Independent bottlers, a world of passion

28 January 2023 | Buyer's Guide
Independent bottlers, a world of passion

Who are the independent bottlers? In its simple definition, we are talking about brands that will select spirits from around the world and bottle them under their own banner.

If we are interested in the world of rum, you should know that this category is also present in most existing spirits: Whisky, Cognac, Armagnac, Mezcal, Tequila, etc… all sectors are concerned, which considerably feeds the market.

These adventurers who select barrels or white rums, bring added value because, in essence, independent houses are made up of enthusiasts who have decided to highlight know-how that touches and pleases them. It is therefore, through their vision of enlightened amateurs that they will choose detonating products in the spirits landscape.

A certain idea of ​​rum

They all have their own philosophy: some houses aim to appeal to the general public with smooth, round profiles that are easy to access both in terms of price and taste. These brands often focus on sales volume. Others will go in a very demanding direction with very limited editions, sometimes to formidable degrees, for an experienced palate, at budgets that only a few enthusiasts can afford. Of course, between these two extremes, there is a whole range of actors who will offer gems of all types and for all budgets.

Rarity, single cask and limited editions are at the heart of the philosophy of the bottlers who have made a name for themselves. Among them, since 2017, Excellence Rhum has been enriching its own collection of bottlings. Each selection aims to show gems from various regions, such as Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and many more!

Illustrious pioneers

One of the historic independent bottlers, and the most famous worldwide, is the French Plantation Rum bottler, which started in the late 90s selling smooth and easy-to-access profiles. Nevertheless, his rapid success allowed him to expand his range with exceptional profiles, single cask and cask strength. This heavyweight is currently one of the most innovative independent bottlers on the market. It has partly entered the category of official bottlers, since the acquisition of the W.I.R.D distillery in Barbados and by buying a third of  Longpond in Jamaica.

Long before, in Italy, the independent bottler Sylvano Samaroli, a huge whiskey lover, became interested in rum in the 1980s and worked to follow continental aging methodologies on these tropical spirits. In this style, still in Italy, great houses like Silver Seal have left their mark on the spirits landscape. Other immense houses, on the British side this time, the historic ones are Classic Bristol, Kill devil, Berry's Bros & Rudd or Cadenhead. These banners highlight the know-how of the West-Indies with brilliance and elegance.

Another key player is Velier. If its famous representative, Luca Gargano, does not define himself as an independent bottler, but as an accompanist of the official bottlers, he marks his signature with a black bottle which has become the holy grail of rum geeks. Velier is the spearhead of exceptional bottling with a philosophy of "sugar free" and "cask strenght" in almost all of its selections. Without him, the face of today's rum would not be what it is.

An increasing growth

The market for independent bottlers has been growing considerably and faster over the past ten years. New actors who emerge strike hard by multiplying the offerings. All over Europe houses are blooming. Among them are several French houses. The Ricci Family are multiplying references. Old Brothers, specialist in powerful and high ester rums, is today one of the inevitable bottlers. In Denmark, three major players, Nobilis, SBS and Rom De Luxe also push the limit of exceptional cuvées each year. This is just a small overview and each year new challengers appear with their selections.

The sphere of independent bottlers shakes up the rum industry because it breaks free from the chains of classicism. The alcohol content is less and less standardized, with palates being eager for power and great concentration. The demand for the original product is growing and does not seem ready to stop, whether in the overpriced exception, or the cheap gem.

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