The Candid Celt
A Rationale For A Bottling I.D.
On a recent single malt shopping trip in
Scotland, in an effort to add to my collection, I observed
on the shelves of a very reputable liquor establishment two
twelve-year-old single malts with identical labels but with
very different single malts inside the bottles. One of the malts
had an extremely pale yellow color as one might expect from
a malt that had been matured in a plain oak cask. The other
had a deep amber color as would be the result from a first-fill
olorosa cask. I was startled, to say the least.
The single malt examples to which I refer were not from one
of the "seat-of-the-pants," private bottling outfits
that seem to be coming out of the woodwork these days. They
were from one of the most respected distilleries in Scotland.
So, why should I consider this a problem? Well, there are a
couple of reasons that I can think of:
One reason is that I am in the business of educating the masses
about the great and incomparable Scotch Single Malt Whisky.
There are enough variables (for which I am eternally grateful)
already that present sufficient challenges. This specific example,
though easy enough to explain to even the layman, could produce
an embarrassment for me and other experts who are asked for
malt recommendations. Even worse, it could result in undue confusion
for the novice who may be just developing an interest in the
For example, as relative to these two identically labeled Scotch
single malts, suppose that I had purchased the dark malt with
the obvious olorosa pedigree and really liked it. I then recommended
this malt to a friend over the telephone in the usual way, by
distillery, age and proof. My friend then rushes out and purchases
the bottle but he gets the other bottling. What will be his
opinion of my "expert" status now?
I believe that it is necessary for the industry to insist on
all bottlings being given a batch or 'run number' and that this
number be prominently displayed on the label. The proliferation
of private bottlings serves as even more reason for this argument.
We see this already being done in other areas of the liquor
industry. The greatest spirit of them all should be the first
to be concerned with proper identification when it comes to
the elimination of confusion among their constituency. Would
this be very difficult to do? Not really.
I would appreciate your opinions and reaction to mine. I would
really like to know what the Scotch single malt industry thinks.
The Scotch Doc
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