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The Blog page 5

Best Scottish Spirit Award

Oct 18th, 10:05 AM

By Gregor Hannah, founder of Lady of the Glen

I was delighted that Lady of the Glen was named ‘Best Scottish Spirit’ at the recent Scotsman Food and Drink Awards 2019. The ceremony, held at Brewhemia in Edinburgh, celebrated the success of Scotland’s vibrant food and drink scene by producers across the country.

Lee MacGregor and Isabella McNamara, of Mitchel MacGregor Public Relations, accepted the award on my behalf as I was in New York. Winning this award was initially met with muted surprise as I had just checked into my hotel after a long-haul flight and lengthy transfer, however, the next day when I had a chance to take it in, I was over the moon.

I would like to thank Scotland’s distillers and the cask makers from Europe and the US who produce the exceptional stock that I use to create my products. I acquire rare casks from Scotland’s best distilleries to mature and release under the brand. I do not distil Scotch, I just manage it. I do not build casks, I just select them, so without their craftsmanship, I couldn’t produce the releases that have put Lady of the Glen in a position to win awards. 

Every Lady of the Glen release is bottled at cask strength, with no colourings or chill filtering, keeping the process as natural as possible, paying respect to the distiller’s spirit craftsmanship. Careful cask management is key and we only release casks when they are ready, offering bottles of exceptional flavour that are unique, drinkable, and collectable. Often, casks of the same spirit will be finished in different ways to create different releases from the same source. This makes Lady of the Glen whisky totally unique. To ensure quality, I taste-test all the whisky and will only bottle it if I am 100% happy with the outcome.

My plan is to build and develop relationships with bodegas in Portugal, France and Spain amongst others in Europe in the hope that the good work continues and I can source the exceptional casks that make Lady of the Glen so special. I seek out these casks based on their quality, rarity, flavour and flavour potential. Each cask has its own spirit and story to tell. To all those distillers in Scotland, all I can say is thank you, you’re the best at what you do and I’ll always be in your debt.

I’d like to thank the judges and panel at The Scotsman Food and Drink for selecting Lady of the Glen. Lee and Isabella who have helped with my strategy and to polish Lady of the Glen into a better brand.

The Prince’s Trust and specifically Richard Gibson who helped me to develop my business plan when I first started and to get my initial application for funding support.

My distributors and customers who buy the stock and who have proved so loyal and generous with their feedback. I will continue to source the best casks available and endeavour to release casks that you continue to enjoy.

I’m delighted that the processes we have in place at Lady of the Glen to create unique, rare single cask, single malt whisky has been recognised with this best Scottish Spirit Award. 

Cask Selection In France

Sep 20th, 08:19 AM

Sourcing casks is an important part of my role as an independent bottler. By judging the spirit I have and assessing it based on its body, sweetness and character I’ll decide what casks I feel will either enhance the flavour traits, provide greater balance or take the spirit into a different flavour profile which I find more desirable. 

Our previous outruns have seen us using casks sourced from a Bodega in Portugal. This time, my search for new casks took me to France where I enjoyed 30-degree weather in the lovely surroundings of Bordeaux. Set within a context of 17th-century architecture, Bordeaux is a beautiful city located on the banks of Garonne. The city is renowned as the hub for wines and fortified spirit, which is produced in the region and was historically exported worldwide from Bordeaux’s dockside. Nowadays, the majority of these food and drinks are taken much further along the Garonne to be exported directly. It was through Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry II of England that the export of wine transformed Bordeaux into an export hub since then the US is now the largest market for Bordeaux wine.

As a hub, Bordeaux has access to a vast array of incredible sweet wines, fortified wines not just from Bordeaux in France but right across Europe. It was with that in mind that I visited a barrel warehouse near Cognac to learn more about the casks that I will be sourcing for Lady of the Glen. 

