Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spirit of Speyside 2013 - part 2

This is a holiday report

Saturday morning we were up early for a drive up to the north coast of Speyside. Just outside of Speyside really, as our next destination was the ultimate tour of Glenglassaugh. We were greeted by our host of today, Ronnie Routledge. Ronnie has hosted several of Gordon and MacPhail's tastings I have been participating in, back in the good old days, when whisky was cheaper and also better as we all know :-)


It was a quiet day at Glenglassaugh, and we had an informative and relaxed tour of the place, getting to see wee bit of corners and places you don't normally get around to on standard tours. 

Casks ready to be filled

The tour finished with a few samples of various casks in the warehouse. I usually have a dislike for redwine casked whiskies and finishes, but a californian red wine cask was a joy to taste. It could be because californian red wine is bolder, sweeter and more fullbodied than other red wines, which I find sour and acidic in flavour in comparison, which converts over to the whiskies that has been put in the casks. It's nice to be positively surprised sometimes. Glenglassaugh had a gap in production between 1986 and 2008, so the whisky they have, are either very young or very old. It's almost like a brand new distillery, with the luck of a few rare and very old casks sitting in the warehouse. Just a couple of weeks before our visit, the distillery was bought over by the group also owning Benriach and Glendronich. I doubt they can affect what's currently being bottled as there is not a lot to toy around with, and whatever owner they have, they have to be innovative with the young stuff to grap consumers attention. As I will tell you in a bit, the rare old stuff will sell itself

Here is a short review of what we tasted

1. Glenglassaugh Revival 46%
Revival is a very young Glenglassaugh finished for 6 months in 1st fill ex-oloroso
The nose instantly reveals a very young whisky. The newmake-ish young impression quickly fades away for some sweet woody spices, and the oloroso influence. The finish is a bit rough but still well balanced and ending with a sour touch very common for young spirits. Not bad for a whisky this young. Rating 77/100

2. Glenglassaugh Evolution 57.2%
Another young Glenglassaugh. This time matured in 1st fill ex-tennesee casks (George Dickel). One of things that distuinguishes Tennessee bourbons! is their high corn content (80%). It is very different to the Revival. I am met by an intense vanilla, malt, slight mint. The newmake is more present in this one, but its the nice clean crisp stuff you get straight from the spirit stuff, not the sour thing I associate with whisky that has been matured for a too short time. The finish is newmakey, malty with a hint of caramel and butterscotch and the toasted oak shines through very clearly. Rating 79/100

3. Glenglassaugh 26yo 46%
This is the youngest expression of the old stock. It replaced a 21yo which despite the same age statement had had quite some batch difference. From the few independent bottlings I have tased over the years, this is vefry classic Glenglassaugh. A fantastic nose of candy fruity armagnac apple/pear meets me. This kind of gentle flavour often found in older whiskies, is continued in the palate, where suddenly a punch of woodiness hits me. A very nice dram, maybe slight to woody in the finish. Rating 88/100

4. Glenglassaugh 37yo 58.9%, sample bought in visitor centre, thanks to Michael Bach for the taste!
Quite different from the former dram. More punch and more crisp and clean, with a vanillaed touch. Its actually very vanillaed. Sample is actually too small for a review, but this is not that serious a blog, just a diary :-). Rating 87/100

5. Glenglassaugh 30yo 43%. The label lies. The small sticker around says its actually a 37yo. In style this reminds of the 26yo. Gentle candy, apples and pears, very drinkable. This is like whisky from the old days, when I could actual afford bottles like this. Rating 88/100

6. Glenglassaugh 1967 40.4%. The flavour follows that of no 3 and 5. The age has added a lot of extra depth into this, but it is not woody at all. It bears the mythical flavours of very old well balanced whisky. It's more fullbodied, more spicy, but still similar to the younger versions. Not knowing anything, this could be a cask bought from Gordon and MacPhail, as it bears some similarity to what I have tasted from some of their old sherry casks. One of the best drams of the festival.  Rating 92/100

After this tasting we hurried to the Tamdhu open day. Instead of a set event, Tamdhu had made an open day, with tours starting every 15 minutes or so followed by a tasting. Beside the old station were tents and booth with food, ice, coffee, music, softdrinks and beer from Speyside Craft Brewery. Fantastic beer I think.


The new owners of Tamdhu (Ian McCleod) has decided to bottle Tamdhu exclusively from sherry casks. They have released a new 10yo 40% and for this day they also had a special relaunch bottling, 1000 bottles filled at 46%, also 10yo. Beside these two whiskies, we also had two cask strength samples at the tasting (of which one was nice). I found the regular 10yo sulphured. Being oversensitive to sulphur sometimes I was happy I was not the first to mention this in our group. I liked the relaunch bottling, but didn't purchase it, as it was priced more than double what I would pay, and was clearly aimed for collectors and people with more money than sense, or for some unlucky bastards who just isn't aware of what is available out there. Of all the distilleries and shops we visited, this was probably the only place where my group of 8 didnt make any purchases during our 9 day visit, so I reckon Tamdhu are not doing things right. I often thought on my companions as mindless raiders more than regular shoppers this week. So not being able to sell anything at all was unusual. 

After the Tamdhu event, 4 of us went to whisky quiz organised by Chivas Bros. The quiz had around 25-30 participating teams. It was won by a tem of 3 dutch guys teamed together with the whiskycyclist. We ended a nice tied 2nd with a team from the Pot Still Glasgow. The end of the whiskyquiz was a tie-breaker followed by a sudden death, it was a little chaotic, where we didn't have a clue what was going on, until the winning team explained it to us in the Royal Oak in Dufftown :-)

The Danish Drinking Team

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