Mar 302015
 

Glenglassaugh 35 y.o. Ronnie Routledge (The Chosen Few Series)bottles 002

49.6% abv

Score:  89.5/100

 

Glenglassaugh is an interesting malt to wrap your head around.  It’s either very old (and consequently very expensive) or very young and beleaguered with all of the inherent issues that generally follow suit in young whisky.  This all stems from a seemingly insurmountable gap in production.  The distillery was shuttered for 21 years between the late 80s and the late 2000s.

While the younger malts produced since 2009 are not much more than unrealized potential, the older ones can be subtle and rich in character.  I love some of the latter.  The former…well…let’s just say I’m rooting for ’em, if not 100% enamoured yet.  It’s a long road ahead for this brand, but I think it will happen.  The right people are running the show.

This was the first release in The Chosen Few Series, in which each of the ten casks in the range were selected by a different employee.  This run of bottlings followed on the heels of the Manager’s Legacy Series, and this particular cask was chosen by Ronnie Routledge, Sales and Marketing Representative.  The cask in focus was a sherry butt that yielded a whopping 654 bottles at the advanced age of 35 years.  Impressive outturn.  Obviously the angel’s saked their thirst elsewhere and left the ‘Glassaugh alone.

Not sure about Ronnie’s qualifications when it comes to cask selection, but if he can pick ’em like this…ok.  Think he may have a back-up plan if the sales thing doesn’t work out.

Nose:  Cinnamon bun dough.  Vanilla.  Orange, blueberry and dried cherry.  Sugar cookies.  Pear-heavy fruit cocktail.  Peach candy.  Mild cigar and old cask.  Fruit leather.  Very soft, faint spices.

Palate:  Rather sharp at delivery, and lacking a lot of the softer fruit notes the nose hints at.  Still some tart dried orange fruits though.  Some sort of stewed fruit.  Leather.  Somewhat tannic.  Moist tobacco.  Drying finish.

Thoughts:  Almost a great whisky, but certainly very, very good.  I’ll never turn one of these down, but a caution…comes complete with a pretty hefty price tag.  Possibly a justified expense?

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 

 Posted by at 8:33 am
May 192014
 

Glenglassaugh Torfa008

50% abv

Score:  79/100

 

Here we have the third official Glenglassaugh from the recently revived distillery.  It started with ‘Revival’ a couple years back…continued with ‘Evolution’ last year…and now we have ‘Torfa’.  ‘Torfa’ comes from the Old Norse word for ‘Peat’, according to the distillery’s website.  (Wondering if others will others follow suit now with these Scandinavian naming conventions.  Highland Park blazed the trail, of course, and now ‘Glassaugh has blown the Viking horn in turn.  Have we now moved laterally from our Celtic roots to our wider Germanic lineages in choosing names for our malts?  Meh…so be it.  Some fun for the linguists out there, I suppose.)

First things first…I have to raise the same concerns here as I did in the review of Revival.  Basically, that it’s too young and maybe hiding its true self a little (here it’s the peat, there it was the Oloroso).  Now…before you think I’m down on this one, hear me out.  This is actually quite a decent spirit.  There is a lot of potential in the glass here.  At the moment it’s kind of like a young colt chomping at the bit, but given the right amount of time and attention, it very well could be a winner.  And likely will be.  In fact, this peated variant is like a more syrupy version of a young Kilchoman, which bodes very well for the future of Glenglassaugh.

Pre-distillation peating for Torfa was apparently to about 20ppm, but as you likely know, that level of phenols does not necessarily translate directly to the bottle.  Irrespective though, the fact remains that this is a relative smoke monster.  It’s youth ensures that its feisty claws are firmly dug into the billowy cushions of smoke and that those peat notes are bold and forefront.

In briefest summation: This seems like a bit of a novelty bottling.  I’m more interested in seeing what the distillery’s true naked profile will be in a few years.  In the meantime, we’ll have fun with these releases and watch patiently as it comes into its own.

BTW…do note that I’ve scored this a full six points higher than the ‘Revival’.  Nice upward trajectory in a mere two years, wouldn’t you say?

Nose:  Dry smoke and ash.  Pepper.  Dusty asphalt.  Lemon, lime and dry pie crust.  Slightly nutty.  Brine.  Hay.  A touch of custard.  The smell of a cast (as in plaster, fabric and some vaguely sweaty medicinal notes).  Not dissimilar to Kilchoman new make.  Some creamy vanilla notes come out after a while.

Palate:  Thankfully tastes a little more mature than it noses.  Pulpy apple.  Smoke.  Citrus, as we’d expect.  Wet rocks and salt water.  Some sweetness.  A touch of oatmeal.  Granny Smith apple and Bartlett pear skins.  Sauvignon blanc.  While this may be mainland peat, it certainly tastes like the more oceanic Islay bog matter.  Rather neat.

Thoughts:  This was not ready to be bottled.  Smells younger than it is even, if that’s possible.  I’d guess a year or two if blind.  The thing is…you can’t fault the whisky here, only the decision to bottle it in its infancy.  Generating cashflow is imperative in a fledgling operation (or revival), but you gotta balance that against the currency of your reputation in future years.  I look forward to what this will be in another 5-10 years.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:16 pm
Apr 032014
 

Glenglassaugh 1967 Manager’s Legacy Walter GrantIMG_6413

40.4% abv

Score:  92.5/100

 

Time to give some long overdue attention to one of Speyside’s more interesting distilleries as it works its way slowly back into the mainstream.

