These were the names of the main Scotch whisky bottlers - or at least the ones that I know of. You can find the names of many other whisky brands on the the dedicated 'malt whisky brands' page.
The full name is a bit confusing and possibly misleading, considering this really isn't
a distillery, but an independent bottler. There used to be a distillery by that name
(well, by the name Loch Katrine Adelphi - but it was also known as Gorbals) but
that was closed in 1907. The slightly misleading name really bugs me, because the
high quality of most of their whiskies and the friendly people working there make it
an otherwise admirable company. More information on www.adelphidistillery.com.
Dewar Rattray was founded (some would claim it was re-founded) in the year 2004 by
Tim Morrison who had been connected with Bowmore in the past. They had to change
their name to A. D. Rattray recently to avoid confusion with the well known Dewar's
brand. Their portfolio includes a range of independent bottlings, but especially in the
beginning most of their efforst were focused on their Stronachie bastard malt whisky
(which is most likely actually made at the Benrinnes distillery). According to their site:
"Today the company's principal purpose is to bottle unusual and exclusive casks of Scotch
Whisky, with each one chosen to reflect the different styles of the (...) regions of Scotland. Whether from Mr Morrison's own stock or independently sourced, only casks (...) of
exceptional quality are bottled under the (...) label and released into selected markets.".
Angus Dundee is an independent bottler and blender from London with more than fifty years
of experience in the whisky world. In the past their focus has been mainly on blended whisky,
but in recent years they acquired two malt whisky distilleries; Glencadam and Tomintoul. One
of their 'flagship' brands is the Glen Parker 'bastard malt' (= a single malt from an undisclosed
distillery). They also produce independent bottlings under the names Mackillop's Choice and
Montgomerie's (and possibly also the generic MacKullick's Choice brand that I found in a French
supermarket. Those are available in a number of markets, but in some countries (like Holland)
expressions are diffucult to find. With the possible exception of their Montgomerie's brand, the
focus of the company seems to be mostly on fairly generic 'volume' whiskies.
Although the 'Bacardi' brand is most famous for their mass marketed
rums, they also have interests in the Scotch whisky industry via their
subsidiary John Dewar & Sons. Bacardi currently owns five malt whisky
distileries; Aberfeldy, Aultmore, Craigellachie, MacDuff & Royal Brackla.
The production of single malts is only a minor part of the activities of
Bacardi; the company sells more than 200 million bottles of liquor per
year, with a total value of more than $5.500.000.000,- USD in 2007.
Bacardi is the fifth largest producer of Scotch malt whisky.
Bacardi has diversified their liquor portfolio in recent years. In 1992
they acquired Martini & Rossi, the producer of Martini vermouth and
sparkling wines. In 1998, Bacardi acquired John Dewar & Sons, as
well as Bombay Sapphire gin for $2 billion. Other brands in Bacardi's
'stable' include Amaretto di Saronno and Drambuie whisky liqueur.
The Beam Global company is owned by Fortune Brands
- a huge holding company
that was founded in 1969 as 'American Brands'. They own a variety of different
companies in many different branches, including tobacco, office supplies, golf
products and spirits. Some of their spirit brands include Jim Beam, Knob Creek,
Maker's Mark, Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow, Canadian Club, Teacher's, Sauza Tequila,
Courvoisier, Salignac, DeKuyper, Starbucks Cream Liqueur, Cockburn's port,
Harveys sherry, Laphroaig and Ardmore. Beam Global Spirits & Wine is one of
the world's big players in the spirits market, but they play a fairly minor role
in the Scotch whisky world with only 2 whisky distilleries. Still, measured by
production capacity, Beam Global is in the top 10 of Scotch malt whisky producers.
The Berry Brothers company has a
long and proud history in the wine world, but
they've also been dabbling in whisky for many years. Their little old store in the
heart of London is a sight for sore eyes; very little seems to have changed in the
more than three centuries since the company was founded in 1698. Since 1760,
the company are official suppliers to the British royal household. Apart from their
famous blended whisky 'Cutty Sark' , Berry Brothers's malt whisky portfolio also
includes a range of independent bottlings, as well as two series of 'vatted malts';
Berry's All Malt and Berry's Pure Malt. The Berry Brothers & Rudd company also
has long lasting ties to the Glenrothes distillery in Speyside. You can find more
information about the Berry Brothers & Rudd company on www.bbr.com.
