A few years ago, when we were trying to convince potential exhibitors to take a gamble on us for the (then) first Fife Whisky Festival, I met up with Gregor (Hannah - owner and founder of independent bottler, Lady of the Glen) to see if he would be interested in joining us.
At the time, it wasn't really an option. The company then was essentially just Gregor himself and, to be honest, it didn't really make any financial sense for him to be giving away whisky which was already bottled in such small batches. Especially when you bear in mind the reputation as a quality independent bottler that LOTG had already achieved in other parts of Europe leading to the vast majority of bottlings being sold as soon as they were released.
Since then, the company has enjoyed slow and steady growth and, with that, LOTG has enjoyed more of a domestic presence too. You'll undoubtedly have noticed Lady of the Glen not only at the last two Fife Whisky Festivals but also at numerous other whisky festivals across the country. The team has grown too (and I'm not talking about lockdown over-indulgence). Paul McKendrick has recently joined as its Brand Ambassador and Grace Fenwick completes the team as Marketing Manager. The company has also recently moved from Edinburgh to their own warehousing and bottling facilities in the Kingdom of Fife. This continued growth is testament to the team's hard work especially during such challenging times of late.
At a recent online tasting, hosted by Gregor, Paul and Grace, I was lucky enough to try the latest outturn of five bottlings. Each one was very different to the next and, in the order of the tasting, here are my thoughts:
Cask #1857 - bourbon cask - 183 bottles
Nose: initially there are notes of Juicy Fruit chewing gum followed by hints of damp wood mixed with Sherbet Dip Dab; notes of lemon drizzle cake emerge after a while followed by the smell of old paper notes in a leather wallet.
Palate: there's a slight oak spice at the start; gooseberries and grapefruit notes emerge followed by banana fritters; into the finish, this is quite dry with hints of chilli chocolate.
Overall: the nose is wonderful; a see-saw of fresh and lively notes on one side mixed with old and familiar on the other. The palate is slightly less complex than the nose suggests but this is a very enjoyable Jura - two words you don't often see together.
Cask #19130 - bourbon barrel - 171 bottles
Nose: icing sugar followed by furniture polish; there are lemon bonbons turning into notes of lemon sponge cake; notes of runny honey with hints of pencil sharpenings in the background throughout.
Palate: this is initially quite dry on the first few sips reminiscent of stewed redbush tea; after a while those lemon and honey notes come to the fore; there's lemon drizzle cake followed by glycerine, honey and lemon syrup; into the finish there's a subtle note of rosewater; adding water brings out milk chocolate / Turkish Delight notes.
Overall: I haven't had too many Caperdonichs to compare this to but I found this impossible to access without a fair few drops of water. For a 22 year old whisky, its strength is pretty impressive. For whisky from this lost distillery, 400 quid is probably the going rate - a bit too much for me, mind ;-)
Cask #36 - 7 years bourbon hogshead / 7 years rum cask - 218 bottles
Nose: initially (and probably most obviously) rum and raisin ice cream followed by the smell of strawberry Chewits; after a while there's a note of chocolate covered raisins with a slight hint of lebkuchen in the background; with a few drops of water, notes of tiramisu develop as well as hints of ginger.
Palate: this is quite dry initially; the tiramisu note comes through on the palate quite soon and this develops into coffee cream chocolates with hints of ginger and cloves.
Overall: enjoyable but this was more promising on the nose than on the palate.
Cask #300741 - bourbon cask / 18 month finish first-fill PX hogshead - 270 bottles
Nose: oily rags and burnt matches; this is followed with notes of bike tyre inner tubes; after a while, notes of red apple emerge together with liquorice; with a few drops of water, some of the 'dirtyness' dissipates.
Palate: dark ginger chocolate notes at the start; honey roast gammon with grilled pineapple; there's a hint of aniseed coming through which, after a while, reminds me of Covonia; there's a slight ashy note coming through into the finish.
Overall: none of the above tasting notes sound appealing in the slightest... but this is totally delicious.
Cask #19A - bourbon cask / 13 month finish first-fill amontillado barrel - 251 bottles
Nose: plenty of red apple notes to start becoming more toffee apple notes after a while; there's a hint of tinned clementines; there seems to be a slight smoke / char note which becomes more of a tobacco note after a while; there's a hint of old leather.
Palate: starts of as dark chocolate and develops into chocolate orange after a while; there's a slight hint of dates together with a hint of tobacco; this is ever so slightly bitter into the finish (but not in a bad way!).
Overall: this develops the longer it's in the glass and is one of those drams that needs a lot of time. It's not overly complex but very well balanced and (perhaps a bit too) easy to drink.
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