Lady of the Glen Single Casks Part 1 (Nov ’21)

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Lady of the Glen is in an independent bottler of Scotch whisky. That means they source casks from all over Scotland and bottle them on their own label. The company was established in 2012 by Gregor Hannah.

Gregor was the son of a piper. From a young age he was intrigued by the bottles of whisky that were gifted to his Father. Later, whilst working in a bar he became enthralled with the charms of the single cask bottling and decided to start his own business.

The Lady of the Glen name was inspired by an old folk tale of the spectral lady that haunts Stirling Castle. The branding meanwhile incorporates the floral patterns of the Scottish wildflower. It’s an attractive and contemporary design, whilst the clear glass bottles show off the beautiful natural colour of the whisky. All Lady of the Glen bottlings are released without artificial colouring or chill-filtration.

I was fortunate enough to be sent some samples from Lady of the Glen’s latest batch of single casks and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on them across a few different articles.

*Full disclosure: I was sent the whiskies featured in this article free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the drams and the value for money they represent.

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Teaninich 2004 17-year-old (Tawny Port Finish)

Teaninich distillery was founded in 1817. For most of its life it has churned out spirit for various blended Scotch brands. In recent times, however, single cask versions have become relatively common. That’s a good thing because it’s an interesting spirit with a lot to offer.

Distilled 26th January 2004 and bottled 23rd August 2021. Bottled at 56.3%. Matured in a hogshead before finishing in an ex-Tawny port barrique for 2 years.

Smell: Orange peel wax. Caramel. Cinnamon. Brown sugar. Also vanilla and walnut. Touch of oak. Dark chocolate. Pepper.

Taste: Raisins and sultanas at the tip of the tongue followed by some black pepper. Oak with citrus notes next. More dark chocolate. Water lifted the wood slightly and allowed some more dried fruits to come through.

Thoughts: The port barrique has certainly made its mark but rather than the berry fruits you can sometimes find in port finishes you get rather intense oak instead. It benefited from a splash of water but I still found it rather too woody for my tastes. Shame because I was really looking forward to this one but the palate didn’t quite live up to the nose.

Value for money: £90 is probably quite reasonable for a 17-year-old single cask. Especially one with a port finish. Sadly, the whisky didn’t quite connect with me but I’m sure it will find its fans.

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Glen Elgin 2008 13-year-old (Madeira Finish)

Glen Elgin is a Speyside distillery just south of Elgin. It was founded in 1898, just before the whisky industry went into freefall. In fact, it was the last distillery to be built in Speyside for decades. In the 1930s it became part of DCL and has spent the years since producing spirit for use in Diageo’s blends. Most notably, White Horse.

Distilled 9th January 1998 and bottled 15th September 2021 at 55.2%. Matured for 10 years in a hogshead before finishing in an ex-Madeira cask.

Smell: Nutty with caramel, orange zest and cinnamon. Stewed fruits and burnt sugar. Oak.

Taste: Big fruity arrival with red apples, oranges and raspberry. That’s backed up by some warming winter spices. Also caramel, walnut and dry peppery oak on the finish.

Thoughts: This one I enjoyed. I’m a sucker for a big arrival but it’s important that the whisky maintains that momentum and this one does. It rolls over the tongue shifting from fruit to spice and back again. Crucially, the spice carries good intensity without stinging the palate or overpowering the fruits. Similarly you can feel the influence of 13 years in a wooden cask but the oak tannins only serve as a foundation for those all-important fruit notes.

Value for money: This one looks to be available for around £80. It’s not what I would call cheap but it’s got a decent age statement and a lengthy finish in a cask full of character. I’d say the quality justifies the price.

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Ardmore 2009 11-year-old (Refill Barrel)

Ardmore is a malt whisky distillery in Aberdeenshire, in the North East of Scotland. Owned by Beam Suntory, the distillery produces a distinctive, peated single malt.

Distilled 24th November 2009 and bottled 6th September 2021 at 57.6%. Matured in a refill bourbon barrel.

Smell: A typically smoky Ardmore. It’s not the medicinal reek of Islay, though. This is more like bonfire smoke. There’s also some lemon juice and vanilla, a little touch of fresh oak and some honey.

Taste: The smoke is less intense on the palate. Instead we get honeyed malt, vanilla butter cream and peppery spice. After taking its time, the smoke finally makes its return well into the finish.

Thoughts: If this were any other spirit I wouldn’t have tasted the drams in this order. Moving from a Tawny Port finish to a Madeira finish would have left the humble refill barrel at the end struggling to match up to the bold flavours. This is Ardmore, though. The spirit is perfectly capable of making its presence felt with minimal assistance from any cask. In fairness, the barrel has given something to the experience but that distinctive Ardmore spirit is the real star here.

Value for money: £70 for a 10-year-old single cask Ardmore is probably about average in today’s market. A quick look at Master of Malt turned up prices ranging from £45 to £100 for similarly aged alternatives. For any fan of Ardmore or even just big peaty drams in general, I’d say this is a solid purchase.

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