Founded in 1993 by the great grandson of Archibald Walker, owner of the Loch Katrine Adelphi Distillery in the 1880s, Donald Houston and Keith Falconer took control of this independent bottlers in 2004. The few thousand bottlings produced since are a clear reflection of the quality of the stock then available. After the many Springbank 1964 and 1965 versions came a large number of Ardbeg, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain bottlings from the 70s and 80s. These were followed by numerous outstanding versions of Clynelish, Macallan, Highland Park, Linkwood and Mortlach from the 80s and 90s. Hindsight reveals a truly substantial inventory covering more than 60 years of distillation in Scotland. In 2014, Adelphi’s owners opened their first distillery, baptized Ardnamurchan, on the east coast of Scotland.
An archetype of 19th century bottlers, Berry Bros. & Rudd is the oldest independent bottler still in operation. In the world of whisky, its history is closely linked to that of the blend Cutty Sark, created end-to-end by the Berry brothers in the 1920s and famous for flooding the American market then in the throes of Prohibition in 1923. Berry Brothers also boasts a number of vatted malts, including All Malt, Berry’s Best and the St James brand, and, of course, a prestigious range of single malts, including the oldest bottles to have featured in our collections, some of which date back as far as 1903. A number of these bottles (yellow label, dark green bottle) are also subject to a guarantee. Berry Bros’ modern range of malts was launched under the label #3 St James Street and led by the distilleries Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Highland Park, Longmorn, Macallan, Talisker and Laphroaig. They are accompanied by a few “mystery” bottlings released under the label Pure Single Malt, including a 1961 vintage that many die-hard fans believe to be a Bowmore.
This family-owned company specialized in single cask and cask strength bottlings. When it launched on the French market at the start of the millennium, its Raw Cask range caused quite a stir due to the floating sediment left in the bottle. Since then, the bottler has forged a name for itself and is now one of the main players on the market, enabling it to acquire casks from distilleries across the world, including Chichibu and Mars in Japan and Amrut in India. A special range dedicated to Ireland, named A Drop of the Irish, was released in 2011. Over 25 years of activity, it has released more than 1,200 bottlings, including numerous Springbank (1965, 1967), Clynelish (1976, 1980) and Bowmore (1973).
Compass Box was founded in 2000 by John Glaser, who, after honing his skills at the Diageo group (Johnnie Walker, Six Classic Malts, etc.) decided to venture into the world of blending. His first three creations were a summary in themselves of the possibilities offered by the art, with Asyla, a blend of malts and grains; Eleuthera, a blend of single malts from various distilleries, and Hedonism, a blend of single grains from various distilleries. A huge number of further creations have since been produced. John Glaser’s talent lies in his selection of distilleries and maturations, and his ability to blend spirits with perfect proportions. Preferring a bespoke approach to mass production, some 250 creations have been released in under 20 years, many of which, like The Spice Tree, have disrupted and reinvented a number of historical practices.
It was in early 2013 that the Laing brothers Stewart and Fred decided to separate and split the Douglas Laing company - which they had inherited from their father - into two entities. Stewart Hunter Laing and his son created Hunter Laing & Co, and Fred and his daughter continued the Douglas Laing adventure. Founded as a blending company (King of Scots, McGibbon’s, etc.), Douglas Laing originally became an independent bottler in a time in which contracts were signed with a handshake. In 1998, the Old Malt Cask was released worldwide, followed by The Platinum Selection in 2001. With high alcohol contents, these ranges featured some of Scotland’s top distilleries, from Ardbegs from the 60s and 70s to Bowmores and Springbanks from the 60s, and numerous casks of Talisker, Port Ellen, Clynelish and Macallan, to name but a few. Since 2013, Douglas Laing’s single malt ranges have continued to develop whilst maintaining their old-world spirit, with Old Particular, Director’s Cut and Premier Barrel, and a range of blends with a deliberately more off-the-wall direction including Scallywag, Big Peat and Timorous Beastie.
