As if it wasn’t confusing enough for most people to keep track of Scotch single-malts (there are over 230 tags on Whisky2.0, most of which are Scotch distillery names), there are some “single malts” for which no actual distillery appears to exist. Clearly the product exists: So someone made it! But if you try to find out who did, you quickly discover a lot of supposition and not many facts to speak of.
I know of two three of these:
Finlaggan is, according to its bottle, distilled on Islay. But there are 8 distilleries on Islay and none of them are named “Finlaggan.” This site has some seemingly credible information on who makes it.
Glencallum recently started following @whisky2dot0 on twitter (thanks for that, btw!), and it struck me that I have never heard of them. (I can’t claim to have heard of everything, but in compiling my list of distilleries, I have heard of a lot of the distilleries that have been active in the last 50 years.) When I got around to checking out their site, which has annoying background sounds of waves crashing, btw, I was surprised to see that they have an expression that is made on Islay. As with Finlaggan, there is no distillery on Islay named Glencallum.
Similarly, Lismore claims to be a Speyside Single Malt, but there is no such distillery on any map of Speyside that I can find. People theorize that Lismore is actually distilled by Glenfarclas or The Glenrothes, but no one knows for sure. William Lundie & Co. Ltd. produces it (according to the bottle!), and they are listed as a bottler and blender on this site, so maybe it’s not that mysterious what’s going on: They are taking someone else’s product and bottling it under the Lismore name.
According to one of the comments in the link under Glencallum (repeated here), there are many “mystery malts” on the market. This situation feels a little bit like an independent bottler, except they are not bottling it under the original distillery’s name.
To be clear: I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this practice. It’s even somewhat fun to try to figure out the actual source. I am more interested in the various ways that malts can come to market. I know of OB (Original Bottling) and IB (Independent Bottling)…maybe this is MB (Mystery Bottling). 🙂