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The Best Independents

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

Who are the best IBs? Choose up to 5.

Adelphi
2
3%
Alchemist
1
1%
Berry Bros. & Rudd
4
5%
Blackadder
0
No votes
William Cadenhead & Co
10
14%
Compass Box
0
No votes
Dewar Rattray
4
5%
Gordon & MacPhail
6
8%
Hart Bros
0
No votes
Invararity Vaults
0
No votes
Douglas Laing & Co Ltd
10
14%
James MacArthur & Co Ltd
0
No votes
MWBH
0
No votes
Murry McDavid
2
3%
SMWS
5
7%
Scott's Selection
3
4%
Signatory
13
18%
Duncan Taylor
5
7%
The Wee Dram
1
1%
The Whisky Exchange
5
7%
The Whisky Shop
0
No votes
Other
3
4%
 
Total votes : 74

The Best Independents

Postby kyorke1 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 8:40 pm

Dangerous territory here, how does one go about buying an IB? Would you buy one? Do they go for volume over value? Are the bottlings to be trusted? Do they degrade/promote the distillers (when named) they represent? Does the risk of bottling (often) a single cask pay off?

I don't have much experience with IBs but those I have tried were great and I would like to try more.

Calling all those experienced with indie's, help me find out those which perform consistently well, are hit and miss, you would go for and you wouldn’t go within five feet of.

I appreciate this could be difficult to vote on so any thoughts, comments or experiences would be good to hear.

I hope this helps others too.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby kyorke1 » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:08 pm

Thanks, I did search for a similar thread first but couldn't find any.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby Wave » Mon Jan 19, 2009 9:11 pm

I buy a lot of IB's mainly because I like cask strength whiskies and there are many distilleries that don't offer cask strengths. Whenever I taste a whisky from an untasted distillery I like to taste it's true character unhindered by add water from an unknown source, just the heavenly nectar straight from the wood!

My old favorites are Signatory and Cadenheads. I still get Signatory Vintages today and the occasional bottle or two from Cadenhead's whenever I get through Edinburgh. Dewar Rattray is one of my newest IB finds and I've been impressed with both their quality and cask selection. Scott's Selection and Douglas Laing for my other two picks with Duncan Taylor a sixth I couldn't mark that also has great bottlings.

Cheers!
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:02 am

William Cadenhead: Particularly fond of some of the cask-strength refill cask-matured examples, where the relatively restrained impact of the oak has allowed a greater degree of the intrinsic complexity of the malt to show.

Gordon & MacPhail: If only for their role in keeping some of the less well known malts in the public eye.

Douglas Laing: Have experienced some superb Old Malt Cask bottlings. The 1975 Ardbeg 25YO has to count amongst the finest whiskies I've tasted.

Signatory: Has been very reliable. Some of their Sherry casked releases are very tasty. But that 1980 Caol Ila 16YO cask-strength was a knockout.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby LagaDrinker » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:59 am

Collector57 wrote:See also this thread


Interesting thread C57.

What is the best place to buy these IB's online? TWE seem to have the largest selection I have found but I cannot find an IB that has there own online shop. If I could I think I would try more IB's than I have.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:28 am

Cadenheads number one for me too, Ian MacLeod second (shame on you for not listing :wink: ) and Douglas Laing third
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby pkt77242 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 2:35 am

I voted Scotts Selection and Signatory. They are both very good. Signatory has some good entry level bottlings ($40-$80) as well as some very good expensive bottlings. I have never had a Scotts Selection bottling cheaper than $100 but everyone has been very good and worth the price (I have been to 2 of their tastings and all of those whiskies ranged from very good to excellent). The onloy independent bottle that I have had a bad experience was the Duncan Taylor NC2 range. Not very good. I have heard that the regular Duncan Taylor range is good but have not had any.

Sean
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby Knolly » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:55 am

This is a tough question because there are some generally good IBs but even then it pays to test before you buy if possible.

In Canada, we don't have access to such a wide range of IBs; however several are starting to make inroads into the fragmented provincial markets.

