Independent Bottlers

…whisky has not always been sold by the distillery which created it. In the hazy, distant past… or really, any time before the last few decades, whisky was distilled by a distillery, barreled, and sold. Today, true independent bottlers remain in the market by providing customers a way to taste obscure, experimental, or now-defunct distilleries, as well as expertly aged and bottled single-cask expressions from familiar distilleries.

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Hart Brothers Laphroaig 18 year

Hello! It’s Laphroaig. Iodine, seaspray, and a big wave of smoky peaty goodness. Behind it lurks some light florals – elderflower? and green tea. Maybe a little touch of honey and green bananas. Mostly the salty peat, though.

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Bunnahabhain (12 year) (New 46.3% Presentation)

That said, I’m not crazy about Bunnahabhain’s updated 12 year-old expression. This seems a little overcooked to me, like grandma’s pecan pie was in the oven a few hours too long. The barrel char is deep and overrepresented, the sweetness is minimal and overshadowed.

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Ryan and Wood Straight Rye

For a first-time effort from a small craft distillery, this is excellent stuff. Much more mature for its age than I’d expect. Underpriced at $30. Here’s hoping it only gets better with time!

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Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Bourbon (15 year)

Everything you expect in a bourbon with a healthy spice profile, but amplified. It makes other bourbons taste watered-down in comparison. The wood integration is masterful – you’d expect 15 Kentucky summers to reduce this to a glass of liquid wood extract, but instead it just makes everything taste… Bigger. Excellent.

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The Black Grouse

Not bad, but you’d probably be better off blending peated malt into a favorite blended whisky by yourself. That said, a bottle won’t go to waste if you want a peated alternative to your typical blended malt, just don’t expect the moon.

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Coming of Age

I believe that a significant milestone in one’s journey of discovering whisky is to taste a dram of something older than oneself. I’ll call it my “Coming of Age.”

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