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Whisky 101

Asian Independent Whisky Bottlers you need to know

asia independent bottlers | independent bottlers

August 6, 2023

Independent Bottlers from Singapore to Japan that are becoming increasingly popular worldwide.

Independent whisky bottlers have been around for centuries, but they have seen a recent surge in popularity in Asia. This is due to a number of factors, including the growing interest in whisky among Asian consumers, the increasing availability of rare and limited-edition whiskies from Asian independent bottlers, and the growing recognition of the quality of Asian whiskies.

Countries like Japan, Taiwan, India, and South Korea have played pivotal roles in reshaping the whisky landscape. In particular, Japan, as we already talked about, has captured the world’s attention for its exceptional craftsmanship and meticulous attention to detail. 

However, Asian independent whisky bottlers are definitely stealing the show lately. Hence, in this article, we are going to explore more this market and suggest you some very good labels to try. Let’s see what is out there!

Origins and Development of Independent Bottlers

We’ve already talked about what is an independent bottler and the importance of this relatively new figure in the whisky industry.

Just to have a quick wrap-up, independent bottlers do not produce whisky themselves but instead, source casks from established distilleries to bottle and sell under their own labels. This arrangement allows them to select exceptional casks that showcase unique characteristics, providing whisky enthusiasts with a diverse range of flavours and expressions compared to the core bottles distributed by a distillery.

In the Asian context, the roots of independent bottlers can be traced back to the early 2000s when the whisky culture was gaining momentum in the region. Inspired by the success of Scottish independent bottlers, a few visionary entrepreneurs in Asia recognized the potential for offering diverse and exclusive whisky experiences to a discerning clientele. These pioneers set out to curate a selection of casks from renowned distilleries, focusing on quality, rarity, and authenticity.

Certainly, if you live in Europe or America these bottles are hard to find. However, it is worth knowing a few names, in case you get a chance to lay your hands on a whisky from an Asian independent bottler.

Auld Alliance

This Singapore-based bottler specializes in single malt whiskies from Scotland and Japan.

The adventure of The Auld Alliance, founded by Emmanuel Dron, an avid collector of rare whiskies, started with a bar in 2010. They have since bottled over 25 single casks under their own label, the first of which was a Benriach in 1976. The Auld Alliance’s products are also sold in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Paris, and Belgium.

If you happen to find yourself in Singapore, don’t miss the chance to experience The Auld Alliance whisky bar!

Situated on the second floor of the RendezVous Hotel, the bar hosts an impressive collection of more than 1,500 whiskies, some dating back to 1863. Here, you can indulge in vintage bottlings and rare gems. A must-visit for sure!

Our bottle recommendation

Ardbeg 1975
Bottling series: Lost in the Warehouse
Distilled: 1975
Bottled: 2005
Stated Age: 30 years old
Cask type: Bourbon Cask
Number of bottles: 24
Strength: 58.2 % Vol.
Size: 700 ml

Spirits Castle

Spirits Castle Pte Ltd is a distributor based in Singapore, but the company also takes pride in being an independent bottler. Since 2019, they have engaged in the art of bottling with their friends and suppliers. 

Eventually, their ultimate aspiration to become independent bottlers themselves was fulfilled in 2022. In August of that year, they marked a significant milestone by launching their inaugural overseas bottling venture in South Korea. The initial release featured two exclusive expressions tailored for the South Korean market – a Linkwood 2011 11 Years Old and a Benriach 2013 8 Years Old.

Despite the abundance of independent bottlers in Singapore, Spirits Castle aims to dream bigger and reach a global audience. They envision themselves as a Singaporean independent bottler with a stage that spans the world. And we are looking forward to hearing more from them!

Our bottle recommendation

Spirits Castle Ben Nevis 2012 8 Years Old
Distillery: Ben Nevis
Distilled: 2012
Stated Age: 8 Years Old
Cask Type: First-fill White Port Pipe Finish
Strength:: 53% Vol.
Size: 700ml

Whisky Age

Founded in 2017 by Rex Weng, this new company from Taiwan has already become popular. Their high-quality whiskies are hard to find as they are released in small batches. Their philosophy? They only bottle spirits that move them!

