List of Independent Whisky Bottlers
What is an independent whisky bottler?
Independent whisky bottlers buy casks of whisky from distilleries and bottle them under their own label. While they don't distil the whisky, they do develop the flavour of the whisky. They do this by choosing how long to mature it for. And sometimes they use cask finishes to add additional layers of flavour.
What do independent whiskey bottlers do?
Independent whisky bottlers look for the best whiskies. They're looking for whiskies that either showcase the very best of a particular distillery. Or, that are unique examples of bold, different flavours. They carefully taste a range of single cask whiskies, before choosing only those that meet their high standards.
They can then choose to either bottle their chosen casks straightaway under their own independent labels. Or, they can choose to further enhance the flavour of the whisky by ageing it in their warehouses for longer. They can also move the whisky to another cask (known as re-racking) to add an additional layer of flavour, for example sherry casks or port casks.
Indy bottlers often, but not always, bottle at higher alcohol strength, including natural cask strength. Generally speaking, they do not use chill filtration, or add caramel colouring, choosing instead to keep their whiskies natural.
List of independent bottlers, in alphabetical order.
- Adelphi Selection
- AD Rattray
- Artful Dodger
- Berry Brothers & Rudd (BB&R)
- Càrn Mòr
- Chapter 7 Whisky
- Chorlton Whisky
- Compass Box
- Douglas Laing
- Douglas McGibbon
- Dràm Mòr
- DS Tayman
- Duncan Taylor
- Dun Eideann
- Fable Whisky
- Gleann Morr Spirits
- Goldfinch Whisky Merchants
- Gordon & Macphail
- Great Drams
- Hart Brothers
- Hunter Laing
- Hidden Spirits
- Ian Macleod
- Imperial Tribute
- James Eadie
- James MacArthur
- JG Thomson
- Kilnsman's Dram
- Lady of The Glen
- Liquid Treasures
- Little Brown Dog Spirits
- Lombard Scotch Whisky
- MacKillop's Choice
- Malts of Scotland
- Murray McDavid
- Na Braithrean
- North Star Spirits
- Peg Whisky
- Rest and Be Thankful
- Roger's Whisky Company
- Samuel Gulliver & Co
- Scotch & Tattoos
- Scott's Selection
- Secret Spirits
- Single Cask Nation
- Single Malt Whisky Society (SMWS)
- Single Note Whisky
- Skene Scotch Whisky
- Speciality Brands Ltd
- Swell De Spirits
- That Boutique-y Whisky Company
- The Firkin Whisky Co
- The Whisky Baron
- The Whisky Cellar
- The Vintage Malt Whisky Company
- Uncharted Whisky Company
- Valinch & Mallet
- Watt Whisky
- Waxhouse Whisky Co
- W.D. O'Connell
- Wemyss Malts
- Whisky Art Journey
- Whisky Broker
- Whisky Is The Limit
- William Cadenhead's
- Wilson and Morgan
- Woodrow's of Edinburgh
Last updated August 2023
What to look for when choosing a whisky from an independent bottler?
There truly is so much choice within the world of independent whisky, it's one of the things I love most about this category. Here are a few things you can enjoy looking out for.
Look out for new distilleries
Independent bottlers can be a great way to explore new distilleries. Indeed, in some cases, the only way to try a particular distillery may be through an independent bottler. For example, if the majority of a distillery's whisky is used for blending, you may only come across single malt expressions via an indie bottler. Or, where a distillery has since closed and is no longer releasing whisky under its own brand.
Experience new angles on familiar distilleries
Independent bottlers can also offer the opportunity to see a new side of familiar distilleries. In many cases, distilleries have a key style, or signature style, that they want to be known for. They will occasionally have casks that, while they may be of great quality, don't necessarily fit with that house style. The distillery may be reluctant to bottle such casks under their own label - instead, selling them to independent bottlers. I love casks like these, they're a fascinating way to experience a new side to old names.
Unique casks and finishes
Independent bottlers, generally speaking, do not distil their own whisky. They buy whisky from distilleries. Where an independent bottler can add value is through maturation. Unique cask sizes and types, interesting approaches to maturation and finishing - these are great benefits of independent bottlers.
