The outstanding contribution of Scott's Selection range to independent bottling

The outstanding contribution of Scott's Selection range to independent bottling

In this month's column, Whisky Auctioneer's Joe Wilson takes a look back at industry veteran Robert Scott's Selection brand.

Auction News with Joe Wilson | 31 May 2024 | By Joe Wilson

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With the tsunamic wave of new whisky distilling companies that have popped up across the industry since the turn of the century, we have become increasingly accustomed to the various practices employed by these businesses to generate revenue in the years before the coming-of-age of their first casks. Some distillers have produced and marketed other spirits, like the popular Isle of Harris gin. Particularly popular in the US and Ireland is the creation of brands bottled using whiskies sourced elsewhere, with names like Michter’s and Teeling being notable success stories. While at the other end of the spectrum is the lesser-seen Daftmill approach – just simply waiting.

 

This is far from a 21st century development however, and while closures were more common than new developments in the decades prior, there were some companies attempting to buck that trend. The most notable example is the Speyside Distillers Company, more for its struggle to do so than anything else. First conceived by George Christie in 1955, the ill-fated project took over 30 years to complete, with building work only finished in 1987 and distilling not beginning until another three years after that.

 

With the closure in 1980 of its grain whisky-producing sister distillery, North of Scotland, Christie found himself in need of new income for the Speyside Distillers Company project. This was achieved by marketing blended Scotch and the man in charge of creating these was industry veteran, Robert Scott. Revered for his abilities as a “noser,” Scott began reserving casks that his senses deemed too good for blending.

 

The result of this was the launch of the Scott’s Selection brand, a collection of independent single cask bottlings released through the Alexander Muir & Son subsidiary between 1996 and 2012. Whisky Auctioneer is delighted to feature a 24-bottle retrospective of these in our May 2024 sale, demonstrating the rich variety, quality, and historical intrigue within casks selected for the range. Highlights include, naturally, rare examples of North of Scotland single grain, whiskies from silent malt distillers like North Port and St. Magdalene, and a pair of sherry-matured 1970s vintages from Longmorn. Perhaps most interesting of all is a cask of blended malt and grain whisky from Lochside, distilled in 1964 during the final year of its brief “blended at birth” experiment which saw the two spirit types vatted prior to being casked.

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of the Scott’s Selection range showcases its native Speyside region – but its real revelation is the fascinating range and quality of casks that were still available to blending companies at this time. It is also a testament to Robert Scott’s foresight and skill that he saw fit to reserve these, many of which are now highly sought-after. As whisky lovers, we all want to see whisky distillers doing what they do best: bottling their own whisky. However, we must also appreciate the time and care it takes to do this. As intermediary activities go, the production of the Scott’s Selection bottlings was not only one of the earliest, but it remains one of the finest contributions to the independent bottling scene as a whole.

 

This article is sponsored by Whisky Auctioneer and was created in partnership with the team at Whisky Magazine. This sponsorship does not influence Whisky Magazine's coverage of auctions and Whisky Auctioneer do not have input on editorial decisions.

About Whisky Auctioneer

Whisky Auctioneer is one of the global market leaders and trusted authorities on the buying and selling of whisky and spirits at auction. Founded in 2013 and located in Perth, Whisky Auctioneer utilises its expertise and knowledge combined with its auction platform, to increase interest and passion in the whisky and spirits community.

 

Whisky Auctioneer endeavours to make the market more accessible for buyers and sellers of any background and geography. Its monthly global auctions feature some of the most comprehensive selections of old, rare and collectible whiskies and spirits available online.

 

Whisky Auctioneer became the first online auction house to sell a million-pound bottle and outperformed the nearest traditional auction house by 200 per cent in value from spirits sales in 2020, showcasing the move that whisky collectors, investors and drinkers have already made online and firmly establishing their leading position within the modern secondary whisky market.

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