I picked DL, DR, GM, Signatory and the SMWS. These are IBs from whom I have several different single malts each and overall i've always liked what I've had. Some have been amazing and some have been only OK, but none have really left me unimpressed. However, that's not the case for all IBs: I generally quite like Bruichladdich (especially their peated whiskies), but for the life of me, I haven't had a bottle from MMD that i've ever wanted to rush out and buy.

And, i totally agree with Wave for his reasons for buying IBs: cask strength!!!

IB pricing is interesting: to get started with IBs, the prices are not neccessarily competitive with standard OBs. However, when the ages get up (or the distillery is rare), the prices can become very competitive: 1970's ardbegs, cask strength, for half or less than OBs. But, you have to be careful: OMC (Douglas Laing) had as overall pretty good selection of Port Ellens but the one released last year (at least in Canada) was good, but not fantastic in my opinion. So, because so many of the bottles are single cask, or at the most, a vatting of only a few casks, there is definitely variation, even on their "standard" products.

Cheers!
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby Wave » Tue Jan 20, 2009 12:05 pm

LagaDrinker wrote:What is the best place to buy these IB's online? TWE seem to have the largest selection I have found but I cannot find an IB that has there own online shop. If I could I think I would try more IB's than I have.

There are at least two on your side of the pond. Cadenhead's and Berry Bros & Rudd, Signatory doesn't have their own on-line shop though Royal Mile Whiskies carries many of their bottlings.

Cheers!
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby bcrossan » Tue Jan 20, 2009 4:18 pm

Nobody talked much about Hart Bros... I guess I should be wary of those then?? My local store has a Mortlach, Macallan, and Laphroig by them. I have been tempted several times but held off because I can't find any comments or notes on any of these.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Jan 20, 2009 5:11 pm

I've only tried (if memory serves me, it's been some time after all) four Hart Bros. bottlings. The sole example that really did anything for me was a 30YO Springbank 1965. And others have panned this very whisky! I know there must be better HB offerings out there.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby matthew2512 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:13 am

bcrossan wrote:Nobody talked much about Hart Bros... I guess I should be wary of those then?? My local store has a Mortlach, Macallan, and Laphroig by them. I have been tempted several times but held off because I can't find any comments or notes on any of these.



Hart Brothers are usually very good. I did not think much of the Macallan but i do know a lot of people who thought it was great.
If you can get the Talisker 13 year old i can definitely recommended it, one of the best taliskers i have had.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby matthew2512 » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:23 am

As for my favorite independent bottler, i find ian macleod to be very good, especially the dun bheagan range and the chieftains bottlings that come in the dark blue boxes. Although i do think that they are getting a little carried away with the wine finishes. I could almost cry when a beautiful old Glenugie or Glenury Royal or gets put into a wine cask :cry:
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby borgom » Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:36 am

I haven't voted as there are too many I haven't tried. We don't get too many IB's in Oz.
I can say that Single Malts of Scotland, Douglas Laing and Hart Brothers seem to be consistently above average.
I've had two bottlings from Berry Bros (Berry's Best and Coal Ila 25) and thought both to were poor so I wouldn't recommend them.
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby UUNetBill » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:43 pm

Sorry, couldn't vote either - pretty much an IB virgin, not a huge selection in Colorado Springs, and the shops in Denver that carry IB's, well, the selection is a bit overwhelming.

I do have a MMD Mortlach downstairs, I might need to crack it open before too long. . .
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Re: The Best Independents

Postby Gilles Deleuze » Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:08 am

I thought I'd bump this to give a little more love to the Single Malts of Scotland. I haven't tried that many IB's yet (I have a bunch of unopened ones, though!), but I've been consistently impressed with the SMOS bottlings I've tried. All the more so when I factor in value for money.

I've also been pleased with all the Signatory Cask Strength Collection bottlings I've tried.

I can't make any conclusions yet about the SMWS, since I've only opened one of the bottles I have from them (but I like it!).

I have a Dewar Rattray Mortlach on the way, because I've only heard good things about DR bottlings.

Scott's Selection bottlings seem to be really solid as well, but most of them are out of my price range.... :(
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