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Comparing Independant Bottlers.

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

Best independant bottler

I. Macleod (Dun Bheagan & Cheiften)
1
3%
D. Laing (Provenance & OMC)
9
24%
Signatory Vintages
4
11%
Duncan Taylor
3
8%
Gordon & McPhail
4
11%
Blackadder
0
No votes
Adalphi
2
5%
Murray McDavid
1
3%
James McAurther
0
No votes
Supermarkets (for value)
0
No votes
Other
3
8%
Cadenhead
7
19%
Hart Brothers
3
8%
 
Total votes : 37

Comparing Independant Bottlers.

Postby Frodo » Tue Dec 06, 2005 6:05 am

Hi everyone:

We've had some threads that have touched on how people regard various IB's. In the last tasting I went to, the discussion came up around the reputation of Duncan Taylor, and how disapointed we were in some of the samples. We were wondering what others on this forum thought about the paticular IBs. This includes what names/brands impress us and not, and to what extent. Are there some IBs that one would buy regardless of the malt? What do we think about not only quality but value?

I'd be curious about opinions about some of these I've never had.
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Postby Badmonkey » Tue Dec 06, 2005 6:39 am

Great idea for a thread, Frodo.

The Badmonkey generally plies less exclusive waters than those offered by the independent bottlers, and I have to date hesitated to indulge my curiosities about them out of sheer ignorance. The Murray McDavids seem to have a strong following in these parts.

I'm very interested to hear which ones represent good value, as I try to stretch every dollar these days.
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Postby susywong » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:35 am

Me thinks i shouldn't vote in this poll, seeing as i work for Douglas Laing!!! :D

Very interested to see the results though!!

Susan
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Postby hpulley » Tue Dec 06, 2005 1:21 pm

I should note that the Duncan Taylor samples we had were quite small and I personally find it difficult to evaluate a whisky based upon a single sample. Honestly, I prefer to keep my mind open until I've finished 1/3 or even 1/2 of a 70-75cL bottle. I've similarly found some I like and don't like when sampling flights from Cadenheads, particularly in their yearly nosing contests.

Harry
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Not disappointed!

Postby Wendy » Tue Dec 06, 2005 3:30 pm

I think it is important to clarify that as someone who was with Frodo at the recent DTC tasting, I would never say that I was disappointed in any of the DTC samples. I would however comment that the samples gave me an good indication of what I really, really liked over other expressions that were pored into my glass. The quality of each dram was superior. Could I judge an IB on this modest round of samples over another, generally, I would have to say no. We discussed this question and I am glad that Frodo has posted it.

Regards,
Wendy
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Postby jimidrammer » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:14 pm

I'll comment instead of vote. I've had Cadenhead's, Hart Brothers, and Signatory and not a bum bottle in the bunch. Since that's not even half of the bottlers listed I can't call it a fair assessment. They were:

Brora 13yo 1982-1995 Cadenhead’s 59.2% abv, Score 88

Cragganmore-Glenlivit 12yo Cadenhead’s 60.2%abv, Score 90

Mortlach 10yo C/S Hart Brothers (’89-’99) 58.8% abv, Score 90

Linkwood 11yo Hart Brothers (Sherry wood) 43% abv, Score 82

Ardmore Signatory UCF 1992 11yo 46% abv, Score 89

Benrinnes Signatory Vintage 1989 10 yo 43% abv (mini), Score 81

Mortlach Signatory Vintage 1989 10 yo 43% abv (mini), Score 87

Brora 1981 21yo Signatory UCF 46% abv (1981-2003), Score 87
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Dec 06, 2005 7:52 pm

I voted for Douglas Laing. My mate and I always make a beeline for them at the Whisky Fringe.

Not far behind are Signatory, Cadenheads, Ian Macleod and Murray McDavid.

Next are G&M and DTC as I've had some beauties and clunkers from both of them. A Clynelish that tasted of dodgy bubblegum and a Brora 1981 that was disgusting, come to mind :( .
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Postby Tom » Tue Dec 06, 2005 8:43 pm

Without a second hesitation, Cadenheads. (Sorry Suzan).
To date my first dissapointment still has to come from this IB. So far everything I sampled from them has been top quality, and often alot better then the OB even. Very impressive.

