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