News Articles

No Rules: A Whisky Tasting Of Indie Bottlings




Whisky distilleries are always very protective of their brand and their releases. Quite rightly too, as reputation plays a huge part in the world of whisky. But sometimes it’s out of their hands – for better or worse.

Independent bottlers have long been a large part of the Scottish whisky industry. They will by stocks from distilleries or other agents and bottle them under their own label. Sometimes they acquire young whiskies and mature them themselves, other times they buy already-aged stock and get it into bottle quickly. Either way, they can do whatever they want with the spirit. Whether it’s better or worse is up to the drinker, but it’s certainly always different.

There’s been a few new bottlings arrive in Australia recently (and there’s more on the way – watch this space), so we’ve selected a few new releases, and some older ones, to crack open and discover what can happen when an independent bottler takes the reigns.

Seven whiskies have been cobbled together by us for no particular reason apart from a curiosity and a want to try a range of flavours. As such we’ll be trying a single grain, a blend and five single malts, six from Scotland and one from Australia. Some will be soft, some will be light, others sweet, and others meaty and smoky.

Their vintages range from 1960 all the way through to 2008. And how often do we get to try a 1960 these days?

It’s a tour round the flavours of Scotch (and Aussie whiskies), on steroids, hosted by The Oak Barrel's Scott Fitzsimons.

As five of the seven whiskies have an alcohol content of over 50%, please do not drive to this event. There is plenty of public transport around The Oak Barrel – there is a bus stop outside our front door on Elizabeth St and Museum Station is a 100 metre walk – so please make appropriate transport arrangements.

We’ll be trying*:

1. Clynelish 2008 (The Ten #3), 40.1% 
A light, honeyed dram taken from the stocks of Signatory Vintage

2. Cadenhead Port Dundas Single Grain 1988 20-Year-Old, 55.4%
A soft, sweet single grain from this now-closed distillery

3. Glen Grant 1960 Gordon & MacPhail, 40%
An extraordinary sherry cask 1960 vintage from Glen Grant, 96 points in the Whisky Bible

4. Auchroisk 1996 Berry’s Own, 55.2%
A complex, challenging dram from a rarely-seen distillery

5. Heartwood ‘Any Port In A Storm’ Summer Edition, 69.1%
A rich, sweet powerhouse from Tassie’s own independent distiller. A vatting of Sullivan’s Cove and Lark

6. Bunnahabhain 2008 (The Ten #9), 50.1%
A thick, earthy peated Bunnahabhain from Signatory Vintage’s stocks

7. Caol Ila 2004 Cask Strength Gordon & MacPhail, 60.5%
A muscly, meaty young Caol Ila matured in sherry casks

WHAT: No Rules: An Indie Bottling Whisky Tasting
WHEN: Thursday 28 April, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start
PRICE: $75 for members / $85 for non-members

 *Line-up subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances or stock levels. Tickets are non-transferrable and non-refundable. 

Pictured top: Barrels in Gordon & MacPhail's warehouse

Scott Fitzsimons