The 'brand' name on a bottle of single malt whisky is usually the name of the distillery
where that whisky was produced - or the independent bottler that brought it to the market.
The naming conventions for so-called 'vatted malts' (blends of malt whiskies from various
malt whisky distilleries) and 'bastard malts' (single malt whiskies distilled at an undisclosed
distillery) are not as restrictive. The brand name on a bottle of single malt whisky is tied to
the reputation of a distillery or bottler - they’ll want to try and avoid embarrassment...
Walk into any specialised liquor store and your eyes and brain will be dazzled by the
hundreds of different bottles on their ‘whisky’ or ‘whiskey’ shelves. It is helpful to know
a little bit about the malt whisky brands when you are shopping for whisky - after all,
you would not want to go home with a grain whisky or blended whisky, would you?
Did I just claim that reputations are still important for single malts?
Well, this used to be the case during most of the 20th century when there
was one thing that set single malt Scotch whisky apart from many other
whiskies: the time it had spent maturing in its cask. An investment in a cask
of malt whisky usually meant the capital was tied up for at least a decade.
But we’re living in the 21st century now. Or at least we’re trying to...
Most malt whisky distilleries are now owned by large corporations.
Their managers and shareholders are not always thinking about the
quality of the whisky or the brand’s reputation in 10 or 20 years time.
Next quarter’s bottom line is far more important to most of them...
One symptom of this short term thinking was the extension of the
portfolios of many brands with more ‘no age statement’ expressions.
At the same time, many inferior casks that would have been used for
grain whisky in the past are now used for maturing malt whiskies.
As a result, the large QUALITY GAP that used to exist between
malt whisky and blended whisky is gradually shrinking.
I’ve crammed as many malt whisky brands is I could into this
page and the page that covers the A-I whisky brands - but I was
forced to leave some names out. Check out the Whisky Lexicon
for a complete overview of all whisky brands and phrases I know.
Please let me know if you know of something I’ve missed.
The Kilchoman distillery was founded in 2005 on the isle of Islay by Anthony Wills.
The name Kilkerran is used for the malt whisky that's distilled at Glengyle distillery.
Killyloch was the name of one of the two 'brands' distilled at the Glen Flagler distillery.
The Kinclaith distillery was part of the Strathclyde grain whisky distillery in Glasgow.
The brand Kingsbury is rarely seen on European shelves, most bottles end up in Japan.
Although the Kininvie distillery was active since 1990, a single malt was never marketed.
The Knockando distillery closed 10 months after whisky production started in May 1899.
The whisky that's distilled at the Knockdhu is released under the name 'An Cnoc'.
In the 1990's Macallan was a favourite, but my feelings changed after the 'Fine Oak'.
MacDuff is an alternative name for the Glen Deveron distillery and some of its whiskies.
The independent bottler Maltbarn was founded by ex-maniac Martin Diekmann.
The 'Malt Trust' seems to be a small independent American bottler from Miami.
The Mannochmore distillery was obscure within Diageo, until they released Loch Dhu.
The name 'Master of Malt' may sound a tad pretentious, but some releases are great.
The McKillop's Choice (or MacKillop's Choice) range is a series from Angus Dundee.
Located in Inverness, Millburn was the first of 3 distilleries in the town (founded 1807).
The bottler Milroy's of Soho is an independent bottler AND an on-line whisky shop too.
Miltonduff was established in 1824, shortly after the Excise Act legalised distillation.
The Moët Hennessy corporation is part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate.
The brand Montgomerie's is owned by independent bottler Angus Dundee.
Montrose was a grain whisky distillery that operated at Hillside / Glenesk for a while.
Like many of the top bottlers from the past, Moon Import is from Italy. Bottlings are rare.
The name suggests pedigree, but until recently the name was ‘Scottish Liqueur Centre’.
When Mortlach was built in 1823, distillation had just become socially acceptable.
Mosstowie was the name of the whisky made with 'Lomond Stills' at Miltonduff distillery.