Dun Eideann, the second bottlers brand created by the Symington brothers, was founded in 1988 (see Signatory Vintage) to respond to the specific demands of distributors and clients who wanted to stand out from the crowd. The brand’s most prolific period ran until the late 1990s, before its releases then became increasingly scarce. Its finest bottlings include an Ardbeg sherry cask from the 1970s, a Laphroaig, Balvenie and Bowmore from 1966, a 1967 Springbank, a 1970 Glendronach, and, finally, an especially rare 1968 vintage from Ardmore.
Founded in 1938 in Glasgow as a whisky wholesaler (casks) and bottler, the family-owned company Duncan Taylor was bought in the 1960s by New Yorker Abe Rosenberg who, after making his fortune in the distribution of blended scotches, had developed a stock of casked whiskies placed under the patronage of Duncan Taylor. This collection traced the history of almost 40 years of Scotch whisky production for both malts and grains. After his death in 1994, the stock and company were bought by the Scot Euan Shand. When it launched in France at the start of the millennium, Duncan Taylor offered a portfolio of single malts and single casks like no other in the world, with the ranges Rare Auld and Peerless, and, for the year 1966 alone, numerous Bowmore, Bruichladdich and Highland Park bottlings, and for the year 1967 many Macallans, Springbanks, Bunnahabhains and Glenrothes.
A subsidiary of The Whisky Exchange, Elixir Distillers was created in 2017 by the Singh brothers to manage the creation and development side of the TWE business, including the historic ranges The Single Malts of Scotland (2001) and Elements of Islay (2006), and the semi-official brand Port Askaig (2009) - a small-batch single malt from a distillery in the north of Islay. Of its most recent creations, the Rosebank Roses series became something of a phenomenon for collectors in just a few months.
Custodian of the world’s oldest stock of single malts undergoing maturation, Gordon & MacPhail has forged a reputation and position in the world of whisky rivalled by no other. Pioneers and visionaries, it was originally under the aegis of George Urquhart that the company began bottling and selling single malts on behalf of distilleries - in a period in which blended scotch dominated the international scene - with bottlings from Glen Grant, Macallan, Strathisla, Longmorn, Mortlach, Linkwood and Glenlivet, to name but a few. Gordon & MacPhail imposes its own style, heavily influenced by sherry casks, on even the peatiest distilleries, including Caol Ila, Talisker and Ardbeg. It also provides an untold number of barrels, particularly on the Italian market, to a large number of independent bottlers, enabling them to develop their own ranges of scotch, including Sestante, Intertrade, Meregalli and Edward & Edward.
Founded in 2013 by Stewart Hunter Laing and his sons Andrew and Scott, the independent bottlers Hunter Laing was created following the separation of Fred and Stewart Laing (see Douglas Laing). From this past, Hunter Laing inherited historic ranges of single malts, including Old Malt Cask, Old & Rare and The Platinum Selection, and also developed the First Edition range created in 2010 by Andrew Laing, and The Sovereign, dedicated to very old single grains. In 2016, the company bought the Ardnahoe site on Islay and built the eponymous distillery. Ardnahoe completed its first distillation in October 2018.
Founded in 1933, Ian MacLeod was bought by the Russell family in 1963. Specializing in whisky bottling, Ian MacLeod then bought the blend Isle of Skye in the same year. In 1984, the company set up its bottling chain in Broxburn and it was at the turn of the 1990s that the brand Chieftain’s appeared with the label Chieftain’s Choice, bottled by The Scottish Independent Bottlers co., whose history dates back to 1928. Since then, Ian MacLeod casks have appeared under many names and labels, including As We Get It, Dram Select, Dun Bheagan and MacLeod, for a number of different clients. In 2003, the company bought the Glengoyne distillery, and in 2011 Tamdhu.
