According to Gregor Hannah, founder of new independent, single cask whisky bottler Lady of the Glen, the key attributes of his whisky products are about flavour, cask strength and quality.
Gregor is a new entrant to the whisky market, having worked to set up his whisky company based in Fife since 2009.
But his passion and interest in whisky started many years before, founded on the times spent with his father – an army piper who traveled the world with the Black Watch Pipe Band.
“Every time he came home he would sit down in his chair, talk to his dogs and pour himself a Glemorangie and Irn Bur. It sounds blasphemous but that’s what he did.
“After he left the army he would tell me all about his varied experiences – bombs and shots in Ireland, drunken fist fights in Germany, getting sun stroke in Japan…it was a time for us to bond and laugh,” recalls Gregor.
Over the years his father’s whisky collection grew with bottles from around the globe. When Gregor turned 18, his father began to share.
“My father said I could open any bottle from his collection. Initially I chose an Indian bottle at 100% proof, [to which he said]: ‘Any bottle but that one.’ Now at every milestone we will have a toast together and thankfully there is no Irn Bru in sight,” says Gregor, adding the next big toast will be at his wedding this September.
His exposure to whisky over the years led him to take an interest in starting up his own single cask bottling company after leaving university. The decision to focus on this category was bred from a belief that there is a gap in the market for rarer, single cask bottlings at affordable prices.
“I felt at this stage it was important to keep the product close to its Scottish roots. To be honest Lady of the Glen is all about flavour, cask strength and quality,” he adds.
His main focus when he set out a business plan was on making everything perfect – a fact which meant the project has taken nearly three years to get off the ground.
“First I had to save up my pennies, find a first class designer and obtain high quality whisky casks from the correct supply chains. I am adamant that I will not rush for anyone; slow and steady wins the race and I will always strive to provide the best product possible,” he explains.
The hard work has led to him launching a 24-year old Invergordon single cask whisky (priced at £62.50) and a 14-year old Benrinnes (priced at £65.22). The label has been designed by a Scottish designer named John Hamlin. Reviews on both whiskies will be coming to this site shortly.
Gregor – who is also a bagpiper, along with his fiancée Dawn – says the main goal for the time being is in getting the product out into the public space but not by moving ahead too quickly with the brand.
“Our goal at the moment is to grow and expand our range slowly. A quality product should never be hurried simply for profit.
“However, that’s not to say we don’t have big ambitions. I want to one day export abroad but I will not go down the route of only having my whisky available abroad. At this stage I just want people to try my whisky and enjoy it with loved ones so that hopefully they can recommend the brand to a friend.”
There will be further releases in the coming months but it is a topic that Gregor is currently mum on.
And so, for someone with a long-standing history with whisky, which is his favourite?
“My granddad would say, ‘There is no such thing as a bad whisky, only some are a bit weaker than others.’ I wish I could agree with him but I’ve tasted some howlers in my time.
“For me, an excellent Invergordon embodies what Lady of the Glen is all about: it is sweet, feminine and the bursts of vanilla continue to surprise the more you taste it. It grows and evolves on the palate and is simply a joy to drink.”
And while he clearly has no aim to rush things, he does note his desire to give something to the the next generation.
“Hopefully one day any future children that I have will look at my cabinet the same way I used to look at my dad’s and I can pass this business on to them,” he concludes.
For more information on Lady of the Glen, visit: www.ladyoftheglen.com