Lady of the Glen Single Casks (Glenrothes, Benrinnes, Linkwood)

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Introduction

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

For part two 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.


Glenrothes 1998 23-year-old Single Malt

Glenrothes is a Speyside distillery that was established in 1879. Today it is owned by the Edrington Group which bottles a small amount of the spirit as a single malt.

The Lady of the Glen expression is an older version, aged for 23 years in a refill barrel before being bottled at 42.9%. Retails at £190.

Smell: Picking up lots of fruit to begin with. Orange. Peach. Apricot. Tangerine. It’s also quite malty and gristy. Muesli and cereals. Oak and sawdust. Pencil shavings, even. Toffee. Salted caramel. Lemon. Floral honey. Pear drops and barley sugars. Wee touch of pepper but the heat is minimal. Almond and salted peanuts. Delicate but very complex nose.

Taste: Malty with honey and toffee. Turning oaky mid-palate. Caramel. Chocolate. Mouth-watering oak. Vanilla. Buttery. Some subtle orchard fruits towards the woody finish. Surprisingly peppery.

Thoughts: I have a strained relationship with Glenrothes. It’s a brand I often find lacks a certain something, especially where official bottlings are concerned. Indies can be better but even then, this light Speyside whisky is often buried under a big dollop of sherry and I’m not all that convinced it’s really suited to it. This Lady of the Glen bottling is something different at least. It’s spent its long years in a single refill barrel so there’s no big assault of sherry to contend with. It’s also come down to 42.9% suggesting there’s been some very greedy angels at work. Older low-strength whiskies like this can turn very light and tropical but while it had a lot of fruit going on, I found it surprisingly peppery. You really have to be careful when adding water to such a dram and I tried to get past the pepper a little but water only seemed to intensify it and I ended up almost drowning my sample.

It’s a quirky and interesting whisky but I’m not sure it’s done much to convince me that Glenrothes has a great personality. No doubt still a more accurate portrayal of distillery character than the sherry-swamped versions, however.

Price: An interesting diversion from the majority of Glenrothes bottlings and £190 probably isn’t extreme for a 23-year-old single cask. Sadly it didn’t grab me enough to have me paying that kind of sum.


Benrinnes 2011 11-year-old Single Malt

Diageo-owned Benrinnes distillery has been at the heart of the Speyside region since 1826. Official bottlings are rare but it regularly crops up in independent bottlings.

Here, Lady of the Glen have produced an 11-year-old that was finished for 18 months in an Oloroso cask. Bottled at 57.1%, it retails at £81.

Smell: Walnut. Dark chocolate-covered raisins. Warm spice – cayenne pepper. Orange. Barbecue sauce. Paprika. Orange liqueur. Cranberry. Leather. Balsamic. Wee bit meaty. Truffles, even.

Taste: Christmas Cake. Orange zest. Chocolate orange creams. Cherry. Walnut. Chestnuts. Earthy. Oak. Golden syrup. Coffee. Black pepper. Water brought out some classic Speyside fruits.

Thoughts: Nice mouthfeel to this one. The sherry finish is well done – it adds to the experience rather than dominates. Particularly when water is added, you can pick up the spirit character coming through. The sherry shifts slightly off-centre and stops hogging centre stage. Instead it becomes one component alongside honeyed malt, new oak woodiness and even some orchard fruits.

Price: We’re not quite in bargain territory here but it’s single cask and cask strength so perhaps £81 isn’t excessive. Not in today’s market anyway. Lots of sherry on show but the Benrinnes character stands up to it and makes for an interesting enough dram to carry the asking price.


Linkwood 2012 10-year-old Single Malt

Another Diageo-owned Speyside whisky. Linkwood was established in 1821 and spends most of its time producing spirit for various blended Scotch brands.

This Linkwood bottling was aged for a total of 10 years, including 11 months in a tawny port cask. It’s 56.1% and will cost you around £72.

Smell: Toffee. Salted caramel. Chocolate. Peanuts. A bit like Snickers Bars. Oak. Furniture polish. Berries. There’s quite an Autumnal vibe. Like forest walks with some fallen leaves and wet twigs underfoot. Maple syrup. Nutmeg and star anise.

Taste: Some nice fragrant spice upfront. Pepper. Ginger. Chilli powder. Wee touch of strawberry, raspberry and even blackcurrant. Toffee and caramel. Chocolate orange. Honey. Warm, drying finish.

Thoughts: I loved this whisky. The tawny port gave some interesting fruitiness but also a lot of woody spice. A splash of water brought things into balance with the port fading to reveal a honeyed, creamier character. From then on the whisky felt beautifully poised. It’s luxurious and robust. Big, bold and brilliant.

Price: The pick of the trio for me and an asking price of £72 wouldn’t put me off in any way. More than good enough to justify the price and easily my pick of the trilogy.


For more on Lady of the Glen visit https://www.ladyoftheglen.com/


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