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Issue 81 - Independently minded

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009


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Independently minded

Being independent certainly has its advantages but what opportunities and challenges do Independent bottlers currently face? Ian Wisniewski finds out.

Independent bottlers were instrumental in developing the malt whisky market,and during the 1980s for example, various malts were only available from independent bottlers. But with numerous distilleries now offering extended portfolios, supplemented by limited-edition releases,what role does this leave for the independent bottling sector?

“Without a doubt the main role of independent bottlers is to be a creative driving force for the industry, I don't mean doing wacky things, but bringing Scotch whisky to market in new and compelling ways,”says John Glaser of Compass Box.

So,what are the opportunities?

Are independent bottlers restricted to filling in the age gaps between proprietary bottlings, or are the possibilities more comprehensive ?

“We don't look at what proprietary bottlings are on the market, if we find that a distillery is bottling a 12 Years Old that won't stop us from bottling one too, if it's exceptional quality people will buy it,”says Frances Dupuy of A D Rattray.

Michael Urquhart of Gordon & MacPhail continues:“We don't want to compete,we look to complement the proprietary range. We look to give consumers the widest possible choice, everyone's palate is different,and everyone wants to try a different expression of a particular whisky.” The first step is of course acquiring the necessary stock, either as new make spirit for aging, or mature malt whisky ready for bottling. But how easy,or challenging, is this ?

“Two years ago it was harder to...

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