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It will come as no surprise to many that Scotland is not the only country that distils whisky…it’s just where it was perfected. Joking aside, the origins of alcohol of distillation can be traced back to ancient Egypt, although back then it had a medicinal purpose, the name alcohol is derived from the Arabic ‘Alkohol’. Supposedly the skills of distillation were brought to Europe from the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries.
There is evidence of distillation taking place in Ireland from the late 12th century during an invasion by Henry II when there were encounters with the drink. Distillation does not appear, officially, in Scotland until 1494; King James IV instructing Friar John Cor to make aquavitae (a term for Whisky) from eight bolls of malt. However, it has been suggested that the clan McDonald on Islay had knowledge of distillation much earlier than 1494. When Àine nì Chathàin (Agnes o Kane from Derry/Armagh) marries Aonghas Òg de Yle, of the clan McDonald on Islay, Àine brings from Ulster the MacBeatha family (known in Scotland as Beaton), who become doctors for some major Scottish families and in their possession was the knowledge of distillation for the use as a surgical spirit.
Regardless of who established distillation first, in the 19th century, Ireland’s whiskey dominated the market with around 50 distilleries in the mid-nineteenth century; now there are 18 Irish distilleries while Scotland has over 120. Prohibition swept through Europe and the USA and the partitioning of Ireland deprived Irish distilleries of the British Empire’s market, resulting in the decimation of Ireland’s whiskey industry.
Irish whiskey is enjoying growth again and last year I had the pleasure of visiting a few distilleries, Teelings and Great Northern (a juggernaut of a distillery producing an incredible range of great spirit). In light of this, it felt worthwhile to note the key differences that exist between Irish whiskey and Scottish whisky.
Irish whiskey is spelt differently, this is because in the 19th century Dublin distillers did not want to be associated with the poorer spirit that was being produced in Ireland, so they started inserting an ‘e’ to differentiate the brand.
Where Scotch whisky produces Malt and Grain whisky, Ireland produces this and Irish Pot Still, which is made from malted and un-malted barley.
Image of three pot stills at Teeling distillery
Ireland is synonymous for Triple distillation, using a wash still, low wine still and spirit still while in Scotland most distilleries use double distillation which means only a wash still and spirit still are utilized. Triple distillation produces a lighter spirit by removing low volatility compounds present in heavier spirits such as Scotch, the spirit can be 30% higher in ABV than that of Scotch and the character can be smoother too. However, Irish pot stills are much larger than Scottish stills leading to limited copper contact resulting in a spirit with more sulphur and meaty flavours – the extra distillation and a purifier will work to reduce these undesirable flavours but in contrast Scotch’s smaller stills enjoy greater ‘reflux’ which provides more desirable flavours associated with copper contact and the removal of undesirable flavours. Ultimately, this can come down to taste preference because by increasing the amount of distillation/rectification and trying to make ABV as high as possible the distillers simultaneously reduce the volatile congeners/flavour compounds and character. The production of a lighter spirit, through Triple distillation, aspires to remove the less volatile flavours from the spirit and so there are sweeter more fragrant notes in the finished new spirit.
Irish whiskey sources its barley only from Ireland and they can use un-malted barley which costs less than malted barley and provides a different flavour profile.
Auchentoshan in Scotland has used Triple distillation and Cooley Distillery in Ireland uses Double Distillation so there are exceptions to the common assumption. Cooley also offers peated malt which is contrary to the Irish typical spirit character of being light and containing no peat.
We’re so excited to announce that our next outrun will be the biggest to date yielding around 2000 bottles from 12 casks. This is a unique offering and is a break from our tradition of releasing 4 casks a quarter.
In fitting with our goals of whisky education, the releases will offer our customers an insight into the different flavours that come from maturing in tawny and ruby port, as well as Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
The importance of cask selection
Over the past 2 years, Gregor has visited bodegas in Europe to source quality oak for the further maturation of Lady of the Glen’s portfolio of whisky. The empty casks Gregor selected all hail from one family-owned bodega near Porto in Portugal. We place the utmost importance on understanding the provenance of every cask we source for the maturation process.
Last year we re-racked a parcel of stock in these casks, and now we are ready to release - much sooner than originally anticipated. Leaving the spirit much longer in these first-fill casks may result in the wood overpowering the whisky.
Three first-fill cask varieties – a hint of what’s to comeSpirit matured in the tawny port casks will tend to exhibit plenty of caramel, toffee and nut flavours.
We will expect to experience notes of red berry fruits from ruby port batch release.
Finally, the releases matured in Pedro Ximenez casks will take on the characteristics of this high-quality sherry invoking intense sweetness, and notes of chocolate, coffee, liquorice and spices.