Second place would be OMC though, and not because an employee is here, but 50% is generally ideal for me, and there have been only a few dissapointments from OMC. The most were great to excellent. Though there could be alot of improvement in label information regarding casks.
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Postby karlejnar » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:14 pm

I'll second your vote Tom. Cadenhead for some great bottlings of Laphroaig 1990, a real nice Bruichladdich 1968 and a stunning Caol Ila 1993.
They seem to get some very good casks, and if they ever get a bad one I know of at least one case where it simply didn't get bottled.
In fact they used it at a visit of a danish group to show the effects of a defect whisky.
Had some great malts from G&MP, DTC, MMcD, Signatory, Hart Brothers and DL too. But also some not as good.
Never had a dissapointment with Cadenhead
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:27 pm

Not having too much positive experiences tasting IBs, I see things a little different. Adalphi and Blackadder have nothing of interest.
J.McArther, Murry McDavid, G.McPhail and D.Laing are too
High-end and overpriced, along with D.Taylor overpriced and
overrated nonsense is the worst of the lot. Signatory and
I.MacCleod are the only IBs that i have found any thing of
interest and value.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:35 pm

Don't know if you would class the SMWS as an IB but i put a vote for them under "Other" , i would say they are the best value for old age bottlings (25yo CI £62 .....bargain !) . I would then put Duncan Taylor 2nd , more great value .
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:41 pm

I'm voting Cadenheads, although to be honest, my vote is hardly well-informed. I've had bottles from only about half those mentioned, and I can't say I have had a lot of any. The few I've had of Cadenheads have impressed me, though; Laing comes second by only a hair, and only by virtue (?) of one not-so-good Caol Ila. (Most admirable of you, Susy, to recuse yourself.)

Signatory has given me some fine bottles, but a couple bum ones, too. Luck of the draw, perhaps.
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Postby lambda » Tue Dec 06, 2005 10:02 pm

No disappointments from Douglas Laing bottlings for me as of yet. Susan poured some excellent OMC's at the Leiden whisky festival. Some delicious Invergordon 40 as well, although I think that was from another range of DL.
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Postby susywong » Wed Dec 07, 2005 10:53 am

Hi Guys,

Mr T - I had to take a back seat...i used to work at Adelphi, my best mate works for Duncan Taylor, my boyfriend works for Cadenheads....don't think i'd be able to give an unbiased opinion!!

But, in all honesty i've enjoyed some great whiskies, esp. cadenheads, in particular a 23yo Lochside that was finished in port for 2 years...yummy.

I'm not too keen on Signatory, but that's just me personally...(not the views of Douglas Laing, i'm keen to point out)...

When i've tried whiskies from the likes of Ian Macleod, MMcD, Etc, i've always thought they've geen quite good, and i try to taste the competition's whiskies quite regulalry, so DL is kept up to speed on what the market is like....

Every IB has exceptional casks and also some that are not so good, but we can't please everyone all the time!! (we do try though.... :wink: )

Lambda - The Invergordon 40yo was a release from our new Grain Range, we've called it the Clan Denny Single Grain...we've got some 42yo Lochside, 40yo Dumbarton, 40yo Girvan and 39yo North of Scotland...(sorry for the self promotion guys!! :oops: )

I'm keeping an eye on this thread, to see what you guys like, to see if we need to pull our socks up a wee bit :P

Cheers
Susan
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Postby susywong » Wed Dec 07, 2005 11:41 am

Just re-reading the previous posts re: OMC

We have tried to change the label to give you guys, the drinkers, as much info as possible, and to date we include the following info:

Month of Distillation
Month of Bottling
Age
Distillery (with a few exceptions!)
ABV
Cask Reference number
Wood Type (sherry ckas mautred/finished , refill hoggie etc) - this is recent because more and more people have been asking when we're at tastings!

Do we need any more info? Any input would be greatly appreciated... :D

Cheers
Susan
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Postby hpulley » Wed Dec 07, 2005 12:31 pm

Susan, I'm not sure what else you could include though the day of distillation (perhaps difficult) and day of bottling (not too hard) might be useful to some. I don't do this but some like to buy malts distilled or bottled on birthdays for gifts.

For me, the best bottler is about top quality, who has the absolute best malts available, and consistency.

So far I've had some top notchers from Douglas Laing and have yet to get a dud from them, but I haven't had the opportunity to do tastings with them of flights where I'm sure I'd find some are not to my tastes.

I've also had some super top notch stuff from Duncan Taylor but I've done enough tastings that I've found some products which are not ones I'd buy. Does that mean they're less consistent? I don't think so -- I've just had more opportunity to try their line.

Cadenheads is another top shelfer for me but like Duncan Taylor I've tasted enough samples to know they bottle some stuff I don't like. When you bottle enough casks, this is bound to happen!

