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Issue 43 - Independentspirit

Whisky Magazine Issue 43
October 2004

 

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Independentspirit

Independentbottlershavedriveninnovationintheindustry.Butwhatfuturedotheyhave? IanWisniewskiinvestigates

AlongsideafewpioneerssuchasTheGlenfiddichandTheGlenlivet,privatebottlerswereinstrumentalinhelpingtodevelopthemalt
whiskymarket.

Duringthe1980s,forexample,variousmaltswereonlyavailablefromindependentbottlers.Butwithmoredistilleriesreleasingabroaderrangeofexpressions,themarkethascompletelychanged.So,whatarethecurrentprospectsforindependentbottlers?

Butfirstlet'sdefineindependentbottlersasmeaninganyonereleasingmaltsunderabrandname,whilealsostipulatingthedistilleryoforigin(distinctfromcompaniesbottlingunderabrandnamewithnomentionofadistillery).Amoreliteraldefinitioncouldincludeowningabottling
line,whichappliestoaminoritysuchasGordon&MacPhail,Signatory,IanMacleodandDouglasLaing.

Afewindependentbottlers,includingGordon&MacPhail,DouglasLaingandIanMacleod,purchasenewmakespiritagedeitheratthedistilleryoradistillery'scentralisedwarehousing.It'seffectivelyacaseofrentingwarehousespaceduringmaturation.

Extensivemaltfillings,originallyintendedtoprovideagoodselectionofmaltsforuseinblends,haveprovidedindependentbottlerssuchasIanMacleodDistillersandDouglasLaingwithabroadrangeofstock.

“We'vegot70,000-80,000caskstochoosefrom,that'sthereasonwebecameindependentbottlers,andwestartedbottlingChieftain'sChoiceforJapaninthe1970s,”saysLeonardRussellofIanMacleod,whichwasformedin1936.Similarly,DouglasLaingbenefitsfromafillingprogrammeestablishedin1948,withthecompanybottlingsinglemaltssince1998.Otherindependentspurchasematuremalts,whichmaythenbebottledusingathird-party.

“Wesourcethefinestmatur...

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