I love the British television series by the same name, but there's a virtual smudge
on Blackadder's label though: their 'Raw Cask' series. The unique trait of these
bottlings is that they all have a lot of debris in them; supposedly the debris that
comes from the cask and that's usually removed by chill filtration. Sounds charming,
until you realise that it takes a LOT of effort to get some debris in each bottle...
Apart from that, I like this whisky brand a lot - and the same goes for their 'sister
brand' Clydesdale. You can find more information on www.blackadder.com.
The Burn Stewart company used to be based in London, England - but
after acquiring a few Scottish malt whisky distilleries they relocated to the
Glasgow area. They now own the Bunnahabhain & Deanston distilleries,
as well as the Tobermory / Ledaig distilleries, as well as blend brands like
Black Bottle and Scottish Leader. The Burn Stewart company is owned by
CL World Brands Limited, a daughter company of CL Financial from Trinidad.
Other brands include Angustora (rum and bitters) and Hine (cognac).
Cadenhead's is arguably Scotland's oldest independent bottler - it was founded
almost two centuries ago (in 1842) in Aberdeen. One viable question is if the
company that was founded by Wm. Cadenhead and G. Duncan was actually a
'bottler' in the modern sense of the word - blending hadn't been invented yet
and there was no single malt culture like we have today. In fact, most distilleries
that exist today were not even founded yet... In 1972, the company was taken
over by the owners of the Springbank distillery who moved their main offices
and bottling facilities to Campbeltown, close to the whisky warehouses.
Apart from the 'home' store in Campbeltown, Cadenhead's have shops in London, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Koln.
The Cadenhead's store in Amsterdam was unfortunately closed in 2008. 'Duthie's' used to be a sub-brand of Cadenhead's until circa 1994. The name of the range was inspired by Robert W. Duthie, Cadenhead's manager between 1904 and 1931. The brand wasn't used for 15 years, but these days bottlings are available again.
Celtic Whisky Company is a French independent bottler that was founded
in 1997. As a French company they have access to a wide variety of wine
casks, so it's no surprise that they were one of the pioneers of finishing
among the independent bottlers. In fact, rumour has it that they were the
first to ever use an ex-Sauternes cask for the finishing of whisky. In 2004
they've also built their own distillery in Brittany; Glann ar Mor . Many of
their whiskies have been aged in Scotland for at least 3 years before
being shipped off to France for additional maturation. More information
about the Celtic WHisky COmpany can be found on www.celtic-whisky.com.
It's an odd one out in this overview of (mostly) independent bottlers, but because these pages
are visited by novices as well, I thought I should mention Scotland's largest whisky producer.
Diageo was born in 1997 out of a merger between Guinness PLC and Grand Metropolitan PLC...
Diageo owns almost 30 malt whisky distilleries, as well as two grain whisky distilleries. Some of
their more famous single malt distilleries are Lagavulin, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Talisker,
Caol Ila, Cardow, Dufftowen, Glendullan, Glen Ord, Glenkinchie, Knoackando, Oban & Mortlach.
Some of their well known 'blend' brands are Johnnie Walker, J&B, Bell's, Black & White, Vat 69,
Haig and White Horse. In 2009, Diageo received a lot of criticism for firing hundreds of their
employees in Scotland despite record profits of 2,5 billion GBP.
The Douglas Laing bottling company was founded in 1949 by Fred Douglas Laing. They started
out as blenders but began bottling single malt whiskies in 1999. They have released thousands
of different single malts in series like 'Old Malt Cask', 'Platinum', 'Advanced Samples', 'Premier
Barrel', 'McGibbon's Provenance' and 'Clan Denny'. They managed to quickly build a strong
reputation with excellent and affordable whiskies in their 'OMC' range (particularly with some
stellar expressions from the Ardbeg and Brora distilleries) but they've seem to have sold most
of their good stuff now. [Addendum: The Laing brothers parted ways in 2013 and split the company.]
Dun Bheagan is a range of independent bottlings from the Ian MacLeod
company. They started out as vatted malts from various regions (Islay,
Highlands, etc.), but in recent years (since 1997) more and more proper
single malts were released with the 'Dun Bheagan' label. Chill filtration
seems to be avoided with all their bottlings. The labels of recent single
malt bottlings also carry the number of the cask(s) and the number of
bottles they managed to extract from the cask(s).
