Why distillers sell to brokers and Independent Bottlers

let’s begin

We get asked quite often 'why would a distillery sell you their casks and their spirit' so today I thought we should address that.

There are many things a distillery can do with their spirit when it has been distilled, selling to Independent Bottlers being just one. Let’s take a look at the options and why they happen.

The obvious one; mature it into a single malt release to be bottled years later or to be blended into one of their house blended brands such as Bacardi would do with Aberfeldy going into their Dewar’s brand but then also being released as a single malt in its own right under the Aberfeldy brand.

Most also have ‘filling contracts’ with other brands / producers from big blends like Johnnie Walker to Teacher’s to Dewar’s to Independent Bottlers like Douglas Laing and SMWS so they will fill a certain amount of spirit per year either into cask or into tankers for movement to the customer’s warehouses for filling in casks they have sourced from their suppliers.

Others sell to the broker market to raise capital or because some casks once mature do not sit within the target flavour flavour profile of their current range or it has not been maturing in casks that they now want to use within their blends or single malts or single grain releases.

Big players such as Diageo, Bacardi and William Grant & Sons will have private HMWI (High Net Worth Individuals) that they look to sell casks to around the world, although in reality it is typically in Asia, in limited quantities each year – these will command a massive premium due to the provenance of the seller as well as being located either near the distillery for maturation or being from a distillery that does not actually sell to IBs / brokers.

Nowadays one of the main reasons for selling casks of spirit is to raise funds for expansion or continued production as many newer distilleries will do as well as building loyalty through founders clubs and guaranteeing cash flow years ahead of being able to sell mature spirit under their own name.

GreatDrams, as Independent Bottlers, use a vast network of brokers, distilleries and warehouses to obtain our casks, working with trusted suppliers who we have worked with for years now meaning we can act fast, make decisions when casks are presented to us or can send out the bat signal when we want specific things like more Girvan or Benrinnes casks and they will then scour the world of whisky warehousing to find them for us.

So all in all there are loads of reasons for distilleries to sell casks and loads of ways for us to obtain casks, but no matter how we get them, and how long we subsequently keep ageing them for, we would only ever bottle something truly brilliant… as that’s what you’d expect from multi-award-winning whisky producers, right?

Tags: brokersdistillersGreat DramsGreatDrams Company BlogIndependent BottlersWhisky


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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