Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Lady of the Glen
Lady of the Glen is an independent bottler of Scotch whiskies, owned by Hannah Whisky Merchants. They bottle Scotch whiskies produced at an array of distilleries all over Scotland. In this feature, I’ll be tasting my way through some samples from their Winter 2022 range.
*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.
Lady of the Glen Macduff 2009 13-year-old
This is a single malt produced at Macduff distillery in the northeast of Scotland. It was distilled on 20th May 2009 and bottled on 19th October 2022. It spent a total of 13 years in a refill hogshead before being bottled at 57.6% abv.
Smell: Malty with some subtle oak notes. Vanilla. Lemon cream biscuits. Toffee. Baking spices. Black pepper. It comes across as quite a robust nose. Almost a little meatiness at the base.
Taste: Honey and digestive biscuits. Breakfast cereals. Then citrus. Orange and lemon. Peppery spice towards the back of the tongue. Soft, oaky finish. Water softens it a little and brings more of the citrus fruits to the fore. Peach and apricot. Has some real body to it.
Thoughts: This dram perfectly demonstrates that you can get very, very good results without doing anything fussy or complicated. Good spirit + good cask + time = good whisky. It really is as simple as that. With regard to actually drinking it, there isn’t really anything unusual going on and many of the flavours could be found in hundreds of other drams but nevertheless, everything seems to sit together well. The character of the barley is identifiable, without any hint of the spirit being immature and it balances well with the subtlety of the refill oak. Excellent in its simplicity.
Price: £74 won’t be affordable for everyone but in the current market it isn’t excessive for a 13-year-old single cask single malt. Especially one of such quality.
Lady of the Glen Balmenach 2011 10-year-old
Balmenach is an old Speyside distillery owned by Inver House Distillers. This bottling is the first Lady of the Glen release from a program of re-charred ex-sherry casks. It was distilled on 2nd December 2011 and bottled on 11th October 2022 at 56.3%.
Smell: Autumnal. Conkers and dry leaves on a forest floor. There’s even a subtle wee earthy note that made me think of mushrooms. Walnuts and new leather. Wintery spices. Cinnamon sticks. Orange peel. Dried fruits. Dark chocolate. Barbecue coals.
Taste: A big sherry arrival slowly morphs into some drying oak tannins and leaves an intense woody finish. Dried fruits, runny honey, golden syrup, charcoal. Gently leaning towards the sulphury end of sherry casks but in no way unpleasant. Over time some red apples emerge alongside a lovely cherry note.
Thoughts: If this is representative of Lady of the Glen’s new re-charred sherry cask program, we could be in for some very special drams over the coming months. Such a project could so easily go over the top but on this evidence, they’ve nailed it. The sherry influence leads the way wonderfully, without blanketing the whole experience and there’s a wee touch of the struck match but it shouldn’t be enough to put people off. On paper, I was sceptical of this dram, fearing that it would be overoaked. It isn’t. Consider me won over. Great stuff.
Price: £72. I’d have no problem whatsoever paying that price for this whisky. It’s been a while since I enjoyed a sample quite so much.
Lady of the Glen Auchentoshan 2007 14-year-old
Auchentoshan is a lowland distillery famed for its preference for triple distillation. It’s rare to see independently bottled Auchentoshan so this cask is quite a capture by Lady of the Glen. The whisky was matured in a hogshead for 14 years and 11 months before being bottled at 54.9%.
Smell: A bit like the Macduff from earlier, the character of the barley is to the fore. Vanilla. Honey. Sponge cake. Creme brulee. Custard tarts. Double cream. Lemon. Green apples and pears.
Taste: Honeyed breakfast cereals. Hobnob biscuits. Custard Creams. Honey and lemon. Caramel. Malty, biscuity finish with peppery spice.
Thoughts: Reminded me of the discontinued Auchentoshan Valinch, especially on the nose, albeit with more maturity. The Auchentoshan drams I’ve had over the last few years have either been oak-dominated like the Three Wood or disappointingly young like the American Oak. This is neither of those things. 14 is a decent age and the refill cask allows the spirit’s character to come through. That, however, is also something of a problem because I’ve never been all that convinced that there’s much personality to Auchentoshan. Triple distillation tends to concentrate lighter flavours but as a result, it must also be possible to lose some complexity and bass notes in the process. This dram feels a little bit like that, there are some nice light fruits and plenty of creamy grain notes but it rather stops there. Actually reminds me of a 20+ single grain. Perfectly pleasant to sip on but not particularly exciting.
Price: £102. I enjoyed sipping on my sample but not enough to come anywhere near the asking price.
For more on Lady of the Glen visit https://www.ladyoftheglen.com/