Whisky is a cask-aged spirit: we produce a clear spirit from a grain mash at a distillery and then fill a wooden cask with it. Over time, this clear spirit inherits the flavours of the cask, including any residual liquid locked-up in the wood if the cask we’re utilising has been used to hold other drinks before. For instance, a sherry cask matured whisky will take on the flavours and aromas from oak, but also any traces of sherry that reside in the wood. The particular rules around this process may differ between countries, but generally the concept is the same.
When creating a whisky, the vast majority of production time will be tied up in the maturation stage. In Scotland, the minimum period for cask maturation is three years, with most whiskies being aged far beyond this! A lot can change over this time, and, for various reasons, the distillery may decide to sell some of these maturing casks rather than bottle the contents themselves. In such a case, distilleries may sell the casks in question to another company who will either continue to mature the spirit or bottle it: this is our independent bottler.
An independent bottler is a company that doesn’t necessarily own a distillery or blend spirits but will buy casks of whisky, bottle them and sell them under their own branding. This can often be a source of confusion for those unfamiliar with the whisky world, as these bottlings may state the name of the original distillery from which the spirit was sourced but are labelled with unfamiliar branding.