It’s no secret that at the Dram Team we love independent whisky bottlers. In fact, we recently treated our tasting box members to some cracking examples.
The wonderful world of independent bottlers is not such a secret, anymore. Lots of whisky fans now appreciate the indies for many reasons. Independent bottlers source whisky from many routes - buying casks otherwise intended for blended whisky, purchase stock from private collectors, or in some cases, direct from the distilleries themselves. This means they can access casks of whisky that might showcase a completely different flavour, age, or even cask type that a distillery might not release under their usual brands. If you’re a whisky connoisseur, you might appreciate trying a fresh take on a familiar brand or trying a rare single malt from a distillery that usually gets snapped up for blends. You might already know some of the big boys - many of which we’ve featured before in our tasting sets - Berry Bros & Rudd, Compass Box, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Douglas Laing, to name a few.
But there are some smaller indies out there making names for themselves too. Here’s a shortlist of some of our favourites that we think you’ll love seeking out.
Best Independent Whisky Bottlers you Might Not Have Tried ... Yet
The Firkin Whisky Co
Founded by whisky legend Mike Collings, The Firkin Whisky Co are making some exceptional whiskies. All of their single cask releases are rather unique. They make their own custom casks by combining half the staves of an American ex-bourbon cask with half virgin French oak, charred to their own specification. These custom casks are then seasoned with 'soulmate' wines, paired to complement the whisky. Finally, the original single cask whisky is re-racked into this new custom cask for a finishing period, until its absolutely perfect.
Read more about The Firkin Whisky in our interview with Mike Collings here.
We liked their whisky so much, we decided to dedicate a whole box to them
Bartels Whisky is a boutique, family-run company that’s really two independent bottlers in one: originally known for being the exclusive UK agents of the fantastic Malts of Scotland range, they now bottle their own range of single malts under their “Highland Laird” label. Also, they produce luxury blends for the “His Excellency” brand. If you’re a long time Dram Teamer, you might remember some of their whiskies from previous tasting sets.
Facebook: Bartels Whisky
Yorkshire-based, family-owned Claxton’s have fully embraced the ephemeral nature of cask ageing. Every release is from a single barrel, meaning that the textures, flavours, and nuances of each batch will be different. Rather than blending multiple casks of whisky to a consistent flavour profile, each limited release will offer something unique - taste-tested thoroughly to make sure it’s up to the highest quality, of course.
Facebook: Claxton’s Whisky
The Whisky Baron
While the name of this company is inspired by the legendary “Barons of Whisky” who pioneered Scotch whisky throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this whisky broker and bottler uses modern tech and concepts to excite their drinkers. Their augmented reality app lets you scan the bottle to reveal a “tour” of the distillery it came from, read cocktail recipes and more. You can also create your own infinity bottle and track the whisky inside via their online tool. While their range is still small, it’s well-chosen, and we like the unique extras.
A little different to your standard independent bottler, Whisky Broker also sells whole or partial casks of whisky alongside their own label bottlings. While they mainly sell to whisky clubs and enthusiasts in higher volumes, they also have a curated range of bottlings available to try as well. Check out their website for the most current selection. They are certainly one of the best independent whisky bottlers you might not have tried yet.
Artful Dodger Whisky Collective
The ethos behind this brand is about sourcing the most flavourful and unique casks of whisky they can find and making them available to the people who want to drink them, rather than being squirrelled away by collectors or investors. With a range of some delicious drams including their recent Springbank 18yo, we can get on board with this approach!
Facebook: Artful Dodger Whisky Collective
Best Independent Whisky Bottlers You Might Not Have Tried... Yet
We hope you enjoy exploring these indie gems as much as we enjoyed writing about them. Look out for even more in our upcoming tasting boxes.
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Do you have a favourite independent bottler? We’d love to hear about your favourite finds!
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