Glenglassaugh 36 Years (1975)

Glenglassaugh 36

Distillery/Brand: Glenglassaugh | ABV: 43% | Region: Highland | Color: Deep Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 94

Review
I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Nickerson (MD of Glenglassaugh) almost two years ago when he decided to visit my neck of the woods. I remember him to be an extremely humble person who was immensely proud of the whiskies he was sharing with us that day.

Among some stunning whiskies (which included a 39 year old Massandra Connection) was this beautiful 36 year old single cask – part of the Rare Cask series.

Basically the distillery got shut down in 1986 and only re-opened it’s doors after 22 years in 2008. This meant that there was a lot of stock lying around waiting to be bottled and this 1975 distilled spirit was part of it. Aged for 36 years it saw light in 2010 and was presented in a gorgeous decanter, complete with certificate of authenticity and a red wooden box. Interestingly the bottle states ‘Aged over 30 Years’ instead of giving the exact age.

But what is truly remarkable is that the sample I write about now is about two years old from a bottle (decanter) that was 90% empty. As I poured my self a small dram I expected the worst. Sitting for two years in the back of my closet I was sure oxygen had done it’s best to destroy the spirit inside.

But that was not to be.

Nose: There is first the slightest hint of peat which immediately gets lost in a beautifully layered fruit salad where there is a more than proportionate share given to mangoes and passion fruit. There is a delicate orange marmalade and red berry mix to make the nose even more exotic. I am not sure if this particular spirit has seen a sherry cask but I detected some.

Palate: So creamy and velvety. Lots of passion fruit and then a surprisingly late arrival of nutty spices. Rounded off with a sweet lemon tart citrus coat.

Finish: Comes back up for your second surprise and lingers with delicate spice.

This must be one skillfully crafted malt because two years of non-stop oxidization failed to make a dent in it’s beautiful personality. At around 500GBP a bottle this is not your every day whisky.

But I sure wish it was!

Rating: 94

Teeling Single Grain

Teeling SingleGrain 46

Distillery/Brand: Teeling | Region: Ireland | ABV: 46% | Color: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 94

Review
I don’t know a hell of a lot of about Teeling Irish Whiskey. Actually I don’t know a hell of a lot about Irish Whiskey either. And I sure as hell do not know much about grain whiskey let alone single grain whiskey.

So I was very intrigued when I found out that an Irish Single Grain had been making quite a bit of noise of late by winning the World Whisky Awards Best Grain Whiskey.

What’s interesting is that most grain whiskies are blended but this one is a single grain – meaning it’s from the same distillery. What is even more interesting is that it’s spent pretty much all it’s life in Californian Cabernet Sauvignon casks (which would explain the reddish hue when you hold it up to the light).

Teeling refuse to tell me how old it is and, frankly, I don’t think you need to care. And what I really like is the $65USD price tag on this whiskey which is a pleasant contrast to exorbitant NAS expressions of late. And for that I will give it an extra point (not that it needs it!).

Nose: This one makes you wait. Almost teasing you because you can feel there’s something special hidden down there but it’s not ready to present itself yet. Twenty minutes later it’s resolve weakens and it starts to open up. Very sweet vanilla and black pepper with hints of fresh coconut shavings. Followed by butterscotch on brown cereal and finely chopped almonds. Wait a bit longer for red grapes, apples and creme brulee with a hint of cigar leaf. The aromas are delicately layered on top of one another in near perfect harmony.

Palate: One of the great deliveries of late. Unlike the nose the spirit pounces on your palate in a dizzying tumble of flavors. First the apples and walnuts layered in expertly between soft slices of banana bread drizzled with a winey nectar. Almost sherry like. The grapes are back (both red and green) accompanied by a strong dark cinnamon & licorice dusted with cocoa powder.

Finish: Restrained at first but boisterous after a bit. Pinging the mouth with chocolate and mocha prickles.

This expression has such an exotic flavor I’m not sure how to describe it. It takes you totally by surprise. What ever these guys are doing with those Californian Cabernet Sauvignon casks they’re on to something.

Rating: 94

Springbank 21 Year Old

Springbank 21

Distillery/Brand: Springbank | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Color: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 24 | Balance: 24 | Rating: 94

Review
Let me just come out and say this. Springbank is tied with Ardbeg and Amrut as my favorite distillery in the whole world. Not only are they a genius distillery (creating three expressions from the same equipment!) they also claim to be the only distillery that performs the complete production process in its own facilities — including floor malting, maturation, and bottling.

Add to that their consistently brilliant flavors and you’d guess why I hold them in such high esteem.

I’ve sampled their 10, 10CS, 12, 12CS, 15 and 18 and each one, while similar in profile, has it’s own subtle nuances that sets it apart.

Now here I was ready to test the flagship 21 (complete in blingy gold packaging). This age is a bit of a legend and there are many versions of this 21 year old spirit.

They were bottled in dumpy bottles during the 1980’s. After that, regular bottles appeared with a cardboard box and slightly different printing, first with a jagged label and then with a straight cut label. In 2005, the last batch was released (2400 bottles).

Since the distillery was closed between 1979 and 1989 it was only very recently that the 21 hit the market (2011) again. Now I never got the chance to sample the pre-2005 expressions but if this is any indication then they must have been gorgeous.

The liquid has been matured in both fresh and re-fill sherry casks.

Nose: Brilliantly balanced sherry with hints of black peppercorns. There’s a touch of smoky meat stew with underlying salty peat. But it’s the fruits that bring up the rear so admirably. Red apples and bears mulched with a honeycomb sweetness that make you savor the nose longer than most whiskies.

Palate: Crisp dark honey with pepper dust. There is that mild salty peat again but now with a lovely woody chocolate cinnamon paste. But it’s the perfectly balanced consistency of liquid that forces you to hold on to it for so long.

Finish: Unbelievably long with the same dark peppers and woody cinnamon.

This one reminds me of the 18 a lot but there must be something in that extra three years that make this one that much more complex. Don’t be put off by the snazzy gold packaging. It’s the spirit inside that is pure gold.

Rating: 94