Glenglassaugh is a distillery in an area that has seen many closings, technically. The eastern highlands still have some distilleries open, but there’s a lot of them that have shut down over the years. One of the most prominent ones is Glenugie. A rare thing to come across that now, and the prices have soared accordingly.
For a long time Glenglassaugh itself also was part of that list of lost distilleries. Luckily a couple of years ago some folks were able to buy and restore the place, and get it back up and running. Even more recent the BenRiach Distillery Company bought Glenglassaugh from them and took over, after which Stuart Nickerson (involved in the restoration) moved to Shetland to start building a distillery there.
The result of Glenglassaugh’s silent years is quite obvious in the complete lack of middle aged whisky. There quite a bit of old stuff available at hefty prices, and there have been some releases since its reopening of new whisky. Of course, that new stuff is all very young, up to six years old by now. The old stuff is at least 29 years old since they initially closed in 1986.
Anyway, this dram is part of Signatory’s Cask Strength initiative. They release those whiskies in nice looking vases now, but a decade ago there were dumpy bottlings. Generally those are always of very high quality. I don’t I remember having one that was not nice or better than that.
Wow! With only 46.8% ABV I expected this to be a lot less strong and fierce It has scents of wet rocks and is very austere. Very sharp. Grass and straw with a hint of vanilla. There are scents of wild flowers, daisies, daffodils, dandelions. Also apple and iron.
The palate is very, very sharp with a strong flavor of alcohol at first. Some oak, grass and straw. I also get apple and unripe pear. Flowers and leafy herbs. Floral again, and slightly strangely waxy.
The finish is very floral again as well with some vanilla. After the nose and palate this part is surprisingly soft and gentle. It’s not very long and the waxy flavor is back here too. White, fresh oak.
This is a very strange whisky. As in, a whisky of this ABV that is this sharp is an exception in my book! The austerity it displays on the nose and the palate are fairly off the charts and there’s a lot of alcohol happening, even though a lot of it has gone to the angels over the almost three decades of maturing.
Apart from that austerity there’s a very light whisky hiding in there. A very floral and light dram with lots of wild flower flavors. That makes it something different than we generally get these days, it seems that most of the distilleries producing really floral, herbaceous whisky are closed or silent. I really hope Glenglassaugh can bring whisky like this back to the world!
So, interesting: yes. Tasty, yes, quite. Very, very interesting and actually, after you know what to expect it’s a great little dram. Just be wary of the first sniff and/or sip!
Glenglassaugh 1976-2004, 27yo, cask 2383, 46.8%, Signatory Vintage