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Independent Bottlers: Are They Worth It?

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Yohobro 🇨🇦 | 35 ratings Posted 22 Nov '21

There are a lot of independent bottlers with rum available in my location and it is very hard for me to choose them when considering the next bottle. These are the companies that get barrels of rum from different distilleries around the world, then age, bottle and sometimes blend it as they see fit. The companies I see a lot are:

Rum Nation, Cadenhead, Compagnie Des Indes, Kill Devil, Valinch & Mallet, etc. 

Not sure if it is my purest attitude or what, but I can't seem to pull the trigger on any of these. I figure, if I want diamond distillery rum, why wouldn't I get it in an El Dorado bottle? So my question is for the people who have tried these and know more about them. What made you go with these different releases? Is it worth it? Any help at all is appreciated. Cheers!

Mr. Rumantic 🇩🇪 | 195 ratings Replied 22 Nov '21

Most independent bottlers make single cask bottlings. They buy from local distillery directly, or from a third-party provider. They look for certain barrels with a specific caracter or taste. Normaly, these bottlings are then without dyes, sugar and filtration. It is right, that it is not easy to keep an overview. But the quality of Velier, Kill Devil and Co is usually high. It has the advantage that the variety of bottlings is high and certain marks become accessible, which may not be so interesting for the manufacturer himself. E.b. the High Congener Rums of English Harbour. I buy a lot of rum from independent bottlers because they often have barrel strength and great interessting Rums. Like the Last Ward from Velier if you like Mount Gay. But to be fair i would not call myself an expert. Just my opinion 😇

Stefan Persson (TASTING CLUB) 🇸🇪 | 315 ratings Replied 22 Nov '21

Me personally avoid the big ones like Velier, CDI, Kill Devil, Plantation, etc.

The reason for that differs a bit but common is 1) that the good ones is to expensive (overpriced in my opinion) and 2) I don't like to fill my private bar with bottles looking exactly the same.

I must also say that all rum from the big independent bottlers, that I've tasted, tastes good to very good except from some Plantations, but it's up to one and each to decide whether it's worth the price or not.

Finally I must say that Mr. Gargano (Velier) makes lots of good for us consumers by helping some small distilleries reaching the market through his distribution lines, but obviously not for free when comparing the price of for example River Antoine in Grenada and outside Grenada.

Paul B 🇺🇸 | 425 ratings Replied 22 Nov '21


The only rum that I have tried from the Diamond Distillery in Guyana is XM Royal Gold 10 Year. This was my effort to see what a demerara rum was like with no added sugar. It only rated as a high 6 from me. I simply stick with El Dorado 8 Year as my only repeat purchases from ED because it has the least amount of added sugar.

Out of the dozen Plantation rums that I have tried, they range from 0-20 gpl of added sugar, with the OFTD being the only one with zero added sugar.  A panel of 7 tiki experts created this one a few years ago and I still buy it. To the best of my memory, I believe that it is comprised of 15 different rums from all over the Caribbean. One of the panelists is obsessed with no added sugar. As for my own ratings for these dozen, half of them were terrible and the other half ranged from very good to just okay. One is really taking a chance on their limited bottling rums.

vomi1011 🇩🇪 | 396 ratings Replied 22 Nov '21

Rum distillers produce a lot of rum and blend uniform products in large quantities. In the past, the IBs were the only ones who bottled single casks in cask strength. The aim was to select particularly good barrels with individual character for connoisseurs.

In the meantime, the distillers also have good special releases. But the variation of single cask releases of IBs is still much higher. Some of them have built up a large stock of old barrels that will be released as single-cask bottlings in the next years.

You can find some very good bottlings from rum distillers like the 3rd El Dorado Rare Collection. You can also find very good releases from IBs. The question is whether you are interested in single cask bottlings or whether you would prefer good availability and consistent taste.

Yohobro 🇨🇦 | 35 ratings Replied 22 Nov '21

Great, thank you guys for the input. It never really clicked that these releases were mostly single cask, which is something I was hoping to get into. That does make a lot of sense that it's a bit more specialized and therefore expensive. As for the variety, that fits me very well as I think I've only bought the same bottle two times, and both were El Dorado. I much prefer to see what else is out there, and I think some of these IB's will be fun as hell. Thanks again for the help! 

Captain Lee 🇺🇸 | 25 ratings Replied 23 Nov '21

I buy a lot of IBs - I like higher proof points to drink neat, and the mass market 80 proof distillery bottlings don't appeal to me very much.  I'm happy to support the distillery directly when a product that suits me is available (Foursquare ECS, Hampden Great House), but many of them either do not release their own single cask or higher ester marque bottlings, or do so in limited fashion.  Find a single cask Port Mourant or Versaille bottling over 50% ABV and compare it side by side with your El Dorado.  If you're like me, you won't buy El Dorado any more.

Rene Rum (PREMIUM) 🇨🇭 | 494 ratings Replied 27 Nov '21

Most of the rums I buy from IB's are from my favorite distilleries. There you can always discover new facets of this craft. About half in my bar are from IB's.



If you have a good mix of IB's in the bar it doesn't look so boring anymore ;-)

Per Iversen 🇩🇰 | 1 rating Replied 20 Dec '21

Stefan Persson (TASTING CLUB) 🇸🇪 | 315 ratings Replied 20 Dec '21


That's of course true, if having a few bottles from each and everyone of them.

But as I wrote in my post above I also think that they are overpriced. One example is (which I have both of them) Velier's English Harbour bottling and English Harbour's own high esters and congeners bottling where you get an equal rum for 50% less money (release price).

Rene Rum (PREMIUM) 🇨🇭 | 494 ratings Replied 21 Dec '21


absolutely, some bottlings are really overpriced. But if I now compare the Savanna HERR 57 (64€) with the Velier Savanna HERR bottling (62.5%)(75€) the price difference is no longer so serious.

I look at the prices a little differently. The question is how much is a rum worth to you personally? I prefer to take a Velier Hampden 10-yo C<>H than a Diplomatico Ambassador Selectio. When I look at all those overpriced (my opinion) sugar bombers like Unhiq XO, Centenario 30 or Millonario XO, I rather approve an overpriced IB.

Stefan Persson (TASTING CLUB) 🇸🇪 | 315 ratings Replied 22 Dec '21


About the first part of your post I of course agree if the Velier is better.

About the second part I don't look at it that way, cause I don't compare a Jamaican rum with an sweetened Latino rum. But I'm of course making a judgement "Is it worth the money for me".

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