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Questions about independent bottles ?

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Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby tollickd » Mon Dec 23, 2013 9:29 am

Hi all,

Are bottle matured for the full time at the distillery before being sent to the independent bottler?

Do they send back the casks once empty?
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Ganga » Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:11 am

I am not sure if the information I have heard is correct. I believe that a little bit of each happens. That is some of the casks are stored at the distillery and some may be stored at other warehouses. This is what I have heard and not gospel.

On another note, do some distilleries store casks off-site from the distillery?
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby The Third Dram » Thu Dec 26, 2013 3:12 pm

tollickd wrote:Are bottles matured for the full time at the distillery before being sent to the independent bottler?

I assume you're referring to casks and not 'bottles'. As Ganga has speculated, those casks can be stored either at the distillery (or at an alternative site - please read further on* - prior to being shipped to an independent bottler for some further ageing or for immediate bottling) or (usually in the case of an independent bottler dealing in significantly larger quantities of whisky and owning the warehousing capacity to do so, such as Gordon & MacPhail) at the premises of an outside concern.

*Note that most distilleries do not have extensive enough space to mature all of their malt whisky production on site. Furthermore, the bulk (with notable exceptions) of production from malt whisky distilleries is destined for utilization in blends. Therefore, many distilleries or their parent companies employ off-site warehousing locations as well.

tollickd wrote:Do they send back the casks once empty?

As far as I am aware, both the whisky and the cask(s) it's stored in become the property of the independent bottler once sale has been finalized. However, this would not preclude said independent bottler from reselling the cask(s) back to the distillery or its parent company afterward.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby tollickd » Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:20 am

Thanks for the details all :) hope you all had a great Christmas.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby whiskgeek » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:36 pm

It's done all different ways.

Most of the big independents have their own cask inventory and their own warehouses. But not all. Some independents buy casked whisky. Some cask it themselves. Some warehouse it themselves, while a few lease space at the distilleries. Some buy it at the time they have it bottled. I'm sure I've heard of examples of each.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:54 am

I think that the important point (already made) is that most whisky is probably not actually matured, or even filled into casks, at the distillery where it was made, whether it is owned by the distiller or an independent.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Ganga » Mon Dec 30, 2013 4:37 am

Willie, are you saying that the new make is trucked off in stainless steel to later be placed in oaken mangers?
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Willie JJ » Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:37 pm

Indeed. Unromantic as it sounds, that is the practice at many distilleries.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby tollickd » Wed Jan 01, 2014 5:26 pm

I was understanding that distillery x had casks that did not meet the quality they want and then offered these to the independent bottlers
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Willie JJ » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:12 pm

I don't think the independents would be interested in casks that are effectively rejects from the distillers and the top notch quality of many indie casks gives the lie to such a scenario. The reality is that there are more than 20 million casks under bond in Scotland and vast quantities of these are traded between companies so that they can have the appropriate variety of malts for their blending operations, which is where 90% of Scotch business takes place. The intermediaries in this trade are the brokers who are also willing to sell to independent bottlers. The independent bottlers request samples from these brokers and select the ones they want for their bottling operations.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby ZacRob76 » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:48 am

Maybe this is the best place to ask: does anyone know what site is the source for MACGAVIN's "Islay" offering? The box says it's from a "distillery known for its mild undertones of peat: imagine a flavor that is mossy rather than heavily peated." My first thought had been Caol Ila, but I swear it drinks like a young Laphroaig. Any ideas? :headbang:
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby The Third Dram » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:29 pm

ZacRob76 wrote:...I swear it drinks like a young Laphroaig...

You're certainly not the only individual to have mentioned a Laphroaig connection. Witness the following by one Ernie Ayres:

"If I had to speculate, I would say that this is low grade, maybe even very young Laphroaig."

However, Mr. Ayres then goes on to say:

"This is not nearly as complex or peaty as other Islay whiskies, but a very good introduction to someone that may have rejected a smokier scotch in the past."

The inherent contradiction of these two statements (I would think a young Laphroaig would likely display a greater intensity of marine and peat) leads me to believe that Laphroaig is NOT the source.

Bowmore could represent the next logical alternative. However, with two lines of Islay whiskies already emanating from the owners (Bowmore proper and McClelland's), not to mention the medium phenolic levels employed for that site's malt, I'm somewhat doubtful.

Bruichladdich is a slight possibility. But I think Bunnahabhain might be a better bet, given it has (in recent times) utilized more heavily peated malt only in rare instances.

Have you tasted any of the 12-year old Bunnahabhain from Burn Stewart? A direct comparison between that whisky and MacGavin's would be enlightening.
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Re: Questions about independent bottles ?

Postby Ganga » Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:58 pm

I've had a bottle or two of the McGavin's. I believe it to be Bowmore. It readily compares to the bottles of McClelland's I've tried. I compare it more to a wood smoke than the peat smoke that I get with CI and Laphroaig.
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