One of the great joys for an avid Scotch whisky drinker is to discover or re-discover a distillery not yet sampled. Thanks to Billy Walker of the Ben Riach Whisky Company and U.S. importer Anchor Distilling Company, single malt fans get to try new and aged expressions from the recently re-opened Glenglaussaugh distillery in Speyside.
Originally opened in 1875 at the east end of Sandend Bay overlooking the North Sea, Glenglaussaugh (pronounced "glen-GAW-saw"), like so many other distilleries throughout Scotland, ceased production in the late 1980s following a long decline in the popularity of whisky. These days, demand for single malts is at an all-time high, and the distillery resumed production in 2008 under Walker's stewardship.
As a result, five "new" expressions of Glenglaussaugh are landing on U.S. shores beginning this month (though it may take a while for all the expressions to roll out): Three younger, no-age-statement (NAS) whiskies crafted from the new production an dtwo older age-statement whiskies using inventoried stock from before the shutdown.
"We have inhereted the most fantastic mature stocks, ranging from 1963 to 1986," Ben Riach regional sales director Alistair Walker said in a prepared statement. "An we have the newer, non-age statement expressions. The next few years should be a very interesting period in the history of this distillery."
The NY Spirits Examiner received samples of the three newer NAS whiskies:
Revival: The first of the whiskies from the "reborn" distillery, it matures in a combination of red wine casks and ex-bourbon casks. It is then finished for six months in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts. On the nose, it is rich and sweet, with notes of vanilla, honey, plum, oak and very light smoke. It's not overly complex, but very pleasant nonetheless. On the palate, it is round and bright. It's definitely a young whisky, but full of flavor. You'll find notes of banana, vanilla, toffee and cinnamon toast. This is a highly approachable, very drinkable whisky, ideal for an evening by the fire. It does not need water to open up. 46% ABV, $65
Evolution: Part of a planned series of single-variety oak aged whiskies, Evolution matures in first-fill George Dickel Tennessee whiskey barrels. On the nose, this light-gold whiskey is quite aromatic, rich with notes of spice, oak, lemon peel and marzipan. On the mouth, it's bold and toasty, with a buttery richness. There are notes of vanilla, white pepper and buttered popcorn. It's bold, but surprisingly smooth for its 100 proof. 50% ABV, $80
Torfa: The last of the three new expressions takes its cue from Islay, and amps up the smoky peat in the distillation process ("Torfa" stems from an Old Norse word for peat, according to the company). Barreling/maturation information was not provided for this expression. On the nose, the light-gold whisky is noticeably peatier, though not at a level of, say, a Laphroaig. More like the mellow peat notes found in Compass Box's original Peat Monster. A sweet-smoke note dominates the aromatics, with more subtle hints of raw tobacco, honey and peppercorn. On the palate, it is a big-mouthed, slightly brash whisky that tingles the lips and tongues with its high alcohol and tannic contents. The dominant note is a sweet peat-smoke, with hints of green apple, barnwood, quince and flannel. The whisky opens up nicely with the addition of a small amount of water, significantly mellowing the smoke notes on the nose, and pulling citrus and papaya notes forward on the palate. In our opinion, more time in oak may help develop the complexity on this particular spirit. 50% ABV, $75
All three new expressions are non-chill filtered, as are the two older expressions (which we have not tried): Glenglaussaugh 30-Year ($500) and 40-Year ($3,000). The 30-year (44.8% ABV) was fully matured in refill ex-Olorosso Sherry butts. The 40-Year (42.5% ABV) is a mix of single malts aged in ex-bourbon, European oak hogsheads, Pedro Ximenez Sherry and Olorosso sherry butts.
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FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author received three small samples of the Revival, Evolution and Torfa expressions of "Glenglaussaugh. And he learned to properly pronounce "Glenglaussaugh."