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.
If you’ve visited Singapore, you might have been lucky enough to visit whisky haven The Single Cask. Good news for those who’d like to try some of their award-winning, no-nonsense releases without having to go anywhere, as their independent bottling range with the same name is available here in the UK. Every bottle of bourbon, Scotch, or Irish whiskey comes cask strength, non chill-filtered, and with no artificial colours – just how we like it!
The single cask also featured in our Glen-something tasting box.
Facebook: The Single Cask UK
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
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.
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
I hope you enjoy exploring these indie gems as much as I enjoyed writing about them. Look out for even more in our upcoming tasting boxes.
Do you have a favourite independent bottler? We’d love to hear about your favourite finds!