Lady of the Glen Single Casks (Knockdhu, Glen Elgin, St. Bridget’s Kirk)

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Lady of the Glen is an independent bottler of Scotch whisky that was established by Gregor Hannah in 2012. The name is inspired by the tale of the Green Lady that is said to haunt Stirling Castle.

The legend tells of a young maid in the service of Mary, Queen of Scots. Gifted with the “second sight”, the young girl was subjected to terrible visions of a fire in the Queen’s bedchamber. Fearing for her lady’s safety, she began to guard the monarch as she slept. One tragic evening, the girl fell asleep and knocked over a candle and set the room ablaze. The Queen managed to escape but the servant girl was left behind in a grim example of a self fulfilling prophecy. Some claim her tortured spirit still roams the halls today with reports of bitter cries and the rattling of doors and windows…

As an independent bottler, Lady of the Glen sources casks from various Scottish distilleries and bottles with minimal interference, often at cask strength and always without filtering or colouring.

*Full disclosure: The whiskies featured in this article were sent to me 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.

Knockdhu 2012 10-year-old Single Malt

Knockdhu Distillery is located in Knock in Banffshire. Although it is within the Speyside limits, the distillery’s AnCnoc whisky is labelled “Highland Single Malt”.

This Lady of the Glen expression was matured in a Hogshead before being finished in an American Virgin Oak Barrel. It’s bottled at 58.2% and retails around £75.

Smell: Lots of new oak – as you’d expect from a virgin oak finish. Honey. Malt. High school woodwork class and sawdust. Oatcakes. Toffee. Vanilla. There’s also some green apples and pear, a touch of orange zest and even some lemon curd.

Taste: Apple juice and intense woody spice. Toffee. Malt. Caramel. New oak. Varnish and wood stain. Ginger, pepper and nutmeg. There’s an interesting note that might be liquorice. Water brought some green fruit notes.. Apple skins. Pear. White grapes. Maybe even a wee touch of oak charcoal in the back.

Thoughts: I found the oaky spice a little overwhelming at first but water opened the dram up nicely. The woodiness shifted into the background a little and the fruitiness of the spirit came to the fore. Especially liked the apple note that seemed to lead the way. A nice dram, especially when you find the right level with a few drops of water. Sometimes when you add water it feels like you just get a diluted version of the same dram but other times, like this, it becomes a whole new thing.

Price: I found it to be an enjoyable dram though not sure it captured my imagination enough to entice me into paying £75. The quality is there, though. If you like that new oak character you might really enjoy this one.

Glen Elgin 2004 18-year-old Single Malt

Glen Elgin Distillery stands just south of Elgin in the heart of Speyside. Established in 1898, it currently resides with owner Diageo. Official bottlings are limited with most of the spirit contributing to various blended Scotch brands.

This Glen Elgin was matured in a hogshead for 15 years before being finished in a first-fill sherry cask. It’s bottled at 53.1% and retails around £112.

Smell: Leather. Caramel. Furniture polish. Currants. Sultanas. Maple syrup. Toffee. Pecans. Walnuts. Raisins. Dark honey. Also orange liqueur and dark chocolate. A little floral touch to some of the sherry notes.

Taste: Raisins. Sultanas. Old oak. Leather. Some peppery spice. Honey. Big sherry arrival with dried fruits and caramel that develops into some woody spice and oak notes. Orange zest grated on a Christmas cake that’s been wrapped in new leather (that’s a really weird image). Water brought through some stewed fruits, like crumble filling.

Thoughts: An old and dignified single malt. It doesn’t feel like a sherry finish and I mean that as a compliment. The fortified wine is really well integrated with the spirit and feels more like a complete maturation. That’s not to say we’re in sherry bomb territory here. In fact, the sherry is prominent but not overpowering. It beefs up what could well have been a light, even inoffensive Speyside malt and turns it into something quite wonderful. Good body, lingering finish, excellent whisky.

Price: It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a whisky as much as this one. It’s absolutely top tier stuff and £112 doesn’t strike me as too extreme for an 18-year-old of such quality.

St. Bridget’s Kirk Batch #2 20-year-old Blended Malt

St. Bridget’s Kirk is a blend of malts from different distilleries. Each batch will be different from the one before. For Batch #2, Lady of the Glen have blended unpeated malts from Highland, Speyside and Islay malts. The components were married in an Oloroso butt before bottling at 20 years of age.

There were 281 bottles (all of which are now sold out) at 45.1% and it retailed around £75 a bottle.

Smell: Lots of sherry on show. Raisins. Sultanas. New Leather. Also some red fruit top notes. Cherry for sure. Treacle. Very much in sherry bomb territory here. Maybe a wee hint of burnt toast in the background. Some coffee. Caramel. Toffee. Touch of oak char. Even an interesting note of blackcurrant.

Taste: Getting that cherry and blackcurrant thing again. Barbecue flavour Pringles. To hell with it, throw in the Paprika flavour as well. Dark chocolate. Sherry-saturated oak. Water brought out some citrus, Terry’s Chocolate Orange and red grapes.

Thoughts: I was a wee bit surprised at first sip. I think the nose is so rich and full of sherry character that I was expecting something weightier. At 20 years of age, however, the whisky has grown lighter, even a little delicate. The sherry still dominates with real depth to the dried fruit notes but there’s a lightness to the texture. That’s not a failing, it’s just a matter of personal taste. I would have enjoyed it more were it a little heavier. Regardless of my own misplaced expectations, however, it is still a very good whisky.

Price: Quite frankly, I doubt you’ll find a more affordable 20-year-old malt, anywhere on today’s market. It’s no surprise it sold out so quickly. Exceptional value for money.

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