The basis of the current Duncan Taylor company was the collection of
Mr. Abe Rosenberg
and two of his brothers. In a partnership with Charlie Guttman he managed to make the J&B
brand a huge success in the USA. He owned several companies, including (from the early
1960's) Duncan Taylor & Co. Ltd., especially set up to obtain casks of Scotch (malt and grain)
whisky. When Abe passed away in 1994 the company had collected almost 4,000 casks.
The company was run by a trust for a number of years until Euan Shand and Alan Gordon
bought Duncan Taylor in 2002. The business was relocated from New York to Huntly in
Scotland and the brand quickly established itself on the Scotch malt whisky scene.
A few of Duncan Taylor's series are 'Whisky Galore', 'Peerless' and 'Rarest of the Rare'.
The Edrington Group was founded well over a century ago (in 1865) in Glasgow
by William A. Robertson. His offspring (the sisters Agnes, Elspeth and Ethel)
established the charitable Robertson Trust in 1961. The sisters inherited a
controlling interest in the Robertson & Baxter and Clyde Bonding Company
and changed the name to Edrington - also the name of their family estate in
the Borders region of Scotland. In 1999 the Edrington Group Limited bought
Highland Distilleries for £600,000,000, giving them control over the Macallan,
Highland Park and Glenrothes malt whisky distilleries, as well as The Famous
Grouse and Cutty Sark blended whiskies. Due to the sometimes odd ownership
relations in the Scotch whisky industry, the independent bottler Berry Brothers
also has some involvement with the Cutty Sark brand. I have to admit that I'm
not entirely sure about the details - I'll add those if and when I find out...
Gordon & MacPhail was founded in 1895 by James Gordon and John Mac
Phail. The bottler (located in Elgin, Speyside) is in a league of its own
when it comes to independent bottlings. For one thing, they are the only
bottler that has released many 'semi-official' bottlings in the past too.
During the 1990's G&M bottled the whisky from (among others) Ardmore,
Imperial, Inverleven and Glentauchers when the owners didn't bother
with releasing an official bottling of their own. Gordon & MacPhail's
warehouse is massive and they have stocks of virtually every single
malt whisky that was produced in recent decades.
The grocery store in Elgin that started it all still exists - and still sells groceries.
But they sell a LOT of Gordon & MacPhail (and other) whiskies as well. G&M has bottled many different brands and series in ther past, including 'Connoisseurs Choice', 'Speymalt', 'Spirit of Scotland', 'G&M Reserve' and 'MacPhail's Collection'. Gordon & MacPhail produced many 'bastard malts' like Glen Avon and Glen Gordon as well, and acquired their own Benromach distillery in 2002. More info: www.gordonandmacphail.com.
Donald and Iain Hart founded the company 'Hart Brothers' in 1964 and they were joined in
1975 by their brother Alistair. They started out as wine and spirit wholesalers and Scotch
whisky blenders but gradually evolved into an independent bottler. If I'm not mistaken, they
entered the market as independent bottlers in the second half of the 1990's. Their main
brand is the 'Hart Brothers Finest Collection' but they carry several other brands as well,
like the 'Collection Dunvegan' for the Societe Dugas in Paris, France. According to their site;
"Hart Brothers trace their origins in the licensed trade back to the late 19th century when the
family were licensed victualers and publicans in Paisley, the mill town on the outskirts of Glasgow.
However, it was not until 1964 that brothers Iain and Donald Hart incorporated the company".
The name of this company is so long that I had to use the abbreviation
H&ISWCL on the button on this page. Their brands include 'The Ileach'
(a young peat monster, probably Lagavulin), the 'Black Cullin' (an island
malt with an 8yo age statement, probably Talisker because it's named
after the Cullin Hills on Skye) and 'The Pibroch' (a twelve years old
single malt whisky, also from Islay).
The company Ian MacLeod was founded in 1936 by Leonard J. Russel.
