Iconic independent bottler, Silvano Samaroli An Independent Approach: The Legendary Silvano Samaroli

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When considering collectible whisky, distillery names like Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank are those that command some of the most reverence. Rubbing shoulders with these heavyweight producers however is that of an Italian gentleman, Silvano Samaroli. Like Van Gogh, Vermeer and the other great artists whose works were never fully appreciated until after their  death, one often wonders what Silvano Samaroli would make of the stratospheric rise in both demand and prices for his whiskies since his sad passing in 2017. 

Silvano entered the world of whisky in 1968, setting up Samaroli Import as the official distributor of John McEwen & Co brands in Italy, including its Chequers and Abbot’s Choice blends, and Linkwood single malts. In 1969 he imported a special cask strength Linkwood for Edoardo Giaccone, and was inspired to seek out his own exclusive releases. This resulted in a number of now-legendary releases in the 1970s, including two 1965 vintage Bruichladdich and the 1971 vintage Glen Garioch.

The company’s transition from importer to bottler began in 1979 when Samaroli imported a batch of Wm. Cadenhead’s famous “dumpy” bottlings of single malt. Mario Rossi were the official Italian distributor for Cadenhead products, so Silvano was required to relabel them, which he gladly designed himself. This inspired him to bottle his first casks, which he released as The Never Bottled Top Quality Whisky Series in 1981, also referred to by the snappier “Flowers” series on account of the labels, again designed by Samaroli himself. The bottling was done for him by R.W. Duthie, a harmonious relationship which lasted into the 1990s and produced some of the world’s most sought after whiskies, such as the 1967 vintage Laphroaig and the legendary Bowmore Bouquet.

Emmanuel Dron, whisky author and owner of the famous Auld Alliance bar in Singapore recently opened bottles of these famous whiskies for customers in that very venue, with enthusiasts and connoisseurs flocking from all over Asia to sample a drop of this liquid gold. 

 

I have always said if I had to bring only one bottle to a desert island, it would be Laphroaig 1970 bottled in 1986.

Emmanuel Dron, Owner of the Collection and of The Auld Alliance Bar

 

While it takes a great distillery to produce a legendary whisky, it equally requires a keen eye, mind and palate to select the right cask, and Samaroli had all of these in spades. Renowned for hand-selecting his own barrels, these iconic Islay whiskies were bottled by the man, widely regarded as a visionary, at the moment his raw talent was crystallising into something spectacular. 

Silvano Samaroli passed away in 2017 leaving a legacy of legendary bottlings that inspired those to follow in his footsteps and are lusted after by collectors worldwide. Since his passing, the company has been run by his friend Antonio Bleve, who continues his tradition of high quality releases. 

 

I am an interpreter of whisky. Every year I check my casks and decide if they are ready or not. With age, whisky gains in delicacy and fine aromas but will lose the body. I select the perfect balance between the aromas and the body.

Silvano Samaroli

An extract from an interview with Emmanuel Dron in Collecting Scotch Whisky

 

 

Two Of Samaroli's Most Important Releases

Bowmore 1966 Samaroli Bouquet

Regarded by many as one of, if not the best whisky ever bottled, the legendary status and reputation of the Bowmore 1966 Samaroli Bouquet has enshrined it as an undisputed icon in the world of whisky. The aptly named Bouquet was distilled in 1966, a golden era in production at Bowmore distillery, and represents almost the resplendent blossoming of the long-growing Italian love affair with single malt Scotch whisky.  

The  1966 Bouquet  is  the glittering supernova that is created  when two  key elements  of  whisky history collide,  at  just the perfect moment  in time. The coming together  of this  cask of Bowmore and Silvano Samaroli  is  one of those rare, chance meetings that  go on to write the greatest stories.

Joe Wilson, Head of Auction Content at Whisky Auctioneer 

 

Laphroaig 1967 15 Year Old Samaroli

One of Samaroli’s most renowned releases, the Laphroaig 1967 is often battling for the coveted first spot on WhiskyBase’s list of the top 1000 whiskies ever bottled. The Laphroaig 1967 currently holds the world record hammer price for a Samaroli whisky after a signed version sold in 2018 with Whisky Auctioneer for a hammer price of £61,000. The Laphroaig 1967 Samaroli is an example of two heavyweights of the whisky world at the very top of their game. The 1960’s was a golden era in production for many Islay distilleries, with the south-east coast’s Laphroaig no exception. 

Meetings between the Islay distilleries and the legendary Italian bottler, Silvano Samaroli,  have produced an absolutely stellar selection of whisky over the years.  No star  in this constellation of greats shines quite as brightly however, as the Laphroaig 1967 sherry wood. Revered by whisky  connoisseurs the world over, this is generally regarded as the best whisky ever committed to bottle.

Joe Wilson, Head of Auction Content at Whisky Auctioneer

 

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