Glenglassaugh, as you may or may not know, has only been back in production for about 5 or 6 years as of 2014.  The distillery had been mothballed in the mid-80s and sat in dreamy silence for years before being bought out by the Swedish Scaent Group and reopened in 2008.  This was destined to be a short-lived tenure, however, as the distillery was subsequently scooped up by BenRiach in 2013.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  We’re not speaking of BenRiach-era Glenglassaugh right now, so let’s get back to the Swedes for a bit…

Apparently at the time of the initial Scaent purchase in ’08 there were fewer than 400 casks sitting in repose in the Glenglassaugh warehouses.  As you can imagine, 400 casks doesn’t stretch very far.  Almost like starting from scratch, to be honest.

So…there are two ways for a distillery to get the dollars (pounds) flowing again when they’re burdened with this state of affairs.  One…they can release young, unripe spirit in order to drive the collectors apeshit hoarding the revived distillery’s first releases.  Or two…they can pillage a cask or three from that 400 barrel inventory and release these wizened old drams for astronomical prices under the marketing guise of age and scarcity.

And what did the Scaent group do with Glenglassaugh?  Why, both, of course.  First there was the three year old revival, which was followed hard on the heels by Evolution, and now we’re on the eve of the distillery’s latest offering, Torfa.  We’ll come to these latter two young’uns a little later on, but for now let’s sip something old and rare from the pre-shutdown days.  Namely the Manager’s Legacy Walter Grant bottling.

So…who is Walter Grant, and why is his name on a bottle of whisky?  Grant was the distillery manager for Glenglassaugh up until the time of its 1986 mothballing.  As a tribute to Grant’s time at the helm, Glenglassaugh picked one hell of a cask to bear his name.  This little gem, released in 2010, is a 43 year old whisky matured in a refill sherry hogshead, and to be honest…this is one heck of a legacy to leave behind.  If only it had been a little bigger in terms of abv, but…that 40.4% abv tells me they just barely saved this one.  As you know, anything less than 40% can no longer be considered ‘whisky’.  Nick of time, baby.  Nick of time.

Nose:  Oh, man…island paradise.  This is a tropical fruit heaven.  Pineapple.  Peach.  Cherry.  Pepper.  Some latex and oak, typical of older cask influence.  Eucalyptus.  Bubblegum.  Faint spice pantry…maybe faded cinnamon.  Light smoke note.  Wax.  Astounding, really.  Please excuse my crassness, but…this is actually a fucking phenomenal nose.

Palate:  A little ‘thin’ on the delivery.  Fruits are still alive and sassy, but then die and bitter out a touch.  Pleasantly drying.  Firm oak notes, with some very toasted wood influence.  Cacao.  Dry cinnamon stick.  Burnt marshmallow.  Vaguely floral.  It’s a shame the abv is so low.  No fault, unless we want to blame the angels, but it’s heartbreaking to see a whisky that should rightfully score in the mid 90s, coming in so much lower due to very little horsepower.

Thoughts:  Let’s get beyond the lightweight nature.  This is still a really great dram.  The olfactory experience alone makes it worthwhile.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Pat

 Posted by at 10:19 pm
Feb 072013
 

Glenglassaugh Revivalbottles 016

46% abv

Score:  73/100

 

I really want to love this whisky.  The fact that Glenglassaugh is making a run at the comeback is brilliant and inspiring.  The revenue obstacles they face in closing a 21 year gap in production are enough to make most concede defeat, but this distillery is working the angles, and pumping out a few nice older releases from their depleting stores of older stock.  The good news? They generate revenue to keep the distillate flowing, and we, the consumer, get some fine old drams to tide us over.  The bad news?  Those old stocks are finite.  As they run lower, there will be less and less in the warehouse to constitute special releases further down the line.

For sheer balls and bravado, I am 110% in the corner of this contender.

Revival is the first release of spirit produced under the new ownership team at Glenglassaugh.  The whisky is now a solid three years on and, much like the afore-mentioned methods of driving revenue, this is another attempt at getting the cash flow rolling.  A three year old whisky is not generally going to be a truly memorable dram (not in a good way anyway), however in this age of single malt excitement, we whisky nerds want to snap up early releases from the distilleries and try the product at various stages along the road to maturity.

Nose:  Feinty and a little sharp.  Definitely notes of new make.  Quite sweet (both synthetic, from the feisty young spirity notes…and more natural, from the sherry).  Plum and raisin.  Liquor-soaked black cherry.  Lemon.  Chocolate and mint.  Oak.  A sort of ‘smoked’ note about it.

Palate:  New make-ish.  Nutmeg.  Kinda weedy.  Wax.  Briny.  Mouth-puckering orange rind.  Not altogether awesome, and certainly a drop-off from the nose.  I kinda think the sherry acts like a corset when it comes to the nose, holding all the undesirables in check.  Then, when the corset comes off…well..there’s no hiding the less than perfect form as you actually taste it.

Thoughts:  Feinty, but not tooooo far off.  Though I do have to wonder how much this is being propped up by the sweetening influence of the Oloroso.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:10 pm
Aug 052012
 

WARNING – The content of this article is not intended for Diageo.  If you are in anyway related to Diageo you should not read, disseminate, distribute or copy this article.

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.

MALTMONSTER

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.

CURT

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

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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

MALTMONSTER

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)

CURT

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

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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.

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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.

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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.

MALTMONSTER

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).

CURT

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.

 Posted by at 10:26 pm