Independent Ownership

I figured that as long as we're talking about which giant corporations own which distilleries, it might also be useful to bring up independent bottlers and their distilleries.  I don't know this for a fact, but the vibe I've been getting from the indies lately suggests to me that sourcing casks is harder than ever.  The practice of sending one's own barrel to the distillery, having them fill it, and leaving it there to age is coming to an end.  The independent bottlers of Scotland have therefore a need to create their own whisky if the big boys won't sell them any.  At the same time, independent distilleries who have also been able to source aged stocks have created their own independent labels to sell off these barrels.  Here's a quick list:

Springbank/Duthies/Cadenhead - J & A Mitchell, who also own the Glengyle distillery next door to Springbank, release the Duthies and Cadenhead products as well.  While neither is available in the U.S. at the moment, we carried the Duthies selections briefly in 2009.  We do have the saffron-infused Cadenhead gin as a full-time item.  If you visit the distillery, there's a giant Cadenhead's shop where you can find the whiskies pictured above.

Bruichladdich/Murray McDavid - Independently owned Bruichladdich also releases a series of cask-enhanced malts under the Murray McDavid label.

Glengoyne/Chieftain's - Ian MacLeod Distillers has been a family-owned business since 1933.  As you can see by all the Chieftain's products we carry (and have on order for 2012) we love working with these guys.  However, realizing that independent bottling couldn't sustain them forever, they purchased Glengoyne from the Edrington Group in 2003 as well as Tamdhu in 2011.  Luckily for them, Glengoyne is a key ingredient in some high-profile blends owned by big companies, which makes getting interesting casks easier to negotiate.

Edradour/Signatory - Signatory, who bottled our lovely Ladyburn, purchased Edradour Distillery from Pernod-Ricard in 2002.

Benromach/Gordon & MacPhail - Benromach was originally moth-balled by UD (pre-Diageo) in 1983, but then sold to Gordon & MacPhail in 1993 after ten years of inactivity.  It didn't begin operating again until 1998.  Gordon & MacPhail is perhaps the most widely known and distributed of all independent bottlers.

Who's next in the game of "We need to control our own whisky supplies?"  Rumor on the street is that Weymss Blended Malts tried to buy Bladnoch recently, but the entire thing blew up in their face!  Bladnoch is owned by two feuding brothers and apparently one of them agreed to sell behind the back of the other.  When the other brother found out about the promised deal, he immediately refused both to sell the distillery and to ever speak to his brother again.  I wonder which distilleries are even on the market.  I'm sure that A.D. Rattray would also love to own something again.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll