Are there independent bottler “house styles”?
We have many independent bottlers of Scotch whiskies, from the primary ones that have been around for a long time (Gordon & MacPhail, Cadenhead’s, Signatory) to the ones that followed in their footsteps. Some of the Indie-bottled whiskies have been great, while others not so.
But what about a house style? Wouldn’t it be easier to embrace (trust) a given independent bottler if you knew that, when you bought a bottle from them, there would be some consistencies you could count on?
I didn’t really think about it that much until I began tasting the Mackillop’s Choice whiskies the first few years they were released. I noticed a consistency–one of balance of flavors rather than eccentricity. No excessive sherry. No excessive oak. Even the usually aggressive Islay whiskies were balanced and toned down.
You might like this or you might not. But, I did see a pattern being established–one that you could count on if you were considering buying a Mackillop’s Choice whisky. Lorne Mackillop tells me it’s his wine background that aids him in his selection process.
So, what do you think? Do you see a house style from independent bottlers? If so, who? What’s the style? And do you like it?