Founded in 1956, La Maison du Whisky - then known under the acronym SNPA (Société Nouvelle de Produits Alimentaires) - is a a family-owned whisky and spirit import and distribution company. It opened its first store in Paris in 1961, followed by a second in 1968, which would become its flagship store. At the time focused on business gifts, it offered a wide range of Scottish blends (Vat 69, Haig, Teachers, House of Lords, Cutty Sark) and pure malts (Glen Grant, Glenfiddich, Cardhu and Glenlivet), as well as the leading brands of Irish and American whiskeys (Tullamore Dew, Harper, Old Crow, Old Grand-Dad). In the 1970s it began exclusively importing large numbers of single malts, including Caol Ila 12 Year Old Bulloch Lade, Bowmore Bicentenary and Springbank, and built close relationships with leading bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory Vintage. Driven by the burgeoning trend for single malts in the mid-1990s, it decided to develop its own range of whiskies, selecting barrels from independent bottlers and official bottlings and working in partnership with distilleries across the world.
Named after its founder, independent bottlers Michel Couvreur was founded in the heart of Burgundy in Bouzes-Lès-Beaunes. Mere mention of the company’s name evokes thoughts of Bere barley, Scotland, Edradour, sherry and port casks, blending, maturation and vaulted cellars. After being distilled in Scotland, its whiskies are matured in France, most frequently in ex-sherry casks, although other types of ageing are also practised, such as for the Jura Vin Jaune. With the spirit being was so rarely imported, no reference to the distillery of origin is found on the labels. As Michel Couvreur whiskies are, like the company founder who passed away in 2013, uncompromising. Its blends are an ode to the Auld Alliance between the Scots and the French.
A relatively recent player in the independent bottlers industry, Murray McDavid has close links with Mark Reynier (a businessman raised by a family of wine sellers) and the Bruichladdich distillery, which it bought in December 2000. Several ranges were launched on the market simultaneously, including the prestigious Celtic Heartland and Mission. The Syndicate range, primarily dedicated to Islay malts, quickly joined the Murray McDavid team, offering bottlings of Lagavulin that are now highly sought-after. More classic versions give prominence to the wine barrel finishes Mark Reynier is so deeply fond of. In 2012, the company was sold to the French company Remy Cointreau which, in 2013, ceded the bottling segment of the company to ACEO, a whisky and rum cask merchant.
This French wine, champagne and spirits merchant became famous among whisky fans in 2006 when it released a range of single malts dubbed Closed Distilleries. The range offered selections of single cask and cask strength bottlings from closed distilleries in Scotland and Japan. Its most sought-after editions include Littlemill, Port Ellen and Rosebank for Scotland, and Hanyu and Kawasaki for Japan. The last bottling seems to have been released in 2014.
Signatory Vintage is an independent bottlers founded in 1988 by the Symington brothers, Andrew and Brian. They made a name for themselves with bottlings considered “radical” at the time, bottled at cask strength and without chill-filtration, such as Glen Grant 1964, Glenfarclas 1969, Laphroaig 1966 and Ardbeg 1967. From their past lives, Brian and Andrew have maintained a solid relationship with the prestigious Prestonfield House, for whom they also select barrels. This was a name they would continue to use until 2011 to bottle their finest casks from the most famous distilleries, for bottlings such as Bowmore 1965, Springbank 1970, Glendronach 1970 and Brora 1981. Since then, Signatory Vintage has become the owner of Edradour distillery and built a second distillery on the bank opposite the stream that passes through the distillery site.
Working in partnership with the Italian distributor Whisky Antique since 2010, Silver Seal was founded by Ernesto Mainardi in 2000. The first ten years of bottlings predominantly featured single malts distilled in the 70s and 80s. Mainardi sought his whiskies primarily from the cellars of the family-owned Douglas Laing. In 2001, it bottled the famous Pluscarden 1961 (Glenfarclas), its oldest vintage, and a Port Ellen 1969. Alongside its malts, Silver Seal has also begun bottling rums and, more specifically, Demerara, illustrated in the Wildlife Series range, which includes Enmore 1975, 1977 and 1986, Port Mourant 1975 and the legendary British Guyana 1974.
