Reviews of interesting whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Lady of the Glen
Few could argue that independent bottlers bring a lot to the Scotch whisky scene. We whisky lovers would face significantly fewer options without them. The distilleries that predominantly produce spirit for blends would remain a mystery and the chance to taste unique twists on well-known malts would be lost to us. How lucky we are then, to have the likes of Lady of the Glen, providing us with such interesting single-cask and small-batch Scotch whiskies!
*Full disclosure: the whiskies reviewed 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.
Inchgower 2012 10-year-old
Inchgower is a Speyside distillery established in 1871. However, the distillery was only in operation for three decades before production ground to a halt in 1903. All remained silent until it was taken on by Buckie council in 1936 and transferred to Arthur Bell & Sons, two years later. Since then, Inchgower’s whisky has been a key component in the Bell’s blend. Today, both the distillery and owner, Bell’s, are part of Diageo.
This 10-year-old Inchgower was matured in a hogshead before being finished in a virgin oak cask. It’s bottled at 57%.
Smell: New oak with toffee, honey and vanilla. Wee bit of citrus. Lemon. Apple. Malt. Biscuit. A bit grassy. Light with a freshness to it. Lots of honey and fresh fruit. Fruitier with water.
Taste: Oaky with lots of woody spice. Like baking spices. There’s a baked apple note. Cinnamon too. A bit like apple pie. Ginger and cloves, too. Quite dry around the gums. Vanilla and caramel. With water, a savoury, slightly salty note came through.
Thoughts: The palate is bolder than the fresh nose prepares you for. There’s a decent texture, too. It isn’t too light-bodied. I usually go for bigger flavours but something about the nose on this dram really appealed to me and I was a bit disappointed when I found it so different in the mouth. A splash of water brought more of the fruit out but the arrival suffered a little as a result. That doesn’t make it a bad whisky though. Just didn’t quite hit the spot for me.
Price: Reasonably priced at £70.
Royal Brackla 2008 13-year-old
Royal Brackla is a Highland distillery within the Cawdor Estate, near Inverness. It was established in 1812 and granted a royal warrant by King William IV in 1833, the first Scotch whisky to be given such an honour. The royal warrant was renewed by Queen Victoria in 1838. In more recent times the distillery was one of four sold by Diageo to Bacardi. It now forms part of its Dewar’s portfolio.
This Lady of the Glen Brackla was matured in a barrel before being transferred to a first-fill oloroso sherry hogshead. It’s bottled at 56.2%.
Smell: Nutty sherry with dried fruits: raisins, sultanas, figs. Reminded me of Stollen – raisins, orange peel, almonds, cinnamon etc. Leather. Walnut. Chocolate. Varnished oak furniture. Red grapes. Chipotle.
Taste: Quite astringent on arrival. Cranberries. Moving into raisins and sultanas – all kinds of fruit cake notes. Star anise. Nutmeg. Clove. Black pepper. Cayenne. Cinnamon sticks.
Thoughts: Perfect for this time of year. The dry oloroso isn’t too drying and it balances with a nice sweetness and warming spice that stops short of being too hot. The sherry certainly leads the way but isn’t overly dominant – there’s some complexity here. It isn’t a one-dimensional sherry bomb. Water tamed the oak a little and brought out some more cranberries.
Price: At £86 it’s a little higher than the others featured in this piece but I think I’d still be pretty satisfied with a purchase. Lovely dram.
Glenturret 2012 10-year-old
Glenturret has a pretty good claim to being the oldest Scotch whisky distillery that’s still in operation. It was established by 1763, at least, with some estimates placing it considerably earlier. For many years the distillery was associated with The Famous Grouse blended Scotch but a change of ownership from Edrington to the Lalique Group has seen the brand come into its own as a single malt.
Lady of the Glen has presented us with a Ruadh Maor. In other words, a peated Glenturret. It was matured in a hogshead before being transferred to an ex-Amarone wine barrique for finishing. It’s bottled at 61.8%.
Smell: Oak tannins. Blackcurrant. Brambles. Plums. Cherry. Pepper. Dark chocolate. Charcoal. Bonfire smoke. Blackcurrant jam on burnt toast. Red chilli powder. Cinnamon sticks. Water released more of the smoke.
Taste: Again it’s quite oaky, with a big blast of peppery heat. Soon there are prunes and figs with lots of pepper and a big smoky finish. The wine is drying but not unpleasantly so. A bit spicy and congested before water was added but opened beautifully with help.
Thoughts: The nose preps you for a luxurious experience but it almost comes across as a little aggressive on the first sip (it is 61.8%, to be fair). Sometimes I’m put off a wine-finished whisky that’s very dry but in this instance, it’s like the wine sucks the moisture out of your mouth just in time for a cloud of peat smoke to blow through. It’s quite exhilarating and the smoke hangs about for some time afterwards.
Price: There have been some great peated Glenturrets around recently. Even the official bottlings are of good quality. This is another cracker and the Amarone finish offers something a bit different. Priced at £78. Fair pricing in the current market.
“Dalgety” An Islay 2009 12-year-old
The Isle of Islay is famous for its whisky. A reliance on peat as the only fuel source gave the island’s whiskies a unique smoky flavour. Today Islay’s whiskies are massively popular. The island’s distilleries are expanding to keep up with demand, whilst new distilleries are discussed on a seemingly weekly basis. Sadly that popularity has come at a great cost to the consumer. Islay whisky simply does not come cheap very often.
This Lady of the Glen bottling is a single cask from an undisclosed Islay distillery. It was matured in refill sherry hogsheads and bottled at 51.8%.
Smell: Honey and golden syrup. Barley malt. Caramel. Cayenne and smoked paprika. Rolling tobacco. The smell of candles just after you blow them out. Oak char. Coal fires.
Taste: Oloroso dried fruits with dark oak and charcoal. Wee bit salty. An undercurrent of smoke – thick and oily – and leaves an ashy finish. A bit like licking charred driftwood! Also pepper and salted caramel. A wee bit of cherry, too.
Thoughts: Not really a lot I can say here other than it offers everything I hoped it would. A nice balance between sherry cask and peated spirit with neither dominating.
Price: £70. Decent for a single cask Islay, these days.
For more on Lady of the Glen visit here: https://www.ladyoftheglen.com/
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