Independent bottler Murray McDavid is linked with the Bruichladdich distillery on Islay.
Master of Malt
Milroy's of Soho
Morrison & Mackay
The Ladybank project started off ambitiously, but fizzled out soon afterwards.
Because Ladyburn only operated between 1966 and 1976, bottlings are hard to find.
Lagavulin distillery is the birthplace of the malt that kindled my passion for whisky.
The people at Laphroaig distinguish themselves (partly) by an uneven number of stills.
Ledaig isn't actually a distillery name; it's a peated malt whisky from Tobermory distillery.
When Linkwood was founded, the Excise Act (= lagalisation) hadn't been passed yet.
Linlithgow was the old (or alternative) name for the Saint Magdalene distillery.
The Littlemill distillery was located between Highlands and Lowlands regions.
Loch Dhu is the name of 'black whisky', a single malt produced at Mannochmore distillery.
The people behind Loch Ewe make a big deal about the fact that they have a tiny still.
The name Lochindaal has been used for 'bastard bottlings' of Bruichladdich on Islay.
Loch Lomond is a relatively young distillery with a crew that's not afraid to experiment.
One feature of Lochnagar distillery is the fact that they can use 'Royal' in their name.
The Lochside distillery was rebuilt in 1957. It produced both malt and grain whisky.
Lombard are (I quote) 'suppliers of bulk whisky to the trade in tankers & drums'.
Longmorn was founded in 1895 by John Duff. He built Glenlossie two decades earlier.
The Longrow distillery doesn't actually exist - it is a 'brand' from Springbank distillery.
The abbreviation LVMH means Louis Vuitton / Moët Hennessey, the owners of Ardbeg.
Number 1 Drinks
Old Malt Cask
Praban Na Linne
Scotch Malt Whisky Soc.
Single & Single
Vintage Malt Whisky Co.
Whyte & Mackay
William Grant & Sons
Wilson & Morgan
Saint Magdalene is one of few distilleries pre-dating the Excise Act.
Italian bottler Samaroli was a pioneer and built a solid reputation.
The Scapa distillery on Orkney closed its ownmaltings in the 1960's.
The SMW Society is a bottler that works with subscriptions for its members.
The person who selects Scott's Selection bottlings is Robert Scott.
Italian bottler Sestante stopped in 1990. (Later: 'Silver Seal').
Signatory Vintage is one of the most prolific independent bottlers.
The Silver Seal brand was launched by the people of 'Sestante'.
Single & Single is a fairly exclusive range of single malt whiskies.
The name Singleton is used for Dufftown / Glendullan / Glen Ord.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a bottler and a whisky club.
The founders of Speyburn distillery got production started in 1897.
Names don't come more generic than that of Speyside distillery.
Springbank distillery was built in 1828 in Campbeltown.
The Strathisla distillery is arguably the most picturesque distillery.
Before Strathmill became a distillery, it used to be a corn mill.
Stronachie is a 'replica' of the whisky from a distillery that closed in 1928.
The SWA (Scotch Whisky Association) isn't a 'brand', but a lobby.
German bottler Jack Wieber has released a series with great noses but poor palates.
Independent bottler James McArthur was prominent in the 1990's, but not these days.
Jean Boyer is a French independent bottler, founded in 1993 to produce aniseed spirits.
The brand ‘John’ Milroy has been used by a few different independent bottlers.
The name Jura is mostly used these days for the distillery that was known as 'Isle of Jura'.
After some impressive initial releases, Belgian bottler The Nectar is now ‘coasting’.
The North Port distillery has also been known under the name 'Brechin' in the past.
The Number One Drinks Company is specialised in top notch Japanese malt whiskies.
Oban distillery is located off the beaten track, in a harbor town in the Western Highlands.
They rejuvenated the Old Fettercairn distillery - now it's simply known as 'Fettercairn'.
The Old Malt Cask series from Douglas Laing was introduced in the late 1990's.
The Old Pulteney distillery is the most northerly distillery on the mainland of Scotland.
Old Rosdhu is one of the many different brands produced by the Loch Lomond distillery.