Their output exceeds ten million bottles of whiskies each year, which makes them one
of the bigger players in the field. Their brands include Chieftain's (in the past it was
marketed under the full name 'Chieftain's Choice), the Shieldaig Collection, MacLeod's,
Hedges & Butler, Dun Bheagan, As We Get It, Dunfife, Glenshire, King Robert II,
Smokehead, Isle of Skye and Langs. Apart from a sizeable collection of casks (Ian
MacLeod supposedly owns over 20,000 casks of maturing whisky from many different
distilleries) Ian MacLeod obtained their own distillery a few years ago; Glengoyne.
Since they acquired Glengoyne in 2003, the quality of the distillery's output has
improved significantly. Ian MacLeod also owns a large bottling plant at Broxburn
where they bottle other spirits like gin, vodka and rum.
This independent bottler (founded in 1982) nearly didn't make it to this list; many of
the bottlings in their range were sub-standard (at least in my humble opinion) and the
shortage of useful information on most of James McArthur's labels is very frustrating for
malt maniacs that want to know as much as possible about what they're drinking.
For example, crucial details like the year of distillation or bottling are usually missing.
Also, the labels don't specify if colouring or chill filtration was used. Thanks to these
idiosyncrasies the brand is not as interesting as some others from the perspective of
malt whisky aficionado's. The main series of James MacArthur's is the 'Old Masters'
range (sometimes spelled as 'Old Master's' with an apostrophe). In recent years they
started adding a vintage and a bottling year to the labels of most of these releases.
This small French bottling company was founded in 1993 with the idea to bottle pastis,
absinth and anisette. However, its founder had already started importing single malt
whiskies to France in the 1970's and it wasn't long before the new company picked up
this old business again as an independent bottler. Some series in their portfolio are
'Best Casks of Scotland', 'Gifted Stills' and 'One Shot'. The company also has its own
blended whisky, called 'Dhun Mhor'. Since 2010, Jean Boyer also has an actual website.
Lombard is quite possibly the only independent bottler with its main offices on the Isle of Man.
The company is a family business with almost 300 years of experience in the wine and whisky
trade - although the company Lombard Scotch Whisky Ltd. was not actually established until
the 1960's. The company became involved with whisky via the brewery business. Initially they
dealt exclusively with maturing whiskies for blending companies, but in the 1990's malt whisky
became so popular that they started building their own stocks of mature single malt whisky.
Their main range of single malts is named 'The Jewels of Scotland' - but they also have a
single malt in their portfolio by the name of 'Pebble Beach'. This malt whisky was launched at
Pebble Beach, California, USA on Monday 13th November in 2006. The ABV of bottlings ranges
from 46% to cask strength and they are not chill filtered or artificially coloured. Apart from
single malts their portfolio contains single grains, vatted malts (Anchor Bay, Driftwood, Golden
Harvest, Smoking Ember and Tidal Ebb) and blends (Gold Label and Old Masters).
I've come across a bunch of independent bottlings (actually miniatures) from 'Master
of Malt' during the 1990's, but judging from their website they reinvented themselves
as an on-line whisky shop in recent years. They still carry their own series of
independent bottlings mind you... Watch their site for more - MUCH, MUCH MORE!...
This independent bottler was founded in 1996 by Angus Dundee.
It's named after Lorne Mackillop - "heir to the chief of the Mackillop Clan, which was all
but wiped out by the English in the aftermath of the battle of Culloden in 1745 during the
Jabobite Rebellion". Lorne selects the casks that are bottled in the Mackillop's Choice
range. The bottlings (ABV of 43%, 46% or cask strength) are not artificially coloured or
chill-filtered. The range is not easy to find here in Holland, so I haven't tried that many
different expressions. Impressions so far are mixed. In a supermarket in France I once
found a 'sister brand' with the fanciful name Mackullick's Choice.
I haven't had the privilege of visiting their store in London yet, but as far as
I can tell Milroy's of Soho is both a whisky store and an independent bottler.
The Milroy's of Soho brand should not be confused with the 'John Milroy' brand;
a label from Berry Brothers & Rudd. If I'm not mistaken, Berry Brothers & Rudd
hasn't actually used the John Milroy whisky brand since 2006. That could indicate
that they've dropped the brand altogether, but they haven't confirmed this...
There's actually not a lot of whisky-related information about MoŽt Hennessy,
which is part of the French luxury products conglomerate LVMH. They own part
of the Ardbeg and Glenmorangie distilleries - while Diageo owns the other parts.
It's hardly surprising that prices have skyrocketed since LVMH took over...
