On the Moray coastline in the northeast of Scotland, the Glenglassaugh distillery sits on a grassed and arable landscape. Its name means the valley of the grey-green place. Nearby Sandend Bay is popular with nature lovers and surfers alike. Glenglassaugh’s coat of arms features barley, whiskey stills and gannets – the latter referring to the seaside location. It’s Latin wording, per mare per terras, means by sea and by land. Indeed, centuries ago, the taxman might not have been aware of the occasional boat departing from the adjacent shores, smuggling illicit alcohol.
Because the distillery straddles the border between Speyside and the Highlands, its whiskies combine taste characteristics from both locations. Significantly, the coastal warehouse is open to the bracing North Sea air, giving their single malt scotches a distinct finish.
Experienced master blender
In 2017, the forward-thinking owners appointed a new master blender, Rachel Barrie, well versed in creating high-quality single malt scotch whiskies. During her time in the group, Ms Barrie has been instrumental in overseeing the introduction of limited vintages.
Impressively, the newest creation aged for five decades in a Pedro Ximenez sherry cask. Bottled at an alcohol concentration of 40.5 per cent by volume, the fine liquor is of natural cask colour, with the darkness of manuka