Steel Bonnets

Steel Bonnets (46.6%, OB, 2018)

  • Category: Blended English and Scotch malt whisky
  • Origin:  The Lakes Distillery & ?
  • Bottling: The Lakes Distillery, OB
  • ABV: 46.6%
  • Cost: £64.95


What they say

Steel Bonnets is the first cross-border blend of exceptional English and Scotch malt whiskies.

We have created Steel Bonnets blended malt whisky to honour the memory of those people who lived in the Border Marches of England and Scotland during the 13th – 17th centuries.

In early English, to ‘reive’ is to rob, and from this were born ‘The Border Reivers’, nicknamed the ‘Steel Bonnets’ after the helmets they wore for protection. ‘Steel Bonnets’ was the nickname given to the community known as the Border Reivers, and is now also the name we have chosen the worlds’ first ever blend of English and Scotch Malt Whisky.

This Frontier territory, so distant from Crown control of both nations proved difficult to govern. In fact, the people of the Border Marches did not see themselves as either English or Scottish and therefore developed a certain independence of spirit that set them against the world. Their allegiance was to kin, not kingdom. Loyalty was to the tribe, or clan – to family. These loyalties had no border or king, but united them under their clan name.

Past hostilities forgotten, this is a union of all that is good.

Official tasting notes:

  • Creamy vanilla and comforting woodsmoke are interwoven to create a whisky born of the unique rugged character and heritage of the of the Scottish & English borderlands. The whisky has creamy, slightly nutty & full bodied flavour.

What I say

Thanks to The Lakes Distillery for the official sample.

Another blended whisky first from The Lakes distillery as I’m pretty sure their The One blend was the first to use whisky from all of the British Isles.

This has been made using Malt whisky from The Lakes Distillery and select Scotch single malt whiskies, I don’t know where I heard it from but there has been a suggestion that Bunnahabhain malt may feature heavily?

I have already read a few reviews of this expression which appear to have been tainted by the bitter taste of advertising or pricing. However as usual I try to analyse what is in the bottle rather than the marketing and price tag that are attached and leave you our readers to decide if you think it is worth buying/trying.

My own opinion on the marketing extends as far as saying that at least The Lakes are trying to establish a historical context within their local region. The development of a local fanbase is exceedingly shrewd going forward with the competition and sheer number of new distilleries. Also the development of a new category of blended malt of which we probably haven’t seen or tasted the like for over 100 years when last English distilleries mass produced mostly grain but also some malt for bulking out/blending with Scotch output.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Full amber gold (10/20), quick, medium-fine tears leave fine legs.
  • Nose: Honey sweet, toffee, hint of smoke, vanilla, butterscotch, slight earthiness, malty or malt loaf – on the sweeter side.
  • Taste: Crisp on the palate and medium-full bodied, with oily and waxy oranges, orange oil, ginger, treacle or treacle toffee, molasses, orange & ginger marmalade, zesty orange and red grapefruit, malt, toffee, hints of clove or aniseed, earthy herbality, liqourice root, wood smoke, cayenne pepper heat, nutty.
  • Finish: Long, sweet, treacle, bitter & spiced element, black pepper.


A robust blended malt, I’m guessing a healthy influence of sherry cask maturation involved in some of the components at least due to the influences on the palate of orange, herbal, wood-smoke and nuts, very likeable in fact.

Score 84/100

Shop for Steel Bonnets Blended Malt Whisky  (opens Master of Malt)

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Categories: Lakes

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