Moon Import is one of those legendary independent bottlers from Italy that established
a strong reputation before the rest of the world discovered single malts. I couldn't find a
proper logo of the company, but the labels of some of their series are little works of art.
Moon Import seems mostly dormant nowadays, but ranges from the past include 'In The
Pink' (bottled in 2000), 'Horae Solaris' (bottled in 1998), 'Seven Seas' (bottled in 1997),
'De Viris illustribus' (bottled in 1995), 'Cars' and 'Ships'. Older series are 'Costumes' and
'Animals' (both 1988). I haven't tried a lot of these whiskies myself, but so far it seems
they are more collectible than drinkable...
Murray McDavid was founded in the early 1990's. The company was named after
the grandparents of co-founder Mark Reynier; Harriet Murray and Jack McDavid.
The other founders were Simon Coughlin and Gordon Wright. Gordon was the only
one with experience in the whisky world; Mark and Simon came from the wine
world where they were both involved with 'La Reserve'. Murray McDavid has malt
whisky series like 'Celtic Heartland' and 'Mission' in their malt whisky portfolio.
Murray McDavid was a major investor in the revived Bruichladdich distillery on Islay.
The Number One Drinks Company was founded in 2006 by Marcin Miller to help bring
Japanese whiskies to Europe. Whiskies are sourced in Japan by David Croll before
being judged by a tasting panel. Casks are then purchased, bottled and shipped to
Marcin Miller (founder of Whisky Magazine & the Whisky Live events) in the UK to
be sold to specialist retailers. Their very first bottling was a single malt whisky from
the now defunct Hanyu Distillery. According to their site at www.one-drinks.com they
mostly deal in single malt whiskies from the Chichibu, Karuizawa and Hanyu distilleries.
The name of the Pacific Spirits company is not as widely known as that of their subsidiary
Inver House Distillers. Inver House Distillers Ltd. was founded in 1964 by the American
company Publicker Industries. In the same year they constructed a number of new distilleries
within a single complex in Airdrie, Scotland. Apart from the Garnheath grain whisky distillery
the complex housed the Glen Flagler / Killyloch malt whisky distilleries. The enterprise wasn't
very successful; the stills that made the Killyloch malt whisky ceased production in the early
1970's, Glen Flagler & Garnheath followed about a decade later. The Pacific Spirits company
owns five distilleries in Scotland; Balblair, Balmenach, Knockdhu, Pulteney and Speyburn.
Diageo may be the undisputed number one in the Scotch whisky category, but
Pernod Ricard has a very solid position on the number two spot with (in 2008)
a dozen whisky distilleries and a total production capacity of some 50,000,000
litres of alcohol per year. Through their subsidiary Chivas Brothers they own the
Aberlour, Allt-A-Bhainne, Braeval, Caperdonich, Glenallachie, Glenlivet, Longmorn,
Scapa and Strathisla malt whisky distilleries. Via Allied Domecq (and possibly
other subsidiaries) Pernod also owns Glenburgie, Glencraig, Glen Keith,
Glentauchers, Imperial, Inverleven, Lochside, Miltonduff and Tormore.
This company was founded in 1976 by Sir Iain Noble as an employment project
on the Isle of Skye. It's an odd one out in this overview because bottling single
malts is a fairly insignificant part of the activities of this company. Their main
whisky is 'Te Bheag' - an unchillfiltered 'upmarket' blend with a fairly large
percentage of malt whiskies in the mix. A few years later Praban Na Linne
released 'Mac Na Mara' with a lower malt whisky percentage. Last but not
least there's the 'Poit Dhubh' wich is available as 8, 12 and 21 years old
whisky. The information on the labels deserves an award for coyness - the
whisky in the bottle could be either a single (bastard) malt or a vatted malt...
Based on the view from the shelves of local liquor stores here in Amsterdam, this is
the only name in the list of legendary Italian bottlers that's still active. The company
was founded in 1968 and has built a very solid reputation for selecting the best casks.
Founder Silvano Samaroli has reached a respectable age by now, but he is still
actively involved with the business when I write this.