Whisky Age meticulously handpicks each cask in their collection. They make it a point to regularly monitor and assess the maturation progress of the casks, ensuring that the optimal flavours are attained. As of the close of 2022, the company boasts an impressive inventory of hundreds of casks, spread across both Scotland and Ireland.

Our bottle recommendation

Secret Speyside 1997
Distilled: 1997
Bottled:.2022
Stated Age: 25 years old
Cask type: Barrel
Number of bottles: 209
Strength: 46.9 % Vol.
Size: 700 ml

Animal Spirits

Animal Spirits is an independent bottler based in Singapore with a mission to connect curious enthusiasts to distinctive and outstanding spirits from around the world.

Their vision is to become the trusted curator and independent bottler, bridging the gap between enthusiasts and the ever-expanding world of fine spirits through experience, education, and, most importantly, enjoyment.

A vital aspect of their mission involves showcasing independent bottlers and lesser-known distilleries and spirits, with the goal of spreading this knowledge throughout Southeast Asia. Collaborating with reputable Independent Bottlers, Animal Spirits meticulously curates exceptional bottlings, ensuring a diverse selection of quality spirits offered at a remarkable value.

Our Bottle Recommendation

Animal Spirits & TWA – Ardmore 1997 
Distilled: 1997
Type of Cask: hogshead
Number of bottles: 70
Strength: 48.7% Vol.
Size: 700 ml

Aqua vitae

Aqua Vitae is an independent Taiwanese bottler established by Allen Chen in 2005. Their aim is to bring more colour and fun to life through whiskies’ unique aromas and tastes.

Allen observed a shift in Taiwanese drinking culture and flavour preferences, particularly concerning whisky and other spirits. Hence, he started to select his own casks by cooperating with distilleries to offer Taiwanese whisky drinkers more choices of flavours.

Our bottle recommendation

Glenrothes 1996
Bottling Series: Water
Distilled: 1996
Stated Age: 23 years old
Cask type: Sherry Hogshead
Number of bottles: 155
Strength: 49.6 % Vol.
Size: 700 ml

Whisk-e

Founded in 2000, Whisk-e independent Japanese bottler company

In 1995, they first ventured into the drinks business through connections with the recently established Isle of Arran Distillery. This introduces them to the concept of ‘Craft Distilling’. 

They were drawn to the idea of small-scale production, carried out by passionate individuals who prioritize the use of the finest ingredients available. Hence, even today, their focus remained on achieving exceptional flavours and aromas, rather than being solely driven by big batch releases.

Our bottle recommendation 

Clynelish 1996
Bottle series: Hemp & Sparrow
Bottled: 1996
Stated Age: 19 years old
Cask Type: Hogshead
Strength: 54.3 % Vol. 
Size: 700ml

Club Qing

Club Qing was founded in 2015, and it operates an independent bottling business as well as a whisky bar in Hong Kong. Over the years, they have bottled numerous casks from Scotland and Japan, as well as for private customers.

Located at the heart of Central – Lan Kwai Fong, Club Qing stands as a whisky bar that specializes in rare and aged whiskies. Their extensive selection proudly showcases Japanese whiskies from both past and present, encompassing all Japanese distilleries.

On the Scotch side of things, the bar places a strong emphasis on offering rare and vintage expressions. Among the remarkable whiskies they have, are names like Bowmore 1957, Bowmore Bicentenary, Laphroaig, Caol Ila from the 60’s, and Macallan from the 30’s & 40’s. Additionally, they proudly feature whiskies from closed distilleries such as Port Ellen, Brora, Convalmore, St. Magdalene, Glenugie, Rosebank, just to mention a few.

Club Qing prides itself on not only providing an extensive selection of whiskies by the glass but also offering options to purchase them by the bottle or even by the cask. In 2015, the establishment achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first independent bottler headquartered in Hong Kong.

Throughout the years, they have successfully bottled numerous casks originating from Scotland and Japan. Their portfolio comprises a diverse range of maturing casks.

Our bottle recommendation  

Speyside Region 1975
Distilled: 1975
Bottled: 2016
Stated Age: 40 years old
Cask type: Fino Sherry Butt
Number of bottles: 96
Strength: 52.8 % Vol.
Size: 700 ml

Conclusion

We explored together some of the bottlers’ labels in Asia. But we are aware that there are many more! What are your favourite Asian whisky bottlers? Share this article on your socials, tag Mynameiswhisky and let us know!

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