With so many distilleries, how do you know who’s producing great whiskey, who’s doing something interesting, and how you can get hold of that whiskey from smaller or regionally focused producers? Several years back, industry insiders Nora Ganley-Roper and Adam Polonski realized that this was a challenge they wanted to tackle. In October 2020, they launched Lost Lantern, modeled on Scotland’s long tradition of Independent Bottlers. As a new American Whiskey Independent Bottler, their purpose was clear: shine a light on the most exciting and unique whiskies being made in America and release them as single casks and blends with complete transparency.
Since debuting less than three years ago, Lost Lantern has released 36 single casks and one blend, working with 20 distillery partners across 17 states.
In the past year, Lost Lantern releases have been recognized by some of the most respected critics, publications, and competitions in the whiskey industry, thus acknowledging their expertise in identifying top-notch whiskies and distillery partners and their skill in creating collaborative blends.
Lost Lantern whiskies result from a rigorous selection process by the Lost Lantern Tasting Panel, which consists of Nora and Adam. Both came to the company with significant industry experience: Nora previously ran the sales floor at Astor Wines & Spirits, one of New York’s top whiskey retailers, and Adam had served as a Senior Whisky Specialist, editor, and whiskey reviewer at Whisky Advocate magazine.
Lost Lantern has committed to visiting every distillery they work with for single casks and blends. The co-founders believe the visits allow them to get to know the whiskies on a deeper level. “We look for distilleries with a unique perspective and are making whiskies with a real sense of place. We want to release whiskies that reflect where they’re made, how they’re made, and who made them,” said Nora. “The whiskey must be good, obviously, but it also has to be interesting or distinctive in some way. We research every distillery extensively and do not even begin our selection process until after we’ve visited.” The team has visited more than 100 distilleries since founding the company.
In addition, the single cask selection process is never completed on-site. Whiskies go through a rigorous multi-flight, multi-day tasting process. Ultimately, Nora and Adam must agree on the final selections ensuring the single cask fits the Lost Lantern palate and purpose.
Lost Lantern’s flagship blend, American Vatted Malt, was the product of a collaborative process with hands-on involvement from all six distilleries. “We are excited to be part of the growing movement of American blenders. For so long, the focus in American whiskey has been on the distiller but we think blending can be equally as important,” commented Adam.
For 2023, Lost Lantern expects to continue to release unique single casks, new multi-distillery blends and other new forms of collaborations with its distillery partners. “The world of American whiskey is rapidly transforming,” said Adam. “New and innovative whiskies and distilleries are emerging all the time, and projects that were impossible just two years ago are now coming to fruition. The future of American whiskey, and the role of independent bottlers as part of it, is very bright.”