Thursday, January 17, 2013

New release - Glenglassaugh Evolution

The Glenglassaugh Evolution - Ex Tennessee Cask is the first bottling in a new series of single malts which will celebrate the variety of oak cask styles used to mature whisky.  In this case it has been matured in a first fill barrel from the American distillery of George Dickel in Tennessee.  It has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 57.2% ABV and costs £49 a bottle.  The exact number of bottles is not revealed is rumoured to be approximately 6,000. You can only buy it from selected specialist whisky retailers for around the £50 mark.

The Glenglassaugh distillery (pronounced glen-glas-sow) is located on the east Highland coast, close to the village of Portsoy and about 50 north west of Aberdeen.  It was founded in 1875 by local businessman James Moir and his two nephews, Alexander and William Morrison, and their whisky quickly became popular with the large whisky blending companies.  Glenglassaugh was historically used in blends such as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark.  The distillery went on to have an intermittent history with three long periods of closure between 1908-1931, 1936-1957 and 1986-2008.

In 2008, the distillery was purchased and renovated by the Dutch company Scaent Group, who set up the Glenglassaugh Distillery Compnay.  They also inherited around 400 old casks of maturing whisky as part of the £5 million deal, of which some have been released already.  The first new spirit was produced in November 2008 and the current production rate is 200,000 litres per year, although the capacity is around the one million litre mark.  2012 saw a new visitor centre opened and the first whisky released that had been produced and matured by the current ownership - the Revival.  This Evolution is the second such whisky ...

Our tasting notes
The colour is a very pale lemon yellow and the nose is immediately lively and zesty, with plenty of lemon and butterscotch coming through.  The aromas are light and delicate with some fresh, crisp green apple and pear combining with the zesty lemon and a slightly floral note, which is reminiscent of honeysuckle.  The nose develops with time and includes later aromas of malty cereal and toffee.

On the palate, this feels instantly tangy with the zesty lemon at the forefront - this has an almost sherbet-like edge and is followed by some sugary sweetness, which is reminiscent of icing sugar.  Once the slightly feisty, youthful alcohol settles down, some lovely intense and interesting notes appear and combine with each other superbly - think of vanilla, hard butterscotch sweets (this note is particularly strong), coconut, green pear and apple, honey and a hint of white pepper.

The high ABV suggests adding some water and with a few drops the whisky gets even better.  The water instantly softens both the nose and palate with honey and toffee notes prominent.  It is less sugary and intense. A vibrant note of freshly sawn wood comes through that was not present before and adds a pleasant dryness.

The finish is very woody and drying, which leaves your mouth watering.  The lemon zest, crisp green apple and icing sugar notes from before add further depth. The intensity and alcohol strength help to prolong the finish, which is of good length for a lighter whisky.

What's the verdict?
The Evolution is a very interesting whisky.  It is clearly very young but has plenty of intensity and vibrancy and, perhaps most importantly, good characteristics coming from the casks.  It is good at the natural cask strength but benefits from some water, and can actually take quite a lot and still hold itself together.  There is plenty of potential shown here by Glenglassaugh and we can't wait to try any further planned releases.

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