Reviews of interesting whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Lady of the Glen is the single cask label of independent bottler, Hannah Whisky Merchants. For a number of years now the company has been bottling fine whiskies from distilleries all over Scotland.
Below, you will find my tasting notes for four of their latest releases…
*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.
“Dalgety” Craigellachie 2009 12-year-old Single Malt
Craigellachie is a Speyside distillery that makes up part of Bacardi’s Dewar’s stable. Originally founded in 1891, the distillery has survived wars, industry downturns and multiple changes in ownership. Today, its single malt is known for a sulphury character, gained by reducing copper contact in the distilling process. Traditional worm tub condensers also help the spirit to retain some weight, meaning the mature malt can differ dramatically from some of its lighter Speyside neighbours.
This Lady of the Glen Craigellachie is a vatting of two casks: an ex-sherry and a refill hogshead. It’s bottled at 49.9% and retails for £70.
Smell: Lots of sherry. Dried fruits. Cherry. Toffee and salted caramel. Cayenne pepper. Wee touch of struck match and burnt toast. Burnt toast with honey, perhaps. Weirdly, it also reminds me a little of a spicy ketchup. Never had that before!
Taste: Full-bodied with thick, heavy sherry. Feels like you can chew on it. Lots of fire and brimstone – plenty of aromatic spices. Clove. Nutmeg. Ginger. Cinnamon. Chery cake. Raisins and sultanas. There’s something that could be a wee off-note in there as well. A wee metallic touch – iron – like biting your tongue and tasting blood!. That might sound bad but it actually isn’t. In any case, water toned it down a little and left a more balanced sherry / spice character with a bitter oak backbone coming through.
Thoughts: I’m aware some of my tasting notes for this one were a bit wild but it’s a really interesting dram. It does many of the things you’d expect a sherried Craigellachie to do but it has some funky stuff going on, as well. In truth, I thought it was a bit of a misstep at first but it won me round in the end. There’s a lot to be said for giving people what they want, in a way they didn’t quite expect.
Price: It’s priced at £70 which is fine by me. 12 is a good age statement, it’s a small batch release and it’s quirky enough to keep you coming back for more.
North British 1992 30-year-old Single Grain
The North British Distillery was established in 1885 in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh. Originally created by a group of independent distillers who wanted to rival the Distillers Company Ltd (DCL) it is now a joint project between the Edrington Group and ironically, Diageo – the descendant of DCL. The spirit of the North British Distillery is often said to be more robust than other grain whiskies.
This Lady of the Glen expression was distilled in 1992 and matured for 30 years in a refill bourbon barrel. It’s bottled at 46.9% and retailed for £112.
Smell: Cereals – Corn Flakes. Caramel. Custard tarts. Lemon curd on toast. Touch of orange peel. Freshly sawn wood and burnt sawdust. Honey on oatcakes. White pepper. Fresh baking – bread in the oven. Green apples and cinnamon.
Taste: Honeyed grain arrival. You can taste the duration of the cask interaction but it isn’t over-oaked – just a backbone of mellow oak. Some toffee. Oatcakes. Salted caramel. Breakfast cereal and apple. Peppery spice.
Thoughts: The nose is a little more complex than the palate although it’s spicier on the tongue than expected. Other than that, it’s fairly typical of older grain whiskies. There’s nothing bad to be said about it but nor is there anything particularly exciting – if you enjoy the older grain style, you will probably like this. If you don’t, I doubt there’s anything here to convert you.
Price: Single Grain whiskies are generally priced quite well – given how long it took for the liquid to get from still to bottle. That said, there are probably cheaper drams that I’d personally enjoy more.
Strathmill 2011 11-year-old Single Malt
Another Speyside distillery, Strathmill produces a lighter, fruitier spirit than the sulphury Craigellachie. The distillery was built in 1892 and was originally known as Glenisla-Glenlivet. Three years later, it was renamed Strathmill. Today it is owned by Diageo, with the only official single malt bottling coming as part of the Flora & Fauna range.
This Strathmill was matured in a wine barrique, before being transferred to a PX sherry octave for finishing. It’s bottled at 59.7% and retailed at £70.
Smell: Plenty of PX upfront. Sultanas. Currants. Prunes. Some red berries. Plums. Nutmeg and clove. Dunnage oak. Some fiery chilli powder in the background. Nutty – conkers! Touch of aged balsamic.
Taste: Feels powerful after the last two drams. You can feel that 59.7% cask strength. Dried fruits and maple syrup. Leather. Cayenne pepper. Lots of tannins. Over brewed tea. Orange liqueur – Cointreau! That oaky, strong tea note carries on into a drying finish.
Thoughts: The PX octave finish is a nice change in direction after the old grain but to be honest, I felt this was a step too far. It just felt a wee bit over-oaked to me – which is always a possibility with octave casks. To be fair, lots of people love that style of whisky, so I’m sure this will do fine whether I like it or not.
Price: Too woody for me but sure to have its fans and £70 is, once again, a very fair price for such a limited release.
“Dalgety” Tormore 2011 11-year-old Single Malt
Tormore Distillery is the youngest of the plants featured in this article. It was founded in 1958, with production commencing in 1960. For much of the distillery’s life it has produced spirit for use in the blended Scotch whiskies of Chivas Brothers. However, the future appears bright following the recent takeover by Elixir Distillers and the promise of a full single malt range to come.
This Lady of the Glen bottling was matured for 11 years in a refill sherry hogshead. It’s bottled at 50.5% and retails for £66.00.
Smell: Malty. Honey with some nutty sherry. Caramel. Biscuit. Fresh fruit. Salted peanuts and cashews. Hazelnut, too. Mixed peppers. Apple and lemon. Wood varnish.
Taste: Orange liqueur then caramel and some wintery spices. A subtle wave of sherry, then a touch of oak before a burst of fresher fruit notes as it moves into a light, toasted oak finish.
Thoughts: The relatively subtle cask interaction works well with the light-bodied spirit. That’s not to say it’s lightweight in flavour, however. There’s enough spice to warm the palate and suitable depth of flavour to make for a satisfying wee sip. Good, everyday Speyside fare.
Price: Enjoyable, light Speyside dram with some subtle sherry influence. Reasonably priced (given current market) at £66.
For more information on Lady of the Glen visit https://www.ladyoftheglen.com/