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A Bastard Malt Gets Proper Parents

by Oliver Klimek on June 30, 2010

Yesterday indpependent bottler A.D. Rattray announced that their undisclosed malt Stronachie is distilled by Benrinnes.

No big deal, you might say. But if you have been monitoring what’s happening in the whisky business, this news is most unusual to say the least. Stronachie was one of those bastard malts with unknown origins. A.D. Rattray wanted to keep up the memory of a long lost distilllery by bottling a malt that comes as close as possible to the original after having had the luck to sample a small amount of the rare liquid distilled in the early 20th century.

On their website A.D. Ratrray gave two reasons for the disclosure:

  1. Many had correctly guessed the Benrinnes provenance anyway.
  2. They want to make sure they comply with the new SWA regulations by “removing the ambiguity”.

After careful reading of the 2009 Scotch Whisky Regulations I am not really convinced that this step really was unavoidable. I suspect they just waned to be on the safe side.

An Example For Others?

I wholeheartedly support this move.  Even though the story behind the Stronachie is a nice one, all those fantasy names of bastard malts always imply a notion of inferiority. Of course this effect is merely psychological, but if you’ve got a great malt, why not tell the world where it comes from?

But it would be naive to believe that this decision by A.D. Rattray will the beginning of the end of bastard malts. Distilleries want to have an elegant means of selling their whisky without everyone knowing its origin. The SWA could have easily included the obligation of full disclosure of the distilleries for single malt bottlings. The fact they did not speaks for itself.

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