Very much like a sweet shop, the warehouse was filled with an array of incredible casks which contained everything from vintage Armagnac to varieties of casks used for the full maturation of Calvados, Cognac, Moscatel and fortified sweet wines from various Mediterranean islands. Nosing all these casks was incredible and speaking with the owners about the flavours I was looking for based on the spirit that I have was great fun as this is the creative part of this process where we can try to anticipate what flavours we can produce. It’s not an exact science but the whole point of this process is to source authentic casks to create unique flavours and make the whisky I have the best it can possibly be. 

Meeting the owners of a bodega or barrel warehouse is crucial to the way I do business now. I like to have a degree of familiarity with who I’m dealing with and I like them to buy into what I’m trying to achieve so they can provide genuine guidance or instruction as to how the cask should be used. It is also essential I visit the warehouse to make sure the casks are good because they are expensive and it will be years before I see the final results.

The final results of the acquisitions made from this trip will not be seen for at least 3 years although I’ll monitor the casks and send samples to the warehouse to ensure everyone is aware of how the casks are performing each year.

To see all the whiskies in our latest outrun, check out our online shop. The latest outrun includes the following bottles:

Caol Ila - Bourbon cask matured for 8 years and finished in an Amarone wine cask from Veneta Botti, Veneto. Tasting notes revealed, Mossy, pineapple and brown sugar.

Strathmill - Matured in a Bourbon cask for 11 years and finished in an ex-Tawny Port cask from Tanoaria Josafer, Portugal. Tasting notes revealed, crème caramel, ginger and walnut.

GlenallachieMatured in a Bourbon cask for 13 years and finished in a Marsala wine cask from Marsal Botti in Siciliy. Tasting notes Stewed apricot, vanilla and butter.

2005 Blair Athol with a Pedro Ximenez Octave finish. This first-fill octave contained Blair Athol for over 3 months so the cask character has been highly influential, the strong PX influence provides flavours such as cloves, star anise and ginger.

QTR 3 Outrun

Sep 12th, 08:14 AM

In QTR 3 Gregor bottled 8 casks to produce 1,699 bottles. Perhaps what makes this outrun particularly special are the wine casks which were sourced last year directly from vineyards in Italy, whereas the Port and Sherry releases are from our go-to bodega in Portugal. 

Caol Ila - Bourbon cask matured for 8 years and finished in an Amarone wine cask from Veneta Botti, Veneto. Tasting notes revealed, Mossy, pineapple and brown sugar

Amarone wine is a rich Italian wine produced in Northern Italy. Gregor managed to get these casks from Veneta Botti in Veneto. He chose this wine because of its rich and full-bodied flavour which he felt would work well with a spirit that is similarly full-bodied like Caol Ila. 

At our launch tasting, this was by far the most popular dram so I’m very happy with the result.

Strathmill - Matured in a Bourbon cask for 11 years and finished in an ex-Tawny Port cask from Tanoaria Josafer, Portugal. Tasting notes revealed, crème caramel, ginger and walnut.

The Strathmill follows a similar style to the incredibly popular Glenlossie and Glen Elgin Port finishes that sold out so quickly in the last outrun. These casks were all re-racked at roughly the same time and with sister ex-Tawny Port casks.

Glenallachie, matured in a Bourbon cask for 13 years and finished in a Marsala wine cask from Marsal Botti in Siciliy. Tasting notes Stewed apricot, vanilla and butter.

Sweet white wines finishes had always intrigued Gregor and it was a goal of his to produce a classic example of this. Marsala wine is produced in Sicily and is typically reserved for cooking but it produces characteristics of apricot, vanilla, brown sugar and tobacco. Getting the parcel of casks of out Sicily was a nightmare but the results were far from it! At the launch tasting this whisky was the second most popular and despite its strong ABV, 65?V, it didn’t show much, if any, of the signs of this strength and was described as a pre-dinner Whisky. 

Blair Athol - Two Pedro Ximenez Octave finishes – A 2005 Blair Athol and 2010 Blair Athol. These first-fill octaves contained Blair Athol for over 3 months so the cask character has been highly influential, particularly for the 2010 release.

