The history of independent bottlers begins with Scotch whisky and goes back well over a century. Back then, distilleries like Macallan, Laphroaig, and Glenfiddich weren’t selling their whisky under their now legendary brand names. Rather, Scotland was dotted with hundreds of small distilleries, each making malt whisky and selling it in bulk to blenders like Dewars, Chivas, and Johnnie Walker. This was long before the days of mega-corporate ownership (e.g. Diageo), and distilleries were happy to sell their whisky to whomever had the necessary cash. In some cases, it was simply a desire to offload a few casks that weren’t in line with the distillery’s house style.
Among those purchasers were merchants like Gordon & MacPhail and A.D. Rattray, who purchased unaged or very young whisky from the distilleries, then aged it to maturity in their own warehouses. This spread the financial risk and potential profit among the distilleries and merchants. The distilleries got cash up front without waiting decades to sell the aged whisky, and the merchants got whisky at a substantial discount to sell under their house branding.
In the modern era, despite the rise of single malt whisky as a world-beating category, well-funded by conglomerate owners such as Diageo and Pernod Ricard, the old-line independent bottlers have not only survived, their ranks have grown. Some independent bottlers have been so successful that they’ve purchased or built their own whisky distilleries. Recent examples include Signatory’s purchase of the Edradour distillery in 2002, and independent bottler Hunter Laing completing the construction of the Ardnahoe distillery on Islay in 2018.
Premium whiskies bearing The Classic Cask label are amongst the most rare and unique spirits ever to be offered to the discerning enthusiast. Their unparalleled quality, richness, intensity of flavor, and remarkable smoothness are testament to the slow and painstaking processes, which were employed in their production. The Classic Cask Small-Batch production is just that: never more than 800 bottles to a batch. Each bottle is numbered, its label indicating the total production output, as well as distillation and bottling dates.
THE CREATIVE WHISKY COMPANY'S
gordon & macphail
Independent whisky bottler Cadenhead’s was founded in 1842 at 47 Netherkirkgate in Aberdeen, a site the company traded from for more than 130 years. Today, the business is owned by J. & A. Mitchell and Co., owner of Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. It specialises in single cask malt whiskies that are neither chill-filtered nor coloured, though trades in rum and gin as well.