Founded in 2006, The Nectar imports and distributes whiskies and spirits in Belgium and across the globe. In 2008, it decided to create its own range of single malts under the name The Nectar of the Daily Dram, featuring Scottish, Irish and Japanese malt and grain whiskies. This young company has since released just under 200 bottlings. Some of its finest versions include Tomatin 1966, Glengoyne 1972, Clynelish and Brora 1982. Its bottlings of Irish whiskeys often receive awards at international competitions and are prized by collectors. It is also the name behind the 1977 single cask Karuizawa #6994 released in 2009.
In 2009, under the leadership of Daniel Kissling, the whisky, beer and spirits import and distribution company The Stillman’s created the Stillman’s Cask Selection range. These single cask and cask strength bottlings focus on Scottish malts such as Highland Park, Littlemill and Springbank, and are also renowned for a selection of outstanding 1991 Irish malts.
In the mid-1960s, the Singh family moved to London and opened a store which, in 1972, specialized in the sale of spirits and wines. In 1999, the store was sold in order to buy a warehouse. Six months later the online store The Whisky Exchange was born. AsThe Whisky Exchange quickly became a key player in the distribution of wine and spirits in the United Kingdom, the Singh brothers at the same time began selecting casks from distillery warehouses and producing their own bottlings, including the very first release, a Glen Grant 31 Year Old 1969 Sherry Cask. In 2001, they created the Single Malts of Scotland range, introduced with a Tomatin 1972. From the mid-2000s, they invested in numerous barrels and began creating a stock of whisky in maturation. Since 2017, the creation and development of ranges has been managed by Elixir Distillers, a subsidiary of TWE.
Established in 1947, Vélier - with the support of Arturo Lupi - developed a small wine and spirits distribution and import business. It was then in 1983 that Luca Gargano, then Marketing Director of Spirit SpA, acquired shares in the company. In the early 90s, he began selecting barrels of whisky and rum from vintners and distillers. With the support of Signatory Vintage, he developed various ranges including On The Road and Selected by Velier (blue label). It was rum, however, that really allowed his skill for finding and selecting products, and his creative genius to be expressed. He is responsible for the last official bottlings of Caroni and the first from Hampden, as well as for the renewed interest in the Haitian rum Clairin. The company’s own bottlings have just as much to offer, with a multitude of gems, including Skeldon 1973, Diamond 1981, Port Mourant 1972 and Albion 1983.
Cadenhead is the second oldest independent bottlers still in operation. It became the property of William Cadenhead in 1858, before his nephew Robert W. Duthie took the helm in the early 1900s. Upon his death in 1931, the company stayed within the family, before being sold in 1969 to the Mitchell family, who also owned Springbank (Campbeltown). 1977 saw the release of the first bottlings in its famous small brown bottle adorned with a black label, produced with only very light filtering of 45.7% to 46%. In 1989, a new range was introduced under the name Authentic Collection in a more classic green bottle, followed by the Cask Strength range in a transparent bottle featuring the cask number. The much rarer Duthies bottlings, produced primarily for the Italian and American markets, were released in the same time period.
Born into a family of Scotch whisky sellers and bottlers, in 1992 Fabio Rossi launched the company Wilson & Morgan and decided to bottle his own selections of casks. A Caol Ila 14 Year Old opened proceedings in 1992. 1993 then was a particularly prosperous period for Islay malts distilled in the 1970s, with Port Ellen, Bowmore, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, as well as just-as rare and prized Longrow, Macallan and Springbank bottlings. Up until the late 1990s, Wilson & Morgan bottled a huge number of its oldest barrels, including a Glenrothes 1966 and a Springbank 1969. The turn of the millennium heralded the start of a new decade in distillation. With the 1980s stocks decimated, it was time for the 1990s to take pride of place on Wilson & Morgan’s labels, immediately propelling this first decade of bottlings to the ranks of collectables. Since then, more than 500 bottlings have been released.