Like many things concerning the Speyside distillery, details on the related
companies are a tad murky. The company Alexander Muir & Son was founded
in the late 19th century, but it wasn't until the year 2000 that they became
involved with the distillery as one of the investors. The single malts in this range
were chosen by master distiller Robert Scott. Since 2006 the company offers a
second range of single malt whiskies under the name 'Private Cellar'. Apart
from the single malts from other distilleries the single malt fromthe Speyside
distillery has also been available as 'Drumguish' and 'Glentromie'.
Signatory Vintage is one of Scotland's premier independent bottlers. Andrew and
Brian Symington started bottling single malt whiskies in the late 1980's and built their
own bottling plant in Edinburgh in the early 90's. The main 'brand' of Scotland's second
largest independent whisky bottler is Signatory Vintage. The name of the brand and
the company was based on the original idea to have every bottle they would release
signed by a celebrity. Somehow that idea was never implemented, but the name stuck.
Apart from various series within this brand (Un-chillfiltered Collection, Silent Stills, etc.)
the company markets several other brands like 'Scottish Wildlife' (in the 1990's),
'Dun Eideann' (bottled at 40%, mostly for European markets) and 'Prestonfield'
(named after the hotel where the Symington brothers worked in the 1980's) - as well
as the Edradour distillery since 2002.
Silver Seal is considered to be the unofficial 'successor' of the legendary Italian whisky
bottler Sestante that ceased to operate around 1990. The brand kept a low profile
during the 1990's, but from 1999 on they started releasing bottlings again - this time
under the name 'Silver Seal' with the initials 'SS' in a shield over a thistle in their logo.
Immediately after the restart they simply bought bottles of whisky from Douglas Laing
and refilled the contents in their own bottles. These days they buy whole casks...
Single & Single is probably the 'youngest' independent bottler on this list;
they didn't release their first bottling (a sixteen year old Glencadam from
1991) until 2008. Driving force behind the new brand is Yossi Schwarz,
who describes himself as an 'armchair bottler'. The Single & Single releases
are available in the UK, the United States, Canada, Japan & South Africa.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is an odd combination of independent bottler, whisky club,
magazine publisher and franchise organisation. A lot of their bottles are quite good, possibly
because fellow malt maniac Charles MacLean helps with selecting the casks. Their bottlings
of the SMWS are quite expensive though. Furthermore, you have to be able to enjoy their
'Reader's Digest' approach to whisky. After all, somebody else pre-digests the very wide
spectrum of available malt whiskies and chooses a limited selection to be presented to their
customers. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society has franchises in Australia, Austria, Belgium,
France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland,
Taiwan, the UK and the USA. Within the UK, the society organises tasting sessions regularly
and I imagine several international franchises to the same - just Google the name of the
society and you should be able to find a local web site with more information about the club.
In 1999 brothers Sukhinder & Rajbir Singh started the Speciality Drinks Ltd. company
and their online shop www.thewhiskyexchange.com. Since 2005 they've offered their
own range of independent bottlings under the name 'The Single Malts of Scotland'
and in 2009 they introduced their own 'bastard' Islay malt: Port Askaig. The parents
of Sukhinder and Rajbir started a wine & spirits shop in 1973 and Sukhinder started to
collect whisky miniatures in the early 1980's. In 2004 he sold his collection of +/- 4500
mini's and focused on bigger bottles...
Han van Wees is the 'eminence grise' of whisky importing in Holland.
He founded 'The Ultimate' brand in 1994 to help bring affordable single malts to
Dutch whisky lovers. Oddly enough, the bottlings in the range are not usually of
'ultimate' quality - but they often offer very good value. Han's son Maurice has
joined the company some time ago to take over the trade from his father. The
casks for the series are acquired from Signatory Vintage. Their labels offer an
overload of information for the real 'anorak'; cask number, distillation date,
bottling date and even the total number of bottles and unique bottle number.
The whisky Fair isn't just an
annual malt whisky event in Germany, it's
also the name of a brand of independent bottlings from the organisers.
The quality of these bottlings is usually EXCELLENT. Carsten Ehrlich is
also involved with The Whisky Agency and Mara Whisky Rarities - a
retailer with a different portfolio from your average liquorist.
This company was founded in 1992 by Brian Crook, an ex-employee from Bowmore distillery.
