In the Beginning
In late 2012 I started Lady of the Glen Whisky. My vision was to create a luxury Whisky brand that was contemporary and high quality; and I determinedly set about carefully selecting casks for release and creating a visually attractive Scottish brand to meet this vision.
I was proud of my first two releases, they set a high benchmark for quality as desired and it was important to come on to the market with something resembling a range. These first two were single malt Benrinnes and a single grain Invergordon. Interestingly these two releases put together would have actually made a nice blend but blends are not our business! We choose to sell single malt for a multitude of reasons, namely the quality of the Scottish single malt industry, but also for more practical reasons in that attempting to get the same casks and ingredients is notoriously difficult for a small business.
From the very start, I was focussed on selling rare high quality casks from distilleries which had either closed or only released a limited of casks to provide a unique product. As an example of this, among our seven releases I have sold Whisky from the Caperdonich and Littlemill distilleries, both of which are both closed.
Selling at cask strength meant I would get fewer bottles from each cask but the Whisky buyer would be able to choose how much water they wanted to add to their dram so it offered the customer empowering choice. I didn’t want to fiddle about with the aesthetics of the Whisky for purely commercial reasons so I chose to avoid chill filtering and I felt that adopting a single cask approach thereby avoiding finishes would present the buyer with the most natural Whisky too.
Early releases of Lady of the Glen were individually numbered and this enhanced the limited edition nature of the bottles as you could actually have a totally unique numbered bottle and each bottle was presented in a unique bespoke floral pouch – the pouches and their design were created especially for Lady of the Glen by BespokeAtailer – a very talented fabric design company located in Glasgow.
Before the beginning
Whisky has always been of tremendous interest to me because of my Dad. He was a talented piper in the Black Watch and was regularly given bottles of Whisky as gifts; his whisky cabinet would gleam with gold and ruby bottles. Over time I developed a palate for it and I decided I wanted to be part of the industry but on my own terms.
I love the diverse range of whisky which makes it a truly beautiful spirit to be enjoyed by any palette.; There is so much that Whisky contributes to Scotland and offers to the world> In Scotland we see many economic benefits, such as investment in distilleries for jobs. It is also key in attracting tourists to our beautiful country and, more recently, we are seeing research in Whisky as a potential fuel! In the meantime, the rest of the world gets a truly celebratory drink which boasts authenticity, a romantic culture and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the unique scents and flavours of each and every dram.
After the beginning
Despite having a quality product, for Lady of the Glen, it was initially difficult to get noticed. However, by appearing on reputable Whisky blogs like Miss Whisky and the Edinburgh Whisky blog we obtained more of a presence and we started exporting soon after. Exporting Whisky can be a bit of poisoned chalice; on the one hand you get to increase sales and share your whisky with the world, but on the other you lose touch with customers. This led me to the decision that the design of the bottles needed to be amended to focus more on the Whisky and the customers. We used modern engraving techniques to make our bottles even more contemporary and unique especially in the Independent bottling market.
The website was improved to encourage direct web sales, providing fresh content via frequent blogs covering topics such as how whisky is made, the history of the word Whisky and details relating to our releases, successes and upcoming events. We also have a page that has our previous releases which are no longer available. This page is of particular interest to me because not only does it show how far we have come but every cask has a story; I remember the Littlemill selling out in 31 days and I recall the Invergordon being described as ‘like a big Vanilla pudding’ when we first reviewed the sample.
On the horizon there is now a short supply of casks because of the huge demand and the growing monopoly ownership over the distilleries. As a result rare and limited edition bottles are becoming much more valuable and lucrative with auctioneers and enterprises setup specifically for this purpose.
Regardless of the pressures I am proud that I have managed to continue to release a high quality selection of Limited Edition Whisky and in the coming months I will add to my current range of Ben Nevis and Secret Speyside Single Malts; a really special 10 bottle only release of 21 year old Sherry Cask Bowmore and a luxury 250 bottle release of 21 Year old Borubon Cask Glen Garioch. I hope you get the opportunity to purchase some.