... your opinion on whats best - official bottling or independent?
No need for a big list of many different bottlings, I am looking at the overall view.
And yet we do hear and read of independent releases that are simply bad whiskies.
My view is, if that's the way the distillery wants me to taste it, then that's the way I'll taste it!!
At least with a single cask IB if you like a particular cask it is possible to get another bottle of it. With OBs sometimes I absolutely love one of their standards and years later I buy another bottle and only the label is the same, the taste is now completely different. Some say this is part of the joy of single malts, the inconsistencies make it fun, but if they're going to vatt the stuff they should get it right! Differences are alright but going from great whisky to bad is not a good inconsistency. When you have a cask number you know (poor bottles and corks aside) what you will get.
Another point for independent bottlers is some allow you to get whisky which is not coloured or chill filtered which allows you to get a different taste. Some are better chill filtered, others are better unfiltered. Now that Ardbeg, Bruichladdich and others are going unfiltered for their OBs this isn't as important but others will continue to send us 40% ABV, filtered medium grade scotch.
There is snobbery all over the whisky buying population. Some whisky societies advertise that they only bring in whiskies older than 15 years -- why? Nonesense I say to those who claim you can't have a good whisky aged less than so many years. Other people will tell you that old whisky is just whisky that was still awful at 8-12 years and they're just glad that it got better rather than worse, and then fell over themselves when people wanted to pay huge money for this old stuff! Some insist that the best stuff goes to blenders while the unacceptable casks sit around for years of additional aging to sell to whisky snobs who don't mind paying top dollar for a number on a label. Who knows what is true?
My rule is I drink whisky because I like it. If I can only get an OB or an IB then that's what I drink. If I happen to prefer an IB over an OB in the rare case where I can get both, I'll drink the one I prefer. If I happen to favor an older version, I'll drink it; if I prefer younger, all the better. If I don't like one, I won't buy it again and after a couple of strikes against a distillery or bottler I may not buy anything from them in future.
your right about us having a better choice than you (Why don't you come and live over here ? ).
Another side to the O.B. v I.B. discussion is cost .At one time it used to be that distillery bottlings were more expensive (the 3 most expensive bottings i've bought have been distillery bottlings 2 Ardbegs and a Laddie) and the independents were the cheap option . But just look at the way prices have altered , the I.B.'s seem to have shot up .The OMC's have crept up in price ,as have the O&R series (at least the Ardbegs have !) ,of course this could just be because of popularity .
Personally, I enjoy both IB and OB and have been impressed (and am grateful for) the general high quality of malt whisky now available. Although I prefer some malts over others, I think it is an issue largely of taste as opposed to quality. I'vw come upon very little mediocre whisky in recent years.
As far as the chill-filtering question, I am undecided on that one. It may be more an issue of perception rather than reality. I have a chemistry background and it is not clear to me how removing some low solubility compounds adversely impacts the flavor of a whisky when the main flavor components are the volatiles. I would like to be able to do a blind tasting of filtered and unfilitered samples from the same cask to see if their is a significant difference.
My malt collection is about half and half. I probably bought more than half my OBs without a prior taste and based more on the reputation of and my previous experience with the distillery. More than half my IBs would have been based on prior tasting or specific recommendations from people who have similar tastes.
Overall, I've been very satisfied with both!
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