...where distraction is the main attraction.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Saying goodbye to Chieftain's

In October of last year, K&L Wine Merchants' D.O-G shared news that genuinely surprised me: Ian Macleod Distillers was "abandoning" their Chieftain's brand. Chieftain's has long been one of my favorite independent bottlers. I've tried at least two dozen of their single casks, and found not a single flop among them. At worst their casks were just fine, at best exquisite. I've also purchased a number of their whiskies. In fact, my stash includes more bottles of Chieftain's than of any other indie bottler.

Checking Whiskybase this week, I discovered that in fact there were zero Chieftain's distillery-specific single casks bottled in 2020, their only bottlings being the mystery-meat "Cigar Malt" and "The Village". So the dissolution seems to be happening, and it's understandable through a specific perspective. No longer a tiny operation, Ian MacLeod Distillers has developed into a second-tier player (with the first-tier being giants like Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Beam Suntory). They own three distilleries (Glengoyne, Tamdhu and second-act Rosebank), twenty other whisky brands (including Isle of Skye, Smokehead, Pig's Nose, Sheep Dip and Shieldaig), four gin brands and three rum brands. That's a lot of moving parts, and the single cask unit must have been seen as the most vestigial or too niche for their current business.

Since I see no hints that this situation will be reversed, it's time for me to send them out with a week of five Chieftain's reviews. Toodle-oo, Chieftain's, you were a good one.