Not dependent on or affiliated with a larger or controlling entity and Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others. I think most people assume that independent always means small, but as others have pointed out, Glenfiddich is still technically independant.
(And even that's a simplification--the Bruichladdich chart would contain Murray McDavid and maybe some other things, and I'm not sure what would be where. But that's the basic idea.)
for me "independent" also means independently run and not a part of a large conglomerate or business empire or entity.
Exactly as your definition shows.
As for Bruichladdich, what influence do Murray McD. have on the business and running of the distillery?
Do they have any controlling 'say' over business decisions / directions, or are they just part of the financial backing?
Although "independent" is often associated with 'small', I guess mainly because much of the drinks trade is controlled or swallowed up (pun intended!) by very large corporate giants who tend to have more financial clout that a single family or privately owned business, this is by no means a 'must'. Glenfiddich is a good example, as is Glenfarclas too.
We feel our independent status and freedom of expression would be compromised by censorship by the SWA under pressure from its larger members on matters we feel are important to the consumer.
(highlighting is mine)
Clearly, they would not be owned by the SWA in case they join the SWA, so there are apparently several concepts that can be called "independent". My reply was simply to give a definition that fits in C_I's first examples, but given his second reply apparently the definition does not fit with his concept of independence (given the fact there are examples that he apparently considers counterintuitive).
In the brewing world, CAMRA invented the term "small independent" as distinct from "national" - and they defined six national groups and painted them to be demons producing bland beer. Eventually legislation came through to restrict big brewing companies, with a result that some of the bigger companies slimmed down and some of the smaller companies fattened up. The terms "national" and "small independent" are now still used, but in ever less meaningful ways.
I guess many people will try to create a definition of independent in the whisky world that includes Bruichladdich but excludes others for reasons that I don't quite understand. If the definition that people choose is membership or otherwise of the SWA then so be it. Ideally, though, distilleries would all agree on definitions and labelling whether or not they were members of the SWA. Personally, I will judge distilleries on their output and, I'm afraid, some of the "independents" probably ought to concentrate just a little more on making their whisky taste nicer.
By the by, the non-members strike me as being a bit like the non union members at work who proudly proclaim their independence, save on the subscriptions, but benefit from the union's collective bargaining for terms, conditions and pay.
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