Apart from the 'Coopers Choice' range of independent bottlings, the company has several
other brands in its portfolio, including the Finlaggan 'bastard' Islay malt whisky and and the
'Tambowie' vatted malt whisky. During the 1990's they also carried a range of bastard malts
from the main whisky regions under the Vintage label; their Islay expression was a circa
seven years old Lagavulin that offered incredible value for money. Brands and packaging
from the Vintage Malt Whisky Company and the Coopers Choice range are being changed
regularly, so this information may be outdated... This may not be one of the 'big brands' on
this page, but when it comes to value Vintage MWC is hard to beat.
Whisky Doris in Germany started out as a regular whisky store, but in recent
years they have evolved into an independent bottler. Their volumes won't impress
the major bottlers like Gordon & MacPhail, Signatory and Duncan Taylor, but the
quality of the casks of malt whisky they have selected has been excellent so far.
Let's hope they will be able to maintain that level of quality in the years to come...
Whyte and Mackay Ltd. was founded in 1844 in Glasgow by James Whyte
and Charles Mackay. They entered the Scotch whisky world in 1882 with
their "W&M Special" blended whisky and it didn't take the brand long to
become a success in the UK and former colonies like Australia, Canada,
New Zealand and the United States. When Whyte & Mackay were taken
over by the United Breweries Group from Indian politician and businessman
Vijay Mallya in 2007, Whyte & Mackay owned four malt whisky distilleries;
Dalmore, Fettercairn, Isle of Jura and Tamnavulin. The Indian conglomerate
also owns several brands in other spirit sectors, including Glayva liqueur
and Vladivar vodka. With the possible exception of Dalmore, their malt
whisky distilleries in Scotland don't belong to the 'nobility' in the sector like
Ardbeg, Macallan or Springbank. Apparently, they're trying to compensate
for that by pumping huge amounts of money into formula one 'sports' sponsoring.
In terms of production capacity, William Grant & Sons ranks at number three
in the Scotch whisky world, right after Diageo and Pernod Ricard. The company
is famous for their Glenfiddich and Balvenie brands, but their new Kininvie and
Ailsa Bay distilleries produce a significant portion of their annual output.
When Italian independent bottler Fabio Rossi started in the early 1990's, the casks that
were used for their range of single malt Scotch whiskies were acquired from Cadenhead's.
It wasn't long before Fabio started to hunt for casks at the distilleries themselves though.
The name 'Wilson & Morgan' is purely fictional; Fabio just needed a name that sounded
British. Most releases from Wilson & Morgan are single cask bottlings, although they do
release bottlings that were composed from multiple casks as well, like their 'House Malt
Born on Islay'. It seems Wilson & Morgan releases a fresh batch every year - and until
now these house malts have always provided excellent value. Many malt whiskies from
Wilson & Morgan are released in the 'Barrel Selection' range, but they have cask strength
bottlings as well. W&M also introduced the 'Rum Nation' range of rums in the early 2000's.
I should spend more time surfing the world wide web. It wasn't after I had 'finished' this page about the
main whisky bottlers that I discovered that there already was a excellent resource available on the web;
'Harry's (in)complete Guide to Independent Bottlers of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies'. It covers the same topic.
You can find the PDF at Konstantin's website if you'd like to get another perspective on the matter.
Please note that this overview focuses on Scotch single malt whisky bottlers. But single malt Scotch is just
a fraction of all the whisky that is consumed all around the world. You can find some more information about
blended whisky, grain whisky, vatted malt whiskies and 'bastard malts' in the Deviant Drams section of MM.
That's also the place to look for details about 'world whiskies' from countries like Ireland, Japan and the US.
However, only a few dozen of them bottle malt whisky in sufficient numbers to be identified on this list of bottlers and the Malt Maniacs Monitor. Part of the whisky business is shady, so the relationships and agreements between different companies, distributors and brands is not always clear.
All that being said, the monitor
is a great resource if you want to explore the whisky world a little further. On the old PDF monitor we have used a number of abbreviations for various independent bottlers.
The overview below shows most of them.
Alambic Classique (Germany)
Acorn (for the Japanese market)
Adelphi Distillery Ltd.
