November 9, 2016

Five Reasons To Buy Scotch From Independent Bottlers

There are two types of scotch on the market.

"OB" - aka Original Bottlings come directly from the distillery. Lagavulin 16 Year, Macallan 12 Year, and Laphroaig 10 Year are examples of "OB"s. 

"IB" - Independent Bottlings come from third-party companies that purchase whisky from distilleries, age it themselves, and then bottle it under their own brand. Signatory Vintage, Gordon & MacPhail, and Douglas Laing are examples of "IB"s. 


Here are five reasons that you should be adding IB's to your whisky collection:

  1. Vintage - OBs are about consistency. Laphroaig has to produce tens of thousands of bottles annually, and each one has to taste the same. IB's have no such restrictions. They age each barrel just to the point at which they think it's perfect and then release it at whatever vintage (year of distillation and age) that they like. Each release is different which is part of the fun.
  2. Water - OBs are typically diluted with water to "proof them down" from their natural alcohol content to a standard market level. Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Macallan are watered down to 43%. IB's can release at any proof and will often offer cask strength, undiluted expressions of your favorite malts.
  3. Caramel - The dirty little secret of many OBs is that they use caramel food coloring to darken the spirit. Even our favorite OB, Lagavulin, contains caramel coloring. IBs almost never add coloring.
  4. Chillfiltration - OBs tend to chill-filter their spirits to prevent inconsistencies and cloudiness in the bottle. Most IB's will specifically list "uncolored, unchillfiltered" on the bottle. This means you're getting richer flavors that may have been lost in the filtration process.
  5. Price - With an IB you can find seriously well-aged malts at a much more affordable price than the official releases. If you're looking for a 30 or 40 year malt, this is a great place to start!

Next week, our whiskey club Beast Masters Club will be sitting down with Tricia Chimento who represents Signatory Vintage, one of our all time favorite Independent Bottlers. Tune in to our next podcast to learn from Tricia about the ins and outs of hunting for special barrels, maturing, and bottling legendary independent releases. And stay tuned for hand picked bottles available in the Beast Masters Shop from the Signatory collection.

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