Very excited about todays whisky. Mythical unicorns don’t appear very often and this is indeed a very rare treat. Certainly knowing the gentleman behind this dram was the key to having this offered up to make your adventure extra special. Stuart Nickerson who I am very thankful to say was the amazingly generous chap that nominated me for induction into the Keepers of the Quaich. Whisky has flowed in his family for a long time and just this past week his daughter Jennifer received the Icons of Whisky Irish Whiskey Brand Ambassador of the year award. A big congratulations to Jennifer and to Stuart for such an amazing whisky legacy.
So onto the dram itself. Glenglassaugh has had a very long and challenging history founded in 1875 by James Moir and his two nephews. Located right near Glenglassaugh Springs the distillery had an exceptional water source that had previously allowed illicit distilling to be conducted to great acclaim. After James death in 1892 the distillery was sold to Highland Distillers a subsidiary of the Edrington group. It was rebuilt in 1960 but unfortunately closed in 1986 with a downturn in the Scotch industry.
In 2008 Glenglassaugh was sold to the Sceant group by Edrington and Stuart Nickerson who was their whisky consultant elect was instrumental in not only finding Glenglassaugh as an option but also brokering the deal. With a considerable amount of money needed to refurbish the distillery and one of the warehouses Stuart was able to utilize a small parcel of older Glenglassaugh that had been distilled before the closure. I was lucky enough to be the representative for Glenglassaugh in Canada and can vouch for the incredible 20, 30 and 40+ year old whiskies that were part of the rebuilding of the brand. Stuart did so well that the distillery was sold in 2013 well ahead of schedule to the Walker family, owners of Benriach and Glendronach. Within a few years Benriach, Glendronach and Glenglassaugh were subsequently sold to industry powerhouse Brown Foreman.
Once production started Stuart was canny enough to lay down some casks for himself and so we have today in front of us a whisky that was distilled, casked, aged and bottled by the same man.
I tried some of the early peated new make that Stuart had distilled many years ago. While chatting in his lounge earlier this year he mentioned this cask and jumped at the chance (actually may have jumped off my seat). Several editions ago we had the Portsoy Sauterne Cask. One of the most delicious Sauterne casked whiskies that I have tried to date and only around 7 years of age.
Auchinderom Peated (Glenglassaugh) Sauterne Cask 7 Year Old – Cask Number 007 – Highland – Alcohol 58.6%
Colour: Lovely deep gold. No doubt the Sauterne Cask is at work here. Smaller barrel size than a Bourbon Cask so more wood to whisky ratio imparting a lot more.
Nose: No mistaking that this whisky lives with peat. Large and in charge is a big hit of glorious seaside. Like stepping out onto the beach and taking a big deep breath of sweet fresh salty air. Glenglassaugh is right on the coast so this is not unexpected. I find myself taking a long time over this nose to try and get some of the Sauterne cask influence. That sweet freshness could be it and does hold the promise of luscious things to come on the palate.
Palate: Wow ok the dense vegetal peat character is right at the door asking me to shake the sand off my shoes and come in. That medicinal note that a lot of people relate to coastal Islay is lining the walls of this old school drawing room. As I sink down into my deep backed leather chair I can almost picture the old tobacco swirling in the air, an old leather bound book in my hand and a century old persian rug beneath my feet. Through it all though there is a lovely little sweetness that is completely unopposing but may be the most beautiful part of the whole experience.
Finish: I just had to try this with a dash of water. The sweetness on the nose headed towards dark marmalade balsamic reduction. The dainty little petit four that I loved at cask strength has blossomed into a full blown over cooked ginger cookie. In the best way possible. The finish just carries on and the lingering effect is the Briny Highland Peat holding steady as it sails to the horizon. With all of this going on it feels like a much, much older whisky than 7 years. Sauterne casks seem to equal much more rapid aging characteristics in Scotland.
On this day in the 4th edition we had another fine dram put together by Stuart Nickerson. The Shetland Reel Batch No. 3 Blended Malt was a cracker.
Please remember to head over to the Whiskey Vault and Scotch Test Dummies. I am literally chafing at the bit to see what they thought of todays dram. I would think today’s dram will be a big winner but as I say all the time everyone has their own palate and there are no right and wrong preferences.
We are now just over half way through the calendar and it is worth mentioning what we have had so far. 5 Speyside Distilleries, 4 Highland Distilleries one of which was heavily peated, 1 Islay and 3 blended malts. Barrels have included Refill Sherry, 1st fill Sherry and both Refill and 1st fill Bourbon and a Sauterne cask. We have had 9 different distillery single casks 2 of which were teaspooned. We have done a distillery comparison and both casks while having some similarities were very different animals. As we head into the back end of the calendar we will go to even more new places and see some much older drams. Stay tuned whisky fans and always try to keep a childlike eagerness and delight in learning more about this amazing drink.
Tomorrow we have another distillery making a first appearance in our calendars. Coming from that amazing independent bottler A.D. Rattray.
Looking forward to seeing you all then.