Berry Brothers & Rudd
Blackadder / Clydesdale
Cadenhead's (J. & A. Mitchell)
Caledonian Selection (USA)
Celtic Whisky Cie. / Celtique Connection
Chieftain's (Choice) by Ian MacLeod
Michel Couvreur (Belgium / France)
Dewar Rattray (now A.D. Rattray)
Exclusive Malts (David Stirk)
Flora & Fauna range by Diageo
Gordon & MacPhail
Hedges & Butler (Ian MacLeod)
Various independent bottlers
Jean Boyer (France)
Jack Wieber's Whisky World (Germany)
Kirsch Import (Germany)
La Maison du Whisky (France)
Mario & Hubert (Belgium, defunct)
Mackillop's Choice (Angus Dundee)
Master of Malt
Moon Import (Italy)
Malts of Scotland (Germany)
Natural Color (France)
The Nectar (Belgium)
Prestonfield (Sigantory for LMdW)
Royal Mile Whiskies (UK)
Silver Seal (Italy)
Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Scotch Single Malt Circle
Scottish Wildlife (Signatory Vintage)
The Malts of Scotland (TWE)
The Whisky Agency (Germany)
The Whisky Exchange (UK)
The Whisky Fair (Germany)
The Whisky Shop
United Distillers Rare Malts
The Ultimate (Van Wees, Holland)
Whisky Doris (Germany)
Wilson & Morgan (Italy)
Whyte & Whyte (USA)
As I've pointed out before, this list of independent whisky bottlers is not complete. Strictly speaking, everybody that buys a cask of whisky and then later bottles the contents of the cask is an independent bottler. So, according to this broad definition there are thousands of 'independent bottlers'.
Fortunately, you don't need to know all the specific details about the company that
owns a particular distillery to enjoy the whisky they make there. That being said, when
you're looking for your next malt whisky to enjoy, it helps to know a little bit about
the distillery where that particular whisky was produced a number of years earlier.
The whisky world is a murky one, with many distilleries & independent bottlers releasing
different 'brands' of whisky. For example, Douglas Laing has several series / ranges in
its portfolio, including 'Old Malt Cask' and 'McGibbon's Provenance'. And then there are the
companies that own both distilleries and bottlers - or whisky bottlers that effectively
own distilleries and vice versa. To complicate things further, sometimes the ownership
of a certain brand or distillery is divided across several different companies.
The more you know about the distillery, the better you will be able to determine your chances that the whisky you're planning to purchase will actually be any good. You'll simply be able to make better choices if you know a little bit about the barley types and production process that were used, the wood management at the distillery, etc. At today's prices for single malt whiskies, you'd want to avoid mistakes...
I guess that the same is can be said about Scotch whisky bottlers.
Just like there are 'better' and 'worse' distilleries (at a given point in time, from a personal
perspective), bottlers have released more 'better' or 'worse' bottlings within a certain
timeframe. Taste profiles and or price levels of some bottlers suit me better than others.
Individual tastes vary from person to person - and let's assume that I'm a person too.
So, I too have my own preferences. I've tried to keep those preferences to myself as
much as possible, though - at least on this page. It's an entirely different story on the
pages in the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary shopping guide) and the Liquid Log.
A. D. Rattray
Gordon & McPhail
Master of Malt
Milroy's of Soho
Number 1 Drinks
Praban Na Linne
Single & Single
Whyte & Mackay
Wilson & Morgan
This overview only
lists some of the
malt whisky bottlers.
On the 'brands' page
you'll find many more
names that you might
find on the label of a
bottle of single malt
Scotch whisky, like the
name of the distillery.
Anyway, at the right you can find a list
with the major whisky bottlers - both
independent bottlers and the big boys.
In this case, 'the big boys' are larger
corporations like Diageo, William Grant
and Pernod Ricard. The Industry List in
the mAlmanac provides an overview of
the ownership of all whisky distilleries.
Please note that this page was never
intended as a complete overview of
(independent) bottlers, so the list at
the right shows just a selection of the
largest independent bottlers. Strictly
speaking, everybody that buys a cask
of whisky and then later bottles the
contents of the cask is an independent
bottler. So, there are many thousands
of 'independent bottlers'. Including all
of them would just be a tad pointless...
The focus of most of these bottlers is
on malt whisky, but grain whisky is an
important part of the business of some
of the larger producers as well. A few
grain whiskies are sold as single grains,
but most of it is used for blending.
There are a few other whisky bottlers that are not exactly micro-bottlers, but I still
decided not to include them in the detailed bottler overview further down this page;
Is the distillery or