Lady of the Glen Single Casks Part 2 (Nov ’21)

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Lady of the Glen is the independent bottling label of Hannah Whisky Merchants. Founded in 2012 by Gregor Hannah, Lady of the Glen sources interesting casks of whisky from all over Scotland. Sometimes the casks are bottled as they are, other times they are transferred to secondary casks in order to add new layers of flavour.

The team at Lady of the Glen very kindly sent me some samples of their latest outturn. I’ve already covered three of them here but read on for part two of my review…

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

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Glenlossie 2010 10-year-old (Ruby Port Finish)

Glenlossie was established in 1876 in Speyside. The distillery spends its time churning out spirit for Diageo’s blends and the only official bottling is a 10-year-old in the Flora and Fauna series.

This 10 year old single cask from Lady of the Glen was matured for 7 years in a hogshead before being finished in a Ruby Port cask then bottled at 53.9%.

Smell: Lots of dried fruits. Rum soaked raisins. Cranberry. Raspberry. Woody, aromatic winter spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and clove… Pine needles. Wood resin. Gentle warmth rather than heat on the spice.

Taste: Quite woody upon arrival with a wonderful weight on the palate. With repeat sips the Port finish delivers berry fruits on the tip of the tongue before the dram develops some spicy prickle. The oak remains quite dominant, though it brings a lot of depth to the overall experience. With water, however, that woody character shifts into honey and caramels. A touch of blackcurrant coming through as well.

Thoughts: This one really came alive once I splashed in some water. The nose lightened and the overall balance of the experience was improved. Before adding water it was a bit like trying to smell berries inside a sealed wooden crate but a splash of water from my trusty little jug lifted the lid off the crate and released a world of fruity flavours. Excellent stuff.

Value for money: The dram is into double figures where age is concerned and it’s had a decent amount of time in that finishing cask. I’d be happy to pay the £70 asking price. No question.

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Dufftown 2008 13-year-old (Oloroso Finish)

The saying goes “Rome was built on seven hills but Dufftown was built on seven stills”. One of those stills, is now Dufftown Distillery.

Some of its single malt contributes to Diageo’s Singleton range but much of it goes into blends. Independent bottlings don’t seem to come along all that often.

Lady of the Glen seem to have something rather interesting here. The spirit initially matured in a hogshead before being transferred to an Oloroso quarter cask. The more observant among you will be aware that a hogshead is much bigger than a quarter cask. So what happened to the rest of the liquid? Stay tuned for Part 3 to find out!

Bottled at 53.1%.

Smell: Lots of sherry oak. Dark chocolate. Molasses. Burnt caramel. Coffee creams. Pepper. Maple syrup. With a generous amount of water I got wood polish and caramel with some brown sugar.

Taste: A seriously woody arrival. Lots of oak tannins with high cocoa content dark chocolate. Currants. Sultanas. Lighter bodied than the last dram but you can still feel those natural oils contributing to the texture. In truth, I found it a little oak-heavy to begin with but things got interesting after I added a second or third splash of water. More of the dried fruits came through with some honey, red apples and cherry.

Thoughts: This one is totally dominated by the quarter cask at first but if you’re willing to give it time and a fair bit of water, or I suppose, if you really love the flavour of oak, you’ll find something pleasant here. I was close to writing it off but decided to add a little more water to be sure. With that third splash I finally managed to part the oak and find some balance. Soon I was rather enjoying the experience. The oak never lifts completely but it becomes one element in a complex whole rather than a barrier that blocks off the spirit underneath.

Value for money: I’m not sure if I would pay the £82 for it but I don’t think the price is excessive. I’ve certainly paid similar for heavily sherried whiskies in the past. I just don’t know if the sample completely convinced me. I enjoyed it in the end, but I don’t know that I enjoyed it enough.

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An Islay 2010 10-year-old (Refill Hogshead)

There’s not much information on this one, other than it comes from one of the nine distilleries currently operating on Islay. Since Ardnahoe has only just reached the three-year milestone, I think we can safely rule them out. I’ll leave it to others to speculate which of the other eight produced this whisky.

It’s been aged for 10 years in a refill hogshead before bottling at 59.2%.

Smell: A big blast of the sea… Seashells, seaweed and foam spraying into the air. Driftwood, smoking on a bonfire. Also some vanilla, malt and lemon. Water softens the smoke and brings forth some apple and white grape.

Taste: Honey, vanilla and caramel followed by a big dollop of pepper. Then comes brine with barbecue coals and ashy smoke. Water releases some tropical fruits, pineapple, especially.

Thoughts: This dram made for a refreshing change after the cask onslaught of the previous offerings. It’s wonderfully fresh and maritime, like sucking in a big, deep breath of sea air. Very little cask impact, instead it’s the bold, smoky character of the spirit that does all the talking. Perhaps there’s nothing unusual that would make it stand out from other single cask Islay’s but the quality is as good as you’ll find in any other such bottling.

Value for money: The asking price of £72 seems fair. Perhaps it lacks the flashy finishes of other drams in the range but it more than makes up for it with smoky, coastal intensity. A classic Islay.

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For more on Lady of the Glen visit here

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