Gregor’s use of PX Octaves continues with these two releases. Similar in style to the batch 1 releases for Glen Moray, Deanston, Linkwood and Tamdhu released at the beginning of the year; illustrating strong PX influence with flavours such as cloves, star anise and ginger. The PX releases are not for the faint-hearted as they are as heavily sherried as it can get and the 50 litre Octave only yields about 50 bottles. However, in this instance, we actually only got 40 bottles of the Blair Athol 2010, which as a result has already been allocated and is sold out.

In addition to these releases we have a few sold-out releases and exclusive releases that will not be available in the UK, these include a 1999 Glendullan Hogshead, 1992 Linkwood Hogshead and 1991 Cambus Sherry Butt. Should you have specific interest in any of these releases please email and he can put you in touch with the relevant distributor.

We are delighted to launch our miniatures sets in this quarter.

Each miniature sets includes 5 drams of single cask Whisky at 5cl measures. Each box contains a random assortment of drams which at the moment will be the below but this will change going forward. The price for the set will be £29.00 which includes delivery.

4yo Strathmill 802139A/2014

7yo Strathmill 805875A/201

5yo Glen Elgin 800982A/2014

5yo Blair Athol 303402A/2014

5yo Linkwood 311288A/2014

The purpose of the sets is to showcase single Cask whisky and to give people the opportunity to try Lady of the Glen whisky. For the complete range of all our whiskies, check out our online shop.

Gregor's Guide To Finishing

Aug 25th, 09:43 AM

Going forward Lady of the Glen will be releasing many whiskies that are finished. Admittedly, this is not innovative by any stretch as finishing has taken place within the industry for many years. However, Scotch itself is a wonderfully diverse product, with different flavours appearing within different regions, from over 130 different distilleries that produce different vintages of whisky in uniquely different casks. There is so much variety in Scotch compared to other spirits and the industry could do better to celebrate this diversity compared to our competitor spirit categories. 

My goal is for Lady of the Glen to be releasing the finest quality whisky consistently but with a view to release diverse flavours from authentic cask sources. I want to produce whisky for drinking which is not standard. Every cask is unique and has a story and by building relationships with the bodegas in Europe, I’ll be able to release casks that have a traceable and high-quality authenticity.

Finishing is the approach of re-racking a cask into another cask, which means pouring the contents of one cask into another. The aim of the process is to allow the spirit to take on the flavour characteristics of a different cask from that which the spirit was originally matured in. Lady of the Glen is looking to conduct long term finishing projects so that each cask of spirit is getting adequate exposure to the oak although this will be dependent on the cask size and type of spirit/wine that the cask previously contained.

Around 90% of the whisky industry is matured in Bourbon hogsheads and yet Sherry single malt releases tend to be the most popular. The solution to this is to re-rack a bourbon cask into a Sherry cask in order to let the spirit absorb some of that Sherry flavour and colour from the oak. However, finishing has developed a bad reputation because it has been used to mask poor flavour notes by covering them up with the more intense flavours from the re-racked cask and it is generally looked down up by parts of the industry because it can be construed as passing off a whisky as something that it’s not i.e. a whisky matured in a bourbon cask for 12 years then re-racked into a Sherry cask for a very short time will be identified as a Sherry release but have very little of a sherry matured whisky characteristics. 

The SWA places a number of restrictions on the process, for instance, a re-racked cask can no longer be called ‘a single cask’ that is despite the re-racked cask being a single cask and no vatting or blending of other casks at any stage. The finished whisky must still possess the character and traits of a whisky. The re-racked cask must also have a history of being used in the Scotch whisky industry.

The SWA’s strict requirements ensure whisky from Scotland is always of high quality. The main criteria are that:

