Where do you buy your whisky from? The bartender is my usual response, but in reality most of my whisky is bought online, often when I am researching one of these articles. The choice is limited only by what is currently being produced (and my meagre budget), and living in a rural area it provides me a much wider selection than the supermarket.
It also grants me access to independent bottlers and with them a plethora of whiskies that distilleries, despite producing them, for a variety of reasons don’t sell them to the general public.
The Personal Touch
Independent bottlers are, by and large, tight knit organisations with a heavy focus on customer service. I could compare them to a large company that also deals in orders from its customers, but for legal reasons I am unable to directly reference companies names after rainforests, but no doubt the discerning reader will have dealt at some point in time with a large company and understood the pain of dealing with a enormous, indiscriminate company on the customer helpline. The passion of independent bottlers is easily recognised in their fantastic customer support, following your journey from initial order to final arrival, as well as after-sales support.
Unique Drinks for Unique People
Often a distillery is met with a problem: an attempt to ensure continuity of flavour has failed, and the whisky they have produced would seem uncharacteristic for them, regardless of any merit in flavour. Enter the independent bottler. Working for themselves rather than a legacy they are effectively free from relying on any retail influence, and can take the risk on producing a limited run of bottles that may be wholly different from their last. What might otherwise been blended out of existence, locked away or even poured away is instead for sale, eagerly awaited by whisky connoisseurs.
Part of the Ship, Part of the Crew
Heroes and Heretics, extolling all the virtues of the best independent bottlers goes even further, offering membership to their Tribe. Joining the tribe is quick and easy and requires none of the displays of fealty and hunting prowess required by those of New Guinea, the benefits also being slightly more applicable to western living. Each month a Tribe member will receive discounts, promotions, competitions and early access codes. This adds a level of exclusivity that one might not find in the monthly Tesco’s delivery, or indeed the proud Huli Wigmen of the Southern Highlands.
If you haven’t already tried sourcing your whisky from an independent bottler then you are surely missing out on some of the hidden gems of the whisky world.
By: Will Prior