I've had a few duds from Signatory (especially in the screw-cap 350mL bottles) and no real superstars.

Ian Macleod has also had some poor ones and some very good ones but again I don't remember any that really stand out in my mind.

James Macarthur has some great stuff and seems pretty consistent.

The three top shelf ones I mentioned are generally more expensive than the others I listed but I think the price difference is worth it. I still prefer to try before I buy if possible and wish that was easier to do over here (bloody customs seizing my samples).

Harry
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Postby Tom » Wed Dec 07, 2005 6:01 pm

Susan,
Thank you and especially the brothers Laing offcourse for putting more info on labels. The utmost important thing for me personally is the cask type, with reference to first or second fill. A new thing that would be vastly appreciated would be the sherry type, f.i. Amontillado or Fino. The only ones I have seen so far are Oloroso and Fino. Other then that, I usually only care about the vintage and age.
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Postby The Dazzler » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:31 am

Douglas Laing for me. These guys have churned out older Ardbegs than Ardbeg in the past few years. Also the amount of bottlings of Broras, Port Ellens, Dallas Dhus and St Magdalenes these guys have done in recent years must be applauded. And most importantly the quality is pretty consistant throughout.

Like many others using the forum here, I have had good and bad experiences with most IB's. I think people get comfortable with a bottler and are happy to stick to their particular bottlings, so trust comes in here. Therefore the people behind it are important and with guys like Douglas Laing, Signatory, Cadenhead and so on visiting shows etc this is the best way to get aquainted. These guys are more than happy to chat to you, and let you try their whiskies.

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Postby Lawrence » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:58 am

how come the SMWS is not on the list??
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Dec 08, 2005 2:30 am

Because they are not available in the open marketplace?
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:02 am

Lawrence wrote:how come the SMWS is not on the list??


I'd include that under "other".
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:21 am

OK, here's my vote:

I've never had Adalphi, Blackadder or James McArther before. I've had a few Connisours Choice bottlings that have never impressed me. Some have been OK, some have been poor quality. Same assessment for Signatory with the addition that at the LCBO, Signatory bottlings seems to be priced well. Not a great dram from them, but reasonably priced.

The best on a consistent basis would have to be the Provenance line from D. Laing. Allens have a few bottlings, and I've found none below "good" and quite a few that were "really good". I'd echo here Tom's comment about putting the type of sherry and/or barrel on the label. This is a bottling line that I'd buy something if it was on sale regardless of the malt in the bottle. There's a bottle of 14yr Macallan (Provenance) for C$100 Cdn at the LCBO. I'm thinking about it, and I'm not sold on Mac. The thinking here is that if I don't like this bottling (a first for Prov) I probably won't like any other Mac. This is the regard I hold for D. Laing. OMC's I have less experiance with, being more expensive, but the few I've had have been very good to great!

Had a few decent Dun Bheagans - nothing that made me want to get up and dance. D. Taylor bottling haven't spoken to me. Anything I've tried at Spirit of Toronto have been decent, but expensive. The samples Harry shared with me were hit and miss - scary for 22yr old this, and 35yr old that!
Last edited by Frodo on Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:24 am

My sense on the Murray McDavid bottlings are that they are good, but really expensive. Anyone have a comment on this?
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Postby Admiral » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:25 am

I'm coming in late here, hopefully I can add something new:

1. I've been impressed with the Duncan Taylor offerings I've had, but it must be said, their bottlings are pretty expensive.

2. I'm surprised Gordon & MacPhail haven't received a vote yet. They were the original guys supplying malts & expressions that we would never have otherwise seen. In terms of sheer range, scope, affordability, and diversity of whiskies, these guys have plenty to offer.

3. However, my vote goes to Douglas Laing. THe Old Malt Cask range has been spectacular, I've thoroughly enjoyed every bottle I've tried, and - more importantly - they offer realistic and affordable pricing. Some other bottlers annoy me for putting seemingly high premiums on their bottlings, which often are not justified.

Great thread!

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:45 am

Good point re G&M. I don't think anyone has the breadth of selection they do. If the question is who consistently produces the best bottlings, that would be one thing, but if it's who gives you the best opportunity to try a lot of different things, G&M would have to be #1.

So Frodo, what's a "reasonable price" for a "poor quality" bottle? :wink:
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:51 am

(Edited)

OK, I'm going to try again here. at $40-50 Cdn, I'm expecting a bottling that is either basicly good with some obvious flaws, or a bad cask that has something noteworthy about it (ie - defunct distillery, a finish). At C$60 I'm expecting those flaws to be kept to a minimum, as the OB's at that price range are usually OK. For IB's though, its probably more of a crap shoot at this price point.

I'm not sure about what I'd pay for a bad bottling, but I know that at $40-50 I'll be less suprised at a bum bottle.

PS this is why I've stayed away from a G&M Miltonduff 10yr old for C$55. I figure crapshoot about the quality, but the fact that its from a distillery we don't get much of made me pause...
Last edited by Frodo on Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Frodo » Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:10 am

Admiral wrote:2. I'm surprised Gordon & MacPhail haven't received a vote yet. They were the original guys supplying malts & expressions that we would never have otherwise seen. In terms of sheer range, scope, affordability, and diversity of whiskies, these guys have plenty to offer.

Cheers,
Admiral


Gee, I feel kind of SPAMMED!
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Postby Frodo » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:40 pm

I'm suprised by the responce of Cadenheads. Interesting! Never had one before - perhaps I should.

Not much responce about Murray McDavid and Hart Brothers. Any feedback about these? There are a few Hart Brother bottlings at the LCBO and they might go on sale. Any experiances/info/feedback would be good to have.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:54 pm

I've enjoyed all the Murray & McDavid bottlings I've had but I've only had a few so I haven't commented.

I've seen a few Hart Bros bottlings but have yet to pick one up so I can't comment there either.

Harry
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Dec 11, 2005 2:16 pm

Admiral wrote:I'm coming in late here, hopefully I can add something new:

1. I've been impressed with the Duncan Taylor offerings I've had, but it must be said, their bottlings are pretty expensive.


Better late than never Admiral !
I find DTC Offerings very good value here Admiral , especially the older stuff .

2. I'm surprised Gordon & MacPhail haven't received a vote yet. They were the original guys supplying malts & expressions that we would never have otherwise seen. In terms of sheer range, scope, affordability, and diversity of whiskies, these guys have plenty to offer.


To be honest i'm not ! They only offer the 40%ers here with the odd "Cask" one , If we got offered the equivilant of the SOS here in the UK like continental Europe instead of excuses that don't stand up to close examination (you know who you are !) i would possibly have voted for them !

3. However, my vote goes to Douglas Laing. THe Old Malt Cask range has been spectacular, I've thoroughly enjoyed every bottle I've tried, and - more importantly - they offer realistic and affordable pricing. Some other bottlers annoy me for putting seemingly high premiums on their bottlings, which often are not justified.

Great thread!

Cheers,
Admiral


I had a chat with Stewart about the pricing of their bottlings and in the end we agreed to disagree (it's a long story how it all came about but followers of my yahoo group know what happened !) but i don't think they are now good value especially my favourite malt ! so i'll agree to disagree with you as well !!!!

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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Dec 12, 2005 9:18 am

I have not noticed Laing bottlings to be particularly Frodo Factor Friendly, either. Good stuff, but not cheap by any means.
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Postby Frodo » Mon Dec 12, 2005 7:18 pm

T'is true, the OMC - well you get what you pays for (expensive but good). The Provenance bottlings however I find pretty good value. Not a great bargan, but not bad.
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Postby BruceCrichton » Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:15 am

One thing that Douglas Laing do, that most other indies don't, bar G&M and Signatory, is that they make miniatures and 200 ml sample bottles available.

I've just received a 200 ml sample of OMC Linkwood (1991) for my birthday. I'll let you know how it tastes when I open it. 8)
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Postby Admiral » Tue Dec 13, 2005 3:07 am

I have not noticed Laing bottlings to be particularly Frodo Factor Friendly, either. Good stuff, but not cheap by any means.


OMC 21yo Port Ellen at 50% for $190

OB Port Ellen (Diageo bottling) = $350 !!!

Seems pretty good value to me, given that they could be justified in charging a pretty premium for such a rare & highly prized whisky.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Tue Dec 13, 2005 7:26 pm

Admiral wrote:
I have not noticed Laing bottlings to be particularly Frodo Factor Friendly, either. Good stuff, but not cheap by any means.


OMC 21yo Port Ellen at 50% for $190

OB Port Ellen (Diageo bottling) = $350 !!!

Seems pretty good value to me, given that they could be justified in charging a pretty premium for such a rare & highly prized whisky.

Cheers,
Admiral


DLP 1975 30yo Ardbeg £270

O.B. 1973 31yo Ardbeg £199

it seems to work both ways .....

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