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Lady of the Glen is an independent bottler of Scotch whisky that was established by Gregor Hannah in 2012. Hannah sources casks from various Scottish distilleries and bottles with minimal interference, often at cask strength and always without filtering or colouring.
This is part two of a review on recent releases from Lady of the Glen. For part one visit here.
*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.
North British 1996 25-year-old Single Grain (Charity Bottling)
The North British Distillery is a large grain plant in Edinburgh. It was established in 1885 by a group of distillers. Today, it is jointly owned by Diageo and Edrington.
All proceeds from this single cask single grain Scotch whisky go to the Big Hearts Community Trust charity. It’s been aged for 25 years in a single hogshead before being bottled at 51%. Retails at £180.
Smell: Things start with some green apples and orange. Lemon curd. Then comes honey. Cayenne pepper. Custard cream biscuits. Vanilla. More traditional grain notes emerge the longer it sits in the glass. Coconut. Cereals. Creme brulee.
Taste: Sweet butterscotch arrival. Subtle woody spice. Toffee. Ginger. Wee bit of citrus. Vanilla buttercream. Biscuits. Bread and baking spices. Caramel. More rounded with less heat after a drop of water. Touch of mango when water added. Maybe even banana.
Thoughts: Has all the qualities you expect to find in an old grain although North British (borderline offensive name aside) can be a little more interesting than other grains at times. This one definitely has a surprisingly robust mouthfeel and some serious depth of flavour. It’s also fruitier than any other grain I remember. A fine example of its kind.
Price: One of the better grain whiskies I’ve come across recently with some genuine spirit character coming through. I don’t know that I liked it enough to pay £180 for it but it’s a reasonable price for such an old whisky. It’s also for charity which makes it all the more worthwhile.
Dufftown 2008 14-year-old Single Malt
The Dufftown-Glenlivet Distillery was founded in 1895. Currently owned by Diageo, it is one of three distilleries to produce whisky for The Singleton single malt brand.
This whisky was originally matured in a refill hogshead before being transferred to an ex-Islay refill PX octave. There are only 57 bottles around so move quickly if it interests you. Bottled at 54.6% and retails for £90.
Smell: Oddly the nose struck me as quite bourbony to begin with. Lots of vanilla and caramel. Cinnamon. Cloves. Honey. Biscuit. All the smells of a bakery. Orange zest. Touch of dark chocolate. Only a wee suggestion of smoke. Very subtle. Sweet caramel and toffee. Stewed apples. Rich and appealing nose.
Taste: Honey. Toffee. Caramel. Butterscotch. New oak. Gently warming baking spices. Ginger. Cinnamon. Pepper. No blast of smoke but some charcoal notes. Slight burnt toast. With water I picked up some dried fruits and maple syrup. Almost a wood varnish note.
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. Those who don’t like smoke shouldn’t be put off because this is only the smallest suggestion (or at least that’s how my over-smoked palate picked it up). I’m finding Lady of the Glen’s finishing to be very well done in this batch and this dram is the same. It’s very well integrated. I’d love to taste the original whisky before it went into that octave – just to see exactly what came from the original cask and what came from the finishing cask. A complex whisky with some good cask interaction. Loved it.
Price: £90 isn’t cheap but 14 is a decent age and the whisky is in very limited numbers. It’s also a dram of exceptional quality. My favourite of this second trilogy, for sure.
Tomatin 2008 13-year-old Single Malt
Tomatin is a highland distillery that stands just south of Inverness. It’s owned by Japanese spirits company Takara Shuzo and produces a range of single malts, often marketed as “the lighter side of the highlands”.
This single malt was aged for 13 years, first in a hogshead then in an oloroso cask. It’s bottled at 58.2% and retails around £83.
Smell: The fortified wine is front and centre. Dried fruits. Walnut. Liquorice. New leather. Unlit cigars. Rich honey. Golden syrup. Pepper. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Apple. Marmalade. Honeyed and a little bready after water was added.
Taste: Orange. Raisins and sultanas. Lots of dry, woody spice. Charcoal. Lemon curd. Marmalade on toast. Burnt toast. Currant buns. Honey. Pepper. Cinnamon. Water seemed to intensify the spice and the dram even lost a little texture. One of those rare occasions a whisky isn’t improved by water.
Thoughts: Tomatin often fails to convince me. I get the feeling it’s a decent lightweight blending whisky but I’m not sure it’s really got the character to make a great single malt brand. That said, I’ve had some good ones over the years. It just feels like bottlers and blenders have to work a little harder to get a good liquid in the bottle. To be fair to them, Lady of the Glen have done well with this one. The finishing cask has beefed it up a little and added some bottom end to the experience. Water got me past the finish but I wasn’t all that convinced by the spirit underneath. Best at its full cask strength.
Price: I’ve seen single casks of 8 and 9 years retailing for £80 so it doesn’t seem too extreme for a 13-year-old. Especially one with a sherry finish.
For more on Lady of the Glen visit https://www.ladyoftheglen.com/