  • Whisky must be matured for at least three years to be called whisky. 
  • Whisky can only be made from water, malted barley and yeast. There can be no additives aside from caramel colouring and water.
  • Whisky must be bottled above 40?V and distilled at a strength no higher than 94.8?V.
  • The cask must be made from oak.
  • All maturation must take place in Scotland and the production of materials must take place in Scotland. The SWA also specifically require all mashing of the cereals, conversion into a fermentable substrate, fermentation and distillation to take place at the same distillery. Note, that the sourcing of barley and malt is not mentioned and this because barley has been imported and most distilleries buy in their malt from a malster in Scotland. To identify distilleries that conduct their own malting, you should search for distilleries that have floor maltings and Tom Bruce-Gardyne’s article on Floor Maltings at is also an interesting read.
  • A recent change in the regulations has been what the oak cask previously contained. The reason Scotch is matured in Bourbon, Sherry and Port Casks is that there is ‘traditional evidence’ of this taking place. In order for a distillery to use a new or different cask that has previously contained something like Tequila, they had to show evidence of this having taken place in the past and that it was a ‘traditional’ method. Despite there being evidence from distilleries and warehouses maturing whisky in every type of oak for the maturation of everything from ginger beer to Sherry, the Scotch whisky industry limited itself. However, as of May this has changed, Scotch can now be matured in oak casks that have been used to mature wine (still or fortified) and/or beer/ale and/or spirits with the exception spirits produced from stone fruits and wine/spirits/beers where flavourings have been added. 

Through this Lady of the Glen aspires to be a reliable source of authentic Scotch providing quality examples of European oak married with the finest in Scottish distillate.

Our releases include:

Glenlossie Vintage 2010 with Tawny Port finish

Glen Elgin Vintage 2008 ex-Tawny Port cask finish

Glenlossie Vintage 2010 with ex-Ruby Port finish

Deanston Vintage 2000 with PX finish batch 2

Tamdhu Vintage 2007 with PX finish batch 2

Glen Moray Bourbon Barrel with PX Sherry octave finish batch 2

Linkwood Vintage 2006 PX finish batch 2

To find out more about all the Lady of Glen whiskies check out our online shop.

Why Does An Independent Whisky Bottler Travel To Portugal?

Aug 10th, 10:34 AM

The answer - to personally select the very best casks to finish the rare spirit I source in Scotland.

For over a year now I have sourced casks from the Josafer bodega near Porto. They provide the Pedro Ximenez (PX) Octaves that have been sold and some of the Tawny and Ruby Port releases too.

I asked the bodega if they could share a bit more information about the PX sherry variety and explain why it is so special.

Pedro Ximénez wine is obtained from grapes of the same name which then undergoes a traditional process known as "sunning", whereby the fruit turns to raisins. 

The region where the Protected Designation of Origin "Jerez-Xérès-Sherry" and "Manzanilla - Sanlúcar de Barrameda" wines are produced is located in the southernmost area of the Iberian Peninsula. Only the vines of the Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Trebujena, Chipiona, Rota, Puerto Real, Chiclana de la Frontera, and Lebrija planted on land deemed suitable by the industry's "Consejo Regulador" are permitted to grow grapes for production of "Jerez" and "Manzanilla" wines. This region is divided among 3,511 vineyards owned by 2,720 proprietors. 

Musts are obtained after pressing which have an extraordinarily high concentration of sugars and a certain degree of colouring, whose fermentation is stopped by adding wine alcohol. Ageing is exclusively oxidative in nature, facilitating a progressive aromatic concentration and increasing complexity, though always ensuring not to lose the fresh, fruity characteristics of the grape variety. A dark, ebony coloured wine with pronounced tearing and a thickness to the eye. In the nose its bouquet is extremely rich with predominantly sweet notes of dried fruits such as raisins, figs and dates, accompanied by the aromas of honey, grape syrup, jam and candied fruit, at the same time reminiscent of toasted coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa and liquorice. Velvety and syrupy in the mouth and yet with enough acidity to mitigate the extreme sweetness and warmth of the alcohol leading to a lingering, tasty finish.

The PX variety tends to be the most expensive compared to Oloroso, Fino and Amontillado.

Lady of the Glen has produced the second batch of PX finishes:





These are batch 2 and the Octaves are on their second fill so the intensity of flavour is more balanced compared to batch 1. Our octaves are small, around 50-litre casks which yield about 60 bottles per release. The smaller casks allow for a more intense maturation between the spirit and the oak due to the greater oak spirit contact so our whisky is usually ready after 3 months although the spirit has been previously matured in Bourbon casks for a much longer time.

To view our full range of whiskies, check out our online shop.

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