As Convenor, I have been privileged and lucky enough to have now received a taster of the new whisky from the borders called Steel Bonnets. It is named after the head wear our ancestors, as reivers, once used. It was sent directly from the distillery for my attention and tasting and I was therefore asked by some of our members regarding my opinion now now that I’ve tasted it. I had written about it when it was first launched but had not had the opportunity of tasting it at the time.
The Distillery’s Press Release
Hailing from the Lakes Distillery, one of the few English distilleries around, Steel Bonnets is an impressive malt. The Brand; The Lakes Distillery, situated in, you guessed it, the Lake District, is a relatively new distillery, having only been opened in 2014. They were founded by Paul Currie, who is also the founder of the Isle of Arran Distillery, so he knows what he’s doing. The brand has become well known for their innovation and imagination, having released The One, a blend made up of malts from across all parts of the British Isles. As well as making Whisky, they also produce Vodka and Gin.
Steel Bonnets is a blend of Scottish and English malts that recently joined the lakes Distillery’s range.
It was also recently awarded a Gold Medal in the World Whisky Ultra-Premium category at the Spirits Business Masters, which specialises in global luxury brands. That is quite an accolade, and the malt certainly lives up to it.
The nose opens with fresh cream and sweet nuts. Pecans, hazelnuts and almonds all appear and give it a really lovely earthy, candied note.
Oak wood also comes out and gives the dram a good depth. The two flavours combine really well and sort of melt into one another. This gives it a slightly vanilla note. The palate it just as sweet, with more vanilla and caramel coming out. The caramel gives it a really rich and soft mouth feel that just lets it flow over the taste buds. It also has a wonderfully spicy background, with hints of nutmeg and cloves. These notes are joined by dried fruit and a slightly malted flavour. It is all wrapped together with wafts of gentle smoke.
The finish is strong and smoky, with a little bit of sweetness. This blend is well deserving of its gold medal, and it would not be surprising if it was awarded plenty more in the future. The Lakes Distillery are really setting themselves up as one to watch for future releases.
Although by no means an expert in the field, my first taste of whisky, like many a Scottish ‘bairn’ was on the end of my dummy (pacifier to our cousins accross the pond), when I was teething. Since the legal drinking age of 18, I have had the pleasure and in some cases the misfortune to taste some very good, and occasionally some very bad whisky, thankfully more of the former than the latter. Therefore accepting what the distillary is trying to achieve and celebrate, here are my thoughts.
Their attempt to bring together the flavour of the borders in this blend has been successful in my opinion. They have encapsulated through this construct the survival of both sides of the border through the allegiance to Kith and Kin and not Kingdom.
I was therefore not surprised at its very pleasant and smooth complexity of taste. This whisky is a well constructed blend of Scots and English Whisky paying homage to the memory of the English and Scottish people who lived in the Border Marches around the areas of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the East to Carlisle and Dumfries in the West during the 13th– 17th centuries.
My personal impression of the Steele Bonnets is it was light on the nose, with a nutty spice and light fruit palette, has a mild smoky back end with a subtle hint of caramel coming through, although others may taste differently. I have to say I found it very palatable and definitely one to enjoy in front of a warm fire on a cold winters evening. It is retailing on Amazon for just over £60 as a first release, and is definitely one to try.
I already have a bottle on order for my own personal consumption, as a Chritsmas present to myself.
List of Reiver Families (*Depicts border families/clans mentioned in the Suppression of Unruly Clans Act 1587)
CLANS AND FAMILIES OF THE WEST MARCH
SCOTLAND: *Beattie (Bates), *Bell, Carlisle, *Carruthers, *Glendinning, *Graham, *Irvine, *Jardine, *Johnstone, *Latimer, *Little, Maxwell, *Moffat, Routledge, *Thomson.
ENGLAND: Curwen, Dacre, Harden, Hetherington, Hodgson, Lowther, Musgrave, Noble, Ridley, Salkeld, Storey, Tailor
CLANS AND FAMILIES OF THE MIDDLE MARCH
SCOTLAND: *Armstrong, Burns, *Crozier, Davison, Douglas, *Elliot, Gilchrist, Henderson, Kerr, Laidlaw, *Nixon, Oliver, Pringle, Rutherford, Routledge, *Scott, Tait, Turnbull, Turner, Young
ENGLAND: Anderson, Carnaby, Charlton, Collingwood, Dodds, Fenwick, Hall, Hedley, Heron, Hunter, Jamieson, Medford, Milburn, Ogle, Potts, Reed, Robson, Shaftoe, Stamper, Stapleton, Stokoe, Thompson, Wilkinson, Witherington, Yarrow.
CLANS AND FAMILIES OF THE EAST MARCH
SCOTLAND: Bromfield, Cranston, Craw, Dixon, Hume, Trotter.
ENGLAND: Dunn, Forster, Gray, Selby.