We used Pedro Ximenez for the last batch of octaves we released. They were rich with flavours of cloves and cinnamon, displaying a meatiness in weight and texture. We would very much expect the same again as the octaves are from the exact same source.
The single malts
The single malts used in our next outrun all hail from excellent Speyside distilleries. We originally matured them in a mix of first-fill and bourbon hogsheads. The process of selecting which single malt should be used in each of the new casks was guided by a thesis Gregor read at Heriot-Watt. The thesis categorised distilleries by aroma characteristics such as full, medium, or light-bodied, as well as the typical flavour notes of the distillery’s releases. This, of course, was in addition to sampling the stock.
The new releases
Auchroisk Vintage 2007 - Hogshead – first-fill PX
Blair Atholl Vintage 2010 - Hogshead – first-fill PX
Dailuaine Vintage 2008 - Hogshead – first-fill PX
Glenlossie Vintage 2010 - Hogshead - ex Tawny Port
Glenlossie Vintage 2010 - Hogshead - ex Ruby Port
Glenlossie Vintage 2010 - Hogshead - ex Ruby Port
Inchgower Vintage 2008 - Hogshead – first-fill PX
Glen Elgin Vintage 2008- Hogshead – ex Tawny Port
The first batch of octaves was released at the start of 2019, resulting in 50 bottles from each. The octaves were refilled shortly after bottling with another batch. This will be the last batch from these casks as there is no more spirit from the parent casks. This batch should be less intense.
Deanston 18 YO finished in PX Octave
Tamdhu 11 YO finished in PX Octave
Linkwood 12 YO finished in PX Octave
Glen Moray 10 YO finished in PX Octave
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We were delighted to attend the National Whisky Festival in Glasgow last month. As a relatively new independent bottler it was great to finally be showing Lady of the Glen to the UK. It was only the second UK festival we've attended and we were delighted to meet so many people as passionate about whisky as we are. We were obviously a hit, as it was a sell out!
Make sure you catch us on our next outing at the Fife Whisky Festival from 8-10 March in Cupar. Book tickets here.
Here's what to expect:
12yo Linkwood 87/2006, 60.2?V, Bourbon Hogshead - / RRP £89.99
11yo Tamdhu 6833/2007, 61.6?V Bourbon Hogshead - / RRP £97.25
12yo Linkwood 87A/2006, 58.5?V, Pedro Ximenez Octave - / RRP £116.51
2006 11YO Tullibardine, first fill Bourbon barrel #617, 59.3?V, / RRP £90.00
2009 8YO Ardmore, first fill bourbon barrel #2615b, 59.6?V / RRP £75.00
2002 14YO Secret Islay, Olorosso Sherry Butt #2905, 56.20?V, / RRP £125.00
If you'd like more information of any of our bottles, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.
12yo Linkwood 87/2006, 60.2?V, Bourbon Hogshead [12 bottles] @ £89.99
T)Heather honey, sponge and custard. Bottle yield 151
11yo Tamdhu 6833/2007, 61.6?V Bourbon Hogshead [11 bottles] @ £97.25
T)Vanilla ice cream, toffee and baked bread. Bottle yield 159
18yo Deanston 1858/2000 Bourbon Hogshead [SOLD OUT]. £132
T) crème caramel, runny honey and double cream. Bottle yield 39
10yo Glen Moray 5585A/2008 Bourbon Hogshead [SOLD OUT] £59.00
T) Apricot marmalade, lemon meringues and drizzly honey. Bottle Yield 26
An Octave is a 50 litre small cask that provides an intense wood and spirit marriage. The spirit for the releases were taken from the bourbon casks
10yo Glen Moray 5585A/2008, 54.8?V, Pedro Ximenez Octave [11 bottles] @ £109.49
T)Christmas cake, cloves and sweet cream. Bottle yield - 62
18yo Deanston 1858A/2000, 54.7?V Pedro Ximenez Octave [9 bottles] @ £182.96
T) Cloves, orange peel and cinnamon bun. Bottle yield – 60
12yo Linkwood 87A/2006, 58.5?V, Pedro Ximenez Octave [13 bottles] @£116.51
T) Smoky, sweet brandy and meaty. Bottle yield - 64
11yo Tamdhu 6833A/2007, 60?V Pedro Ximenez Octave [1 bottle] £138.00
T)Cloves, tangerine and chi tea. Bottle yield - 59
This will be our first year showcasing of Lady of the Glen at the National Whisky Festival, so with that in mind we have a number of releases and left-over releases which will be available for sampling at this festival.
Bourbon Cask Releases
Sherry Cask Releases
We have some stock that is only available for sampling on the day. These are sold out releases from historic outruns. These are available on request and will not be on the table.
We look forward to seeing you on the day!