Perhaps also worth briefly commenting on blending. While I might title blenders in their own right, clearly another way independent companies can develop flavour is through blending recipes.
Bottling strength, ABV
Often, albeit not always, independent releases are offered at a higher ABV relative to normal market releases. This is a great opportunity to try a higher-proof version of your favourite whiskies. You may find new flavours and mouthfeels. And, where bottled at a high cask strength, you then have the opportunity to add water to create your own ideal strength.
Transparency and detail
Many independent bottlers will be as transparent about their releases as they possibly can. They'll provide a lot of data, often more than you'd get from typical own-brand distillery releases.
How have independent bottlers influenced the whisky industry?
There are many ways that independent bottlers have had an influence on the whisky industry and among them include:
They help to keep old and rare whiskies alive
Independent bottlers are often able to source stocks of whisky that may otherwise be lost, due to the closure or discontinuation of a distillery, meaning they can keep these rare expressions alive and available for purchase. This helps to ensure that these forgotten gems remain accessible to whisky lovers everywhere.
They provide access to unique and interesting bottlings
As independent bottlers are not tied to any particular distillery, they are free to select from the best whiskies that each region has to offer and create unique expressions that may otherwise be unavailable. This allows whisky drinkers to explore new styles and regions that they may not have had access to otherwise.
They offer value for money
Many independent bottlers are small, artisan outfits. They're not investing multi-millions in big-dollar marketing campaigns. Instead, the value is usually focused on the whisky itself. And generally speaking, you can get top-quality whiskies at an affordable price.
They give consumers more choice
With so many independent bottlers now in operation, whisky drinkers have access to an ever-increasing selection of whiskies from around the world. This means that they can choose from a vast array of styles and expressions.
They promote regional whisky production
By sourcing whisky from different regions, independent bottlers help to ensure that each area’s unique styles and expressions remain accessible. This promotes regional distilleries and gives them a platform on which to showcase their products, helping them to stay competitive in an increasingly global market.
They produce something unique, something special
Independent bottlers often produce smaller batch sizes. In many cases, single cask releases are limited to 200-300 bottles.
They help to preserve old recipes
Take for example Brig O' Perth, which recreated a Highland blend from 100 years ago. This helps to bring some of the oldest styles back into fashion.
They promote the appreciation of whisky
By making top-quality whiskies available at an affordable price, independent bottlers help to spread the appreciation of whisky amongst a wider audience and ensure that more people get to experience its complexities and delights. This helps to promote the whisky industry as a whole, which can only be a good thing.
As you can see, independent bottlers have had a huge impact on the whisky industry and continue to do so today. So why not explore some of their offerings and see what makes them so special? You won’t be disappointed!
Unique whiskies from the best independent bottlers
Here at TopWhiskies.com we love independent whisky bottlers (you can read about some of our favourites indies here). We find they're a great source of top quality single malt scotch whiskies at fair prices. There are plenty of unique offerings, single cask whiskies, and interesting maturation techniques. Plus, these independent brands are often run by small teams of passionate individuals. So, in buying their whiskies, you're supporting both them and their families.
We're proud to support some great independent bottlers. You can find the independent whisky bottlers we stock here. But there's a wide world of choice out there, so here's a directory list of independent bottlers.
How to bottle your own whiskies?
Many whisky lovers dream of producing their own whisky. The most realistic way of achieving this dream is to become an independent bottler. While there are still costs involved, and many things to get right, becoming an indie bottler is easier than building your own distillery. If you'd like to find out more, read our guide to making your own whisky here, which looks at five points to consider:
- Why do you want to make your own whisky?
- How many bottles do you want?
- What type of base spirit do you want to use?
- What type of cask do you want your whisky matured in, and where will you store it?
- Things to think about when bottling your whisky
Get in touch
If you'd like to add an independent whisky bottler to the list (last updated August 2023), or if you yourself are an independent bottler and you're interested in learning more about what we do here at TopWhiskies, do get in touch, you can email Ed here: firstname.lastname@example.org.