The name Octomore is used for a heavily peated whisky from the Bruichladdich distillery.
Pacific Spirits owns Inver House, which in turn owns five distilleries.
The Pernod Ricard company has grown into one of the biggest whisky producers.
Pittyvaich opened its doors in 1975 as a sister distillery to Dufftown. It closed in 1993.
The name Port Charlotte is a little confusing; it's only a 'brand' of Bruichladdich so far..
There were two Lowland distilleries named Port Dundas; both were closed long ago.
The Port Ellen distillery on Islay was closed, but the maltings still supply many distilleries.
Praban Na Linne was founded in 1976 by Sir Iain Noble on the Isle of Skye.
The range McGibbon's Provenance is a series from independent bottler Douglas Laing.
Just like Fettercairn, Pulteney is also known with the suffix 'Old' tagged onto its name.
Rosebank in the Lowlands was mothballed in 1993, leaving just two others in operation.
Roseisle was the first distillery to be built since Allt-a-Bhainne (1975) and Auchroisk (1974).
Royal Brackla is a Northen Highland distillery that's classified as a Speysider by some.
The Royal Lochnagar distillery was one of many founded when the Excise Act was passed.
Talisker onSkye produces a 10yo expression that is part of the 'Classic Malts'.
The Tamdhu distillery was designed by architect Charles Doig and constructed in 1896.
Tamnavulin produces malts for blends like Mackinlay, Whyte & Mackay and Crawfords.
Until 1962 Teaninich distillery operated on a steam engine and the pair of water wheels.
The name of The Bottlers is misleading - it's actually just a single independent bottler.
The Ileach is the name for a 'bastard' bottling - as well as the local newspaper on Islay.
The Ultimate is a range of independent bottlings by Dutch whisky importer Van Wees.
When Tobermory was founded in 1798 it was under the name 'Ledaig' ('safe haven').
Tomatin distillery has a massive production capacity; 5,000,000 litres of alcohol / year.
In the past Tomintoul mostly produced malt whisky for blends, but not anymore.
The Tormore distillery was founded in 1960, roughly half a mile from the river Spey.
Being built in 1949, Tullibardine was one of the first distilleries of the 20th century.
The Whisky Agency seems to be a successor for German bottler 'The Whisky Fair'
The Whisky Exchange from Sukhinder Singh is both a bottler and an on-line store.
The Whisky Fair (related to 'The Whisky Agency') is a bottler that organises a fair too.
The ‘Ultimate’ brand is used by Dutch importer and bottler Van Wees.
The full name of UD is United Distillers & Vintners (UDV); now part of Diageo.
VMWC is the bottler behind brands like Cooper’s Choice, Finlaggan and Ileach.
The ‘Warhead’ is a vatted malt: a lot of Glenfiddich and just a little Balvenie.
Wemyss Malts seems to be a ‘family bottler’, but they’re investing heavily.
Westport isn't a household name; it's Glenmorangie 'polluted' with Glen Moray.
Bottler ‘The Whisky Agency’ started life as a whisky event: ‘The Whisky Fair’.
German bottler Whisky Doris began as a regular whisky store.
Whizita is another whisky shop in Germany that began bottling its own whisky.
Scottish company Whyte & Mackay Ltd. is now controlled by foreign owners.
The ‘family owned’ William Grant is one of Scotland’s largest whisky producers.
Independent bottler Wilson & Morgan from Italy has sourced some great casks.
This list of malt whisky brands isn’t exhaustive. If you’re looking for a particularly obscure brand,
you might find some more information in the Whisky Lexicon which offers much more room for details.
There is also a specific page on MM with an overview of the Scotch whisky bottlers working these days.
The overview of the whisky industry shows which company or corporation owns which distillery while
the location of each distillery can be found on the interactive whisky map of Scotland. I hope to finish
the refurbishment of all Scotch whisky distillery profiles soon and for novices the Beginner’s Guide
offers 10 chapters with information to help you navigate the wild waves of the whisky world.