Caskaway: Gregor Hannah's desert island drams

The founder of Hannah Whisky Merchants and Lady of the Glen shares which whiskies he would take to our desert island
By Bradley Weir
Gregor Hannah’s career in the whisky business began 10 years ago when he set up Hannah Whisky Merchants and its flagship brand Lady of the Glen, using a bank loan for a car to acquire two casks.

In 2014, Hannah successfully won support from the Prince’s Trust; established by King Charles III when he was the Prince of Wales, the trust’s objective is to help people and their businesses reach their maximum potential, and for Hannah, gaining its support was a huge milestone. He also won support from Scottish EDGE, both as a winner of the funding competition’s Young EDGE award and as the first recipient of a Young EDGE loan.

Hannah Whisky Merchants and Lady of the Glen have continued to grow, with a bottling hall set up in Dalgety Bay in 2020. In 2022, Hannah and his four-person team at Lady of the Glen received the award for Independent Bottler of the Year at the Icons of Whisky awards, perhaps the crowning achievement in his whisky career so far.


15 Years Old

My whisky journey started in the Fenwick Hotel, just outside Glasgow. My dad would play the pipes there at New Year’s and I would hang around while he popped into various parties in the hotel. It was there that I was given my first taste of whisky and I’ll always remember it was a Dalwhinnie. I couldn’t possibly describe the tasting notes as I was very young at the time, but I’ve always been fond of it since. Its classic and elegant branding with its dumpy bottle has always stood out on a gantry for me, and it’s a cask I have always wanted to bottle myself but have sadly never been able to source.


24 Years Old (Lady of the Glen)

The first cask I ever bottled, along with a Benrinnes, was this Invergordon. I was working at the bank full-time, and I acquired the funds to purchase the casks by applying for a bank loan for a car to improve my commute from Fife to Edinburgh. With that loan, I set up the brand and acquired the two casks and the rest is history. My accountant advised me that if it all goes wrong, I’ll have lots of whisky to drink – not great advice as I reflect back. The Invergordon itself was [like] a delicious vanilla ice cream with a touch of pear and peach on the nose.


Caribbean Cask

The first cask I ever re-racked was a Tullibardine into an ex-rum cask and that was inspired by the Balvenie Caribbean Cask. You can get it in almost every bar these days, whether it’s a specialist whisky bar or not – and it’s tasty! It really opened my eyes to cask finishing to create unique flavours and points of difference.


The Offerman

Lagavulin became my favourite distillery to enjoy about six years ago, after I had acquired a taste for Islay. I [also] thoroughly enjoyed Parks and Recreation, in which Nick Offerman played the deadpan and practical Ron Swanson. It’s not my favourite Lagavulin but as a go-to dram, it’s solid and enjoyable. It has got a bit of fun and story behind it which is one part of creating a successful product.


Port Ruighe

Ruby port and peat is magic! I source our ex-port casks direct from Portugal from a fantastic bodega there, which I had the pleasure of visiting prior to Covid. Seeing a cooper cook his ham on a fire pit was eye-catching, but also trying port from Porto’s various houses was a great experience and one that really piqued my interest. Now, I always look out for well-balanced port finishes, and the Talisker Port Ruighe is one of the most enjoyable, in my opinion. [It has] red fruity notes [as well as] floral.


I would take my golf clubs and see if it is possible within a month of Sundays for me to improve my handicap, because thus far it has not been possible. If nothing else, they will be helpful to crack open the coconuts.