SF Chronicle — The best indie craft whiskeys can be hard to find. Could this experimental company help?
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On Friday, two very delicious Bay Area whiskeys will be released in an unusual sort of way — and if you’re a craft whiskey nerd with some discretionary spending money, they’re worth seeking out.
The whiskeys come from two of our region’s top distilleries, Spirit Works in Sebastopol (195 bottles, $80 each) and St. George in Alameda (250 bottles, $150 each). The distilleries themselves won’t be selling these new bottlings, however. Instead, they’ll be sold through a new Vermont company called Lost Lantern, which is trying to replicate in the U.S. a business model familiar in the Scotch whiskey industry known as independent bottling.
It’s a simple concept: The independent bottler buys whiskey from a distillery, then bottles it under its own label. Sometimes, not always, the bottler will take some creative license and blend some whiskeys together to create a new taste, but the bottler isn’t doing any of the actual distilling. The model helps small, regional distilleries bring their products to a national audience; allows them to release unique, experimental spirits; and, ideally, helps customers sift through a sea of newly available craft whiskeys by curating a small selection of what the independent bottler considers to be the best.
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