Whisky Magazine Issue 55
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Aberko is a small independent bottler, Ian Buxton investigates...
The life of the independent bottler seems all but ideal: stroll round a few of the more interesting distilleries tasting their whiskies, select a particularly fine cask, develop your own distinctive packaging, get it bottled, persuade some discerning retailer it's what they need to grace their shelves and watch the profits roll in.
The grass always seems greener, doesn't it?
But perhaps the independent bottling lark is a great deal harder than it looks. After all, the distillers have woken up to the potential value in those great old casks; small runs of packaging and bottling are prohibitively expensive; retailers are notoriously hard boiled and the great buying public is famously fickle. The profits may not be quite as fat as first thought.
So when you meet one of these optimists, you have to take the chance to ask him just what he thinks he is doing. So it was with Paul Aston of Aberko, owners of Black Top blended Scotch, the Deerstalker range of single malts and the venerable Hutchisons Spiced Ginger Wine.
Paul seemed a nice enough chap, and hard working. After all, as managing director of a small independent bottler you'd better forget the airs and graces of high office and smartly become a jack of all trades.
Forget the ranks of assistants, brand managers, sales folk and all the production bods you find in corporate life, if you want a letter posted you do it yourself – after you've typed it, put it in the envelope, stuck the stamp on and walked down to the post ...