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Glenglassaugh….Berserkers At The Gates
What drives the world? ……………… Energy. Who controls the riches of the world? ………….. Energy Companies. Who has the most influence over of the governments of the world? …………………… Energy Company Executives. What better business to get into if you’re trying to get plunder? How does this relate to Glenglassaugh you ask? Well…you have to step back in time to fully understand and grasp the meaning of what I’m about to say. The story starts hundreds of years ago, around 793 AD, when the Swedish Vikings raided along the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and England to obtain riches, whisky and land. The Vikings stopped raiding around 1066 AD but they didn’t just disappear. The weather cooled and Vikings entered into a state of dormancy, called the “Ikea Period”, after living large from all their successful years of plundering.
As with the last global warming period, called the “Medieval Warm Period”, which seemed to stir the Vikings into action, we now have entered into the next global warming period, called “Gore’s Meltdown”, which has triggered yet another period of Norse expansion. Well now…back to my original point of who has sway over the world; Big Energy companies and their executives, and what has replaced Medieval raiding …………….. Corporate raiding. So who is the face of big energy in Sweden? ……………… The Scaent Group, which was founded in Sweden in 2003 shortly after the start of second global warming period. What was the first business started by the Scaent Group? ……………. You guessed it…Nordic Power, followed in 2004 with corporate pillaging into BaltEnergo, an electricity company in Latvia, and then marauding in 2006 with Scaent Europower, a new company responsible for energy activities in Ireland, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Austria and the Balkans.
Are the Vikings up to their old tricks? Is Sweden gearing up for whisky raiding once again? As in the past, are the English the target of a bloody good ransacking ,and if so who has the right asset mix of riches, whisky and land that would lure the attention of the modern day Vikings? ………………………….The British multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London called Diageo seems to have the right mix. Now if Diageo were the target you would likely need a beachhead in which to lay an assault. Now what is really interesting is what the Scaent Group did in 2008. They purchased the distillery Glenglassaugh and joined the SWA, a not so secret society, which influences Scottish law. We would of course ask Jonas Garbaravičius, Chairman of the managing board of the Scaent Group, for a comment on his plans for Viking whisky domination, if we spoke Viking or Latvian.
So to honor the Scaent Group, these modern day Berserkers of the business world, with their undeclared secret plans to take over Diageo, we that are about to drink salute you and will remain supportive and vigilant until the day you invade Diageo, set things right and reopen the Port Ellen distillery one day soon. To show our unwavering support, we, a multifarious collection of six whisky drudges, sat down together on June 14, 2012, to enjoy the fruits of the Glenglassaugh distillery, both past and present. With the help of The Collective, Curt and I decided to post our tasting notes together in a joint effort and Pat did the honors of the photos. Tasting mats were supplied by Clint and outside smoking accommodations provided by Jay. Illumination of this great whisky was supplied by a Purple Valley Importer and Australian cricket player, with a broken finger, named Jonathan Bray.
#1 Revival 3 Years Old 46 % ABV First distillery bottling from the new owners. Matured in First and Refill Bourbon casks and finished for 6 months in Oloroso Sherry Butts.
NOSE: Caramel, feinty, lemons, raisins and plums.
TASTE: Chocolate, coffee beans, green apples and nutmeg.
FINISH: Medium and tad briny at the end.
ASSESSMENT: All in all a great start down the path towards a standard older release. This malt would be for Váli (Viking God of revenge) for obvious reasons.
Nose: Feinty. Somewhat sweet. Plum and raisin. Liqueur-soaked cherry. Lemon. Chocolate mint. Oak. Smoked…er…something.
Palate: New Make-ish. Nutmeg. Weedy. Waxy. Wine-y and briney. An applish finish.
Thoughts & Impressions: Kinda feinty, but not too ‘off’. How much of this is saved by the Oloroso? In all honesty…a good start (or restart) for this distillery. “Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yer?”
#2 26 Years Old Rare Cask Series 46 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37 and 43
NOSE: Sweet cherries and ripe oranges, somewhat floral and a touch of mint.
TASTE: Yumm-o (Australian of yummy) nice stewed fruits, black liquorice and lemon.
FINISH: Medium to long with a hint of pepper.
ASSESSMENT: This malt would most likely have been born in the last year prior to it been mothballed, therefore the most innocence and the most fitting dram for Baldr (Viking God of beauty, innocence and peace).
Nose: Cherry. White Chocolate. Orange. Mint. Latex. Wine gums.
Palate: A little sharp and woody. Tannic. Anise that grows and grows through development.
Thoughts & Impressions: Fruits! ‘I said gawdamn!’ Phenomenal nose, but only a great palate. “See the løveli lakes…The wonderful telephøne system…And mani interesting furry animals”
#3 37 Years Old Rare Cask Series 54.8 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37 and 43
NOSE: Jammy stewed fruits, caramel, vanilla, dill and mint
TASTE: Fruit-o-plenty, floral and some pepper
FINISH: Medium to long
ASSESSMENT: According to the Kangaroo Cowboy in the group this is Cougar malt, didn’t know they had Cougars in the outback. This was one of the best malts of the night and loved by all, so we thought that it was best enjoyed by Sjöfn (Viking Goddess of love)
Nose: Deep, dark fruits. Briny dill. Latex paint. Marmalade. Eucalyptus. Hints of red licorice.
Palate: Deep, dark notes reminiscent of old sherry casks, but…apparently not likely sherry. Licorice All Sorts.
Thoughts & Impressions: Austere maturity, but still vibrant. “Including the majestic møøse”
#4 43 Years Old Rare Cask Series 48.7 % ABV – A triple pack of 200ml bottles containing 26, 37 and 43
NOSE: Honey comb, sweet ripe cherries & oranges and some nice floral notes.
TASTE: Ripe juicy peach, pineapple, black liquorice and bananas.
FINISH: Medium to long with a little salt at the end.
ASSESSMENT: Gorgeous nose with delicate floral notes to inspire Bragi (Viking God of poetry).
Nose: Scottish shortbread. Fruits are big and bordering on exotic. Tobacco. Suede.
Palate: Oak is pronounced. Bittersweet chocolate. Toffee. Very sharp orange rind.
Thoughts & Impressions: Like sipping a pipe. “A Møøse once bit my sister …”
#5 1986 – The Expedition Cask Series 45.2 % ABV Cask # 1 25 Years Old Feb 19/86 – July 19/11 Bottled for CSN Wine & Spirits Bottle # 203 of 204
NOSE: Raisins, prunes and caramel. Melons, bananas and a touch of dill and other spices.
TASTE: Honey, orange marmalade, cloves and nutmeg.
FINISH: Medium to long and little tart.
ASSESSMENT: This cask was pretty much the end of the line before the distillery was closed in 1986 so it’s right that this malt is for Forseti (Viking God of justice and truth).
Nose: Caramel. Banana crème. Fig and raisin. Grape. Bread-like and malty.
Palate: Mocha. Honey candy. Oranges…oranges…oranges…and…oranges.
Thoughts & Impressions: Where’s the s3x on the nose?! More impressive on the palate than nose. Though still tasty, to be sure. “No realli! She was Karving her initials on the møøse with the sharpened end of an interspace tøøthbrush given her by Svenge – her brother-in-law – an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian møvies: “The Høt Hands of an Oslo Dentist”, “Fillings of Passion”, “The Huge Mølars of Horst Nordfink”.”
# 6 1976 – Ronnie Routledge –The Chosen Few Series 49.6 % ABV Release #1 35 Years Old May 1976- 2011 Sherry Butt Bottle # 218 of 654 New range of distillery single cask releases following the four Manager’s Legacy Series, each of ten bottlings chosen by a different employee. This cask was chosen by Ronnie Routledge, Sales and marketing representative.
NOSE: Ripe cherries, melons, sweet juicy peach, bananas. Blueberries and nutmeg.
TASTE: Winey, leather and tobacco.
FINISH: Long and warming.
ASSESSMENT: With all that fruit, this would be a drink to enjoy under the Sun with a few good friends, so it’s a natural to be the malt of choice for Sol (Viking Goddess of Sun).
Nose: Cinnamon bun dough. Vanilla. Orange. Blueberry. Sugar cookies. Pear-heavy fruit cocktail.
Palate: Rather sharp. Stewed fruit. Leather.
Thoughts & Impressions: Great drinker, okay noser. Nose is just slightly less than I wanted. “Mynd you, møøse bites Kan be pretty nasti…”
#7 1974 – Jim Cryle – The Manager’s Legacy Series 52.9 % ABV Refill Sherry Hogshead Bottle #154 of 200 The first in a series of four bottlings to celebrate the achievements and influences of Glenglassaugh distillery managers during the period 1964 – 1986.
NOSE: Butterscotch, grape juice, citrus, cedar and dark roast coffee.
TASTE: Oranges, cream and mangos. Black liquorice and raisins.
FINISH: Long and very balanced.
ASSESSMENT: The second favorite of the tasting and is a balanced and virtuous drink which can give you dreams of grandeur which is in keeping with Kvasir (Viking God of inspiration).
Nose: Creamy MacIntosh toffee. Lemon. Pear. White Pepper. Cinnamon stick. Tempered fruits. Chocolate cake. Cool hot cross buns.
Palate: Fruits. Oh, fruits. Orange and exotic. Lovely. Vanilla. Some said licorice…yep, I think so.
Thoughts & Impressions: Absolutely lovely, if slightly safe. Beautiful really. Ok, yeah…I almost love this. This is no Viking…this is the Viking’s plunder…the hawt chick he throws over his shoulder while plundering! “Møøse trained by TUTTE HERMSGERVORDENBROTBORDA”
#8 1967- Walter Grant – The Manager’s Legacy Series 40.4 % ABV May 1967 – 2010 Refill Sherry Hogshead Bottle # 149 of 200 The last in a series of four single cask releases to celebrate the achievements and influences of Glenglassaugh distillery managers during the period 1964 – 1986.
NOSE: A tropical fruit shitstorm. I said it had some of the same notes as the 1960 Bowmores and Clint said it was a lesser brother, more like a Tito Bowmore. Some floral notes, waxy and cinnamon.
TASTE: A little thin after all the cask strength drams. Floral and fruity, liquorice. Dark chocolate and a bit winey.
FINISH: Long and floral.
ASSESSMENT: The number one rated malt of the eight and an exemplary malt worthy of the noble Odin (Ruler of the Viking Gods).
Nose: Pineapple. Peach. Cherry. Eucalyptus. Latex. Oak. Pepper. Bubblegum. Faint spice pantry.
Palate: Somewhat ‘thin’. Fruits are impressive, but die rather quickly and turn a little bitter.
Thoughts & Impressions: Simply astounding nose. The fruit blend is absolutely beautiful. Rich, rich tropicalia. If only it had been a little bigger in terms of abv, but…40.4% tells me they just barely saved this one. “Suggestive poses for the Møøse suggested by VIC ROTTER”
For the benefit of the great unwashed, the Glenglassaugh distillery was built by James Moir in 1875, near the Craig’s Mills Farm, bordering on the North Sea very close to the small scenic town of Portsoy, Banffshire. This Highland malt distillery operated until it closed in 1907. The distillery remained silent until 1959, when it was rebuilt, enlarged and operated until it was mothballed in 1986. The Scaent Group leaped to purchase the distillery on Leap Year day 2008. On December 4th of the same year, the water of life started flowing yet again.
In 2011, I was pressed into a Ferguson raiding tour from Calgary that descended onto this enchanting timeworn whisky institution. Under the gaunt eye of the Managing Director, Stuart Nickerson, we were given a first rate tour befitting our Canadian status, which included a top of the still house tower of Pisa like panorama view of the distillery, the old abandoned stone windmill, the lush fields and the seaside beach and dunes. We inspected some of the less than 400 remaining cask inventory resting in the warehouses and finally we were led by Stuart in a range tasting which included a 30 & 45 year old whisky.
This Glenglassaugh distillery, I believe, has unlimited potential both in producing great whisky and as a major tourist destination with all its natural beauty. The people that work there are friendly and dedicated to their craft ,and I only hope to someday make it back there to once again taste their product.
– Maltmonster (God of mischief)
– Photos: Pat
– Swenglish: copyright…the Pythons.