts of Scotland

12 YEARS & UNDER

GOLD

Jack’s Choice 41%

Vom Fass

Intriguingly complex nose, no one element dominating. Elements of fruit.

SILVER

SMWS 83.1 A little box of treasures

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

BRONZE

SMWS 128.8 Purple as Prince

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

13- 20 YEARS OLD

GOLD

SMWS 124.4 Full of secret pleasures 60%

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Warm nose of yeast and honey. Full body, earthy flavour with treacle notes, excellent balance. Slightly oily texture with mature flavours. Superb, lingering finish.

SILVER

Celtic Cask Aon Deag

Celtic Whiskey Shop

BRONZE

Celtic Cask Deich 10

Celtic Whiskey Shop

21 YEARS & OVER

GOLD

Celtic Cask Ocht 8 46%

Celtic Whiskey Shop

Sweet shop counters. A full rich toffee scented nose, with a fruity edge and hint of polished oak. What the nose promises the palate delivers. The back room of the sweet shop has a wood fire burning, adding to the complexity of fruit and toffee. The finish is rich, long and satisfying.

SILVER

Do Dheag 12

Celtic Whiskey Shop

BRONZE

SMWS 124.5 Juicy fruits and spicy oak

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Whisky gift and present finder