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Issue 50 - The state of independents

Whisky Magazine Issue 50
September 2005


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The state of independents

How good are the independent bottling companies? We decided to find out in our biggest ever tasting – more than 175 entrants in 24 categories,judged by nine judges over seven weeks. Dominic Roskrow reports

Every two years Whisky Magazine holds its Best of the Best competition, when the best 40 whiskies from the previous two years are tasted by about 100 judges in Tokyo, Dublin,Kentucky,Glasgow and London.

And every two years we have the debate: should independent bottlers be included?

Arguments in favour: they produce great whisky, we have tasted and scored it, people have a right to know how it compares to the official bottlings.

Big argument against: by the time we get round to publishing the results some of the bottles are more than two years old and long gone. It's like saying we've had it, it's great, you can't.

Solution: official bottlings only.

But to ignore independent bottlers altogether would be a major disservice. The sector – not without its critics – is, as one might expect, a mish-mash of styles and standards.But there are a number of very shrewd operators in the sector providing enthusiasts with some wonderful whiskies.The independent bottlers are playing a crucial role in maintaining and stimulating drinkers'interests,and it is only right and proper that the best of them be recognised for this.

So an emergency editorial meeting was held.

Basically, Broom and I. And we came up with this – the first Independent Bottlers'Challenge.

Pretty simple really. Eight categories, three different age statements in each – 24 categories in all.Each company could enter just one whisky in each category, a maximum of 24 bottles in all.

Each could enter as many ca...

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