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In this review I’ll be checking out some interesting new releases from Lady of the Glen. Founded in 2012 by Gregor Hannah, Lady of the Glen has recently celebrated winning Independent Bottler of the Year at the 2022 Icons of Whisky Awards.
For Part One of this review click here.
Aultmore 2009 12-year-old Single Malt
Distilled in 2009 at Aultmore Distillery in Speyside. Matured for 12 years in a refill wine barrique. Bottled at 54.5% and retails for £82.50.
Smell: Woody spice as soon as I put my nose to the glass. It’s almost bourbony. Lots of vanilla and toffee. Not quite what I expected from a wine barrique, at least to begin with. Then came some berry notes… Raspberry. Blackcurrant. Cherry. Almonds. Bakewell tart! Apple pie with cinnamon. Marzipan. Ginger.
Taste: I got the wine influence straight away this time. Raspberry and blackcurrant. Apple juice. Some fiery ginger and pepper. Lovely oily texture. More of the cherry note. Some oak tannins and dry spices on the finish. Water broke through the wine to reveal some dry grass, malt and honey.
Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this dram. The wine influence is big but not too big. The oak and spicy pepperiness gives the whisky quite a pleasing form – fruity then spicy then drying and woody on the finish. Wonderfully fully flavoured with a range of different tastes and aromas working well together. Great dram.
Value for money: £82.50 is perhaps a bit on the steep side – although who can say in today’s market. Having said that, I think the quality in the glass is very probably worth the price.
Benriach 2009 12-year-old Single Malt
Another Speyside distillery, Benriach is something of a chameleon malt, lending itself to a variety of different cask styles. This 12-year-old was distilled in 2009 and matured in a wine barrique before bottling at 57.2%. Retails for £90.
Smell: Another 12-year-old Speyside. Another wine barrique. It’s the battle of the barriques! This time we’re in much spicier, oakier territory. Ginger. Nutmeg. Cayenne pepper. Paprika. Walnut. Leather. Touch of cranberry. Orange peel. Maple syrup. A splash of water released some dried figs and prunes.
Taste: Big oaky arrival. Old leather. Dark chocolate. Charcoal. Blast of hot pepper. Burnt caramel. Turkish delight. Raspberry. Slightest hint of struck matches. Water toned down the heat of the pepper a little and the dram became a little more rounded. The finish had a touch of raspberry jam before turning dry and woody.
Thoughts: Since the Aultmore specified it was a “Refill Wine Barrique” and this Benriach says “Wine Barrique”, I’m guessing we’re in First Fill territory here? It’s probably more intensely flavoured but more oak-dominated and arguably less complex than the previous dram. It’s still a very satisfying dram with its sumptuous mahogany appearance and heady, decadent aromas. At points it almost comes off more like a sherry cask maturation. Very big and very bold.
Value for money: We’re still in premium territory where pricing is concerned although I’m sure single casks of wine barrique-matured Benriach don’t come cheap. There’s certainly no doubting the quality on offer it’s just that I think I’d rather opt for the Aultmore, which for me was a little more balanced and complex and also £8 cheaper. You have to find the savings where you can people!!
Dailuaine 2008 13-year-old Single Malt
A character malt from the Speyside region, Dailuaine famously works well with sherry casks. This 13-year-old was finished in Pedro Ximenez before being bottled at 53.7%. Retails at £90.
Smell: We’re moving into sherry bomb territory now. The PX launches itself out of the glass although there’s a nice little funky touch to things. Maybe even a wee bit sulphury – in a good way – like burnt toast. All the usual PX notes… Raisins, sultanas, prunes. Beaten up leather jackets. Polished mahogany furniture. There’s almost a hint of smoke but it isn’t peat. It’s possibly a touch of oak char. Orange peel. Star anise. Even a wee bit meaty – bovril! Great nose!!
Taste: Big, intense sherry arrival. Great creamy feel on the palate. There’s sultanas and currants. Dark chocolate. Glace cherries. Aged balsamic vinegar. Some gentle pepperiness towards the back. Moving into the finish there’s another burst of dried fruits before things turn oaky. Water parted the sherry a little. The PX wasn’t quite ready to fade into the background completely but it evolved and became less syrupy.
Thoughts: People will absolutely love this. Myself included. Sure, the finish dominates but the dram is pleasingly complex in the way the sherry shows itself. Leans towards the cask-led, rather than spirit-led, end of the whisky scale but it’s not a one-horse race. You get the feeling that Dailuaine as a spirit is big enough to carry it. The wee meaty, ever-so-slightly-sulphury thing just adds complexity and makes things more interesting. A very fine dram from one of the hidden gems of Speyside.
Value for money: Like the previous dram, this one comes in at £90 so we’re at the higher end of things. I try not to spend that much on bottles of whisky on a regular basis but occasionally, as a wee treat, it’s nice to splash out. Were I looking to do so at the minute, this bottle would be at the top of the list. I absolutely loved it.
St. Bridget’s Kirk Batch 1 Blended Malt
A blend of malts from the isle of Islay. Vatted together in a sherry butt and bottled at 48.5%. Retails at £60.00.
Smell: Big blast of Islay peat and luxurious sherry. Toffee. Dark honey. Chocolate orange creams. Orange zest. Raisins. Cinnamon. Brown sugar. Charred oak. The peat smoke is ever-present but it doesn’t dominate. That’s due to the power of the sherry influence. It’s all about balance between the sherry and smoke. Wee touch of red fruits. Something slightly rubbery – like the soles of a new pair of trainers!
Taste: Interesting that both sherry and smoke arrive almost simultaneously. Big blast of pepper too. Dark chocolate. Burnt toast. Touch of honey. Charcoal. Coal. Chargrilled meats. Currants. Sultanas. Oak. With water it turned a little citrusy.
Thoughts: This is an excellent little dram. It’s been bottled at a great drinking strength of 48.5% which makes it very more-ish. The smoke allows the spirit to punch through the big sherry blanket where weaker spirits would have been lost. Islay and Jerez in equal measure! What’s not to like?
Value for money: At £60, we’re not quite in bargain-basement territory but it’s still the bargain of the batch. It’s fully flavoured and robust and does everything you’d expect from a young Islay matured in sherry. Great value. Great dram. If this is going to become a new regular release going forward, it could really be one to watch.
For more on Lady of the Glen visit the link below…