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Scotch Malt Whisky Society owner acquires independent bottler

The Artisanal Spirits Company (ASC), which owns the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS), has announced the acquisition of US-based independent bottler Single Cask Nation.

Hatton (left) and Johnstone-Yellin (right).

Edinburgh-based ASC acquired the SMWS in 2015 and launched small batch blended Scotch whisky brand J.G. Thompson & Co. in 2021.

The expansion of its portfolio to include Single Cask Nation, which was founded in 2011 by Jason Johnstone-Yellin and Joshua Hatton, is indicative of ASC’s international ambitions, as CEO Andrew Dane explained to the drinks business: “Strategically, the acquisition is well aligned with our stated ambition to further grow our presence in the US and, in particular, to take greater advantage of the sizeable and growing American whiskey market, while staying true to its core mission to captivate a global community of whisky adventurers with rare and exceptional bottlings.”

“One of the special things about being an independent bottler is handpicking and bottling exceptionally high-quality spirits from single casks, offering unique flavours and taste experiences that can’t be replicated. Independent bottlers add depth and variety to the whisky and spirits industry, for example by experimenting with different casks, ageing periods, and blending techniques, which results in unique whiskies,” he shared. He also cited the role independent bottlers can play in helping to boost the profile of “lesser-known distilleries”.

At present, Single Cask Nation works with single malt producers in, among others, England, Sweden, Israel, Australia and India. The US is its largest market.

Johnstone-Yellin revealed: “We’re also at the nascent stage of an entire category with American single malt whiskey, and there is a lot of exciting work to be done there to spread the good word. We’ve also been able to introduce the nation to mezcal, rum, and cognac so the future is very bright for curating a fresh selection of interesting spirits for an ever growing base of whisky/drinks fans.”

Asked if ASC plans to utilise Single Cask Nation’s services for the SMWS, Dane said: “Joshua and Jason will continue to run Single Cask Nation as a distinct business within the ASC group. While both brands will continue to seek out exceptional whiskies from all corners of the globe, including Scotland, you will never see the same whisky available from SCN and SMWS.”

“One reason, of course,” he continued, “is that single cask whiskies, by definition, are bespoke, one-time bottlings. But more importantly, the SCN and SMWS teams have their own selection teams and distinct approaches to bottling whiskies and telling their stories. As sister companies we have the opportunity to use one another as a sounding board or to connect one another to folks in the industry, but ultimately SCN and SMWS are pursuing their own unique paths.”

It has also been announced that American Single Malt Whisky Commission president Steve Hawley, formerly vice president of global marketing at Seattle’s Westland Distillery, has joined ASC and will be working closely with Single Cask Nation.

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