Glenglassaugh (pronounced glen-glas-sow) was founded by local businessman James Moir and his two nephews, Alexander and William Morrison, in 1875. They sold it to the Highland Distillers Company in 1892 and the whisky produced started to build up a good reputation with large whisky blenders. Glenglassaugh was historically used in famous brands such as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. Glenglassaugh was closed and mothballed in 1986 and was not reopened until 2008.
Glenglassaugh is an eastern Highland distillery, found close to the village of Portsoy about 50 miles north west of Aberdeen. The distillery is located on the coast and overlooks a small sandy bay - this can be seen in the short video clip that we have included below, which was recorded by one of the current distillery staff. The remote location was chosen due to its proximity to one of the highest quality natural water sources in the area - Glassaugh Spring - which is still used for production today.
In 2008, Glenglassaugh was reborn when it was purchased a Dutch company called the Scaent Group. This makes it one of Scotland's few independently owned distilleries. They refurbished the old equipment and have since opened a brand new visitor centre. The first spirit under Scaent's ownership flowed in November 2008 and the production has been 200,000 litres a year since, although the actual annual capacity is around one million litres. This production is slowly building up maturing stock and all is planned to be released as single malt. Scaent also inherited around 400 casks from the previous owners - these were from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, up to 1986 when it closed. They have released limited bottlings of these, of which this 26 years old is one of the latest editions. It is bottled at 46% ABV and should cost around £150 a bottle from specialist whisky retailers.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright golden amber and the nose is robust, with clear evidence of this whisky's age. The nose begins with heavy notes of malted cereal grains and oak, which are backed up by plenty of wood spice (think of cinnamon, nutmeg, cedarwood) and hints of some charred wood. Other aromas that come through are some distinct caramel and burnt orange zest, plus some honey and vanilla. On the palate this feels firm and a little oily. It grips your tongue and has a good intensity and delivery of flavour. This is very malty and very oaky to begin with some burnt sugar and those wood spice notes from the nose coming through well. These are joined by further notes of toasted almond, honey and vanilla which give much needed sweetness and balance. Finally a hint of smoke is suggested but this is more reminiscent of burnt or toasted cereals, rather than being peat based. The finish is of decent length and starts sweetly (that honey and vanilla again) but quickly becomes drier, woody and spicy, before ending with a touch of espresso coffee-like bitterness. This makes it tangy and mouthwatering.
What's the verdict?
We not tried many Glenglassaugh whiskies, so we were intrigued by this one. It is a lovely, warming dram that is complex, rich and offers plenty of character. It is driven by robust notes of oak wood, spices and malted barley and this may make it too challenging for some, but it should be tried. We can't wait to see what the whiskies that Glenglassaugh are producing now will be like in a few years!
We would like to thank Ronnie Routledge from Glenglassaugh for supplying us with this sample and for his time spent talking to us both about the Glenglassaugh distillery and range of whiskies.
Please note > the image at the top of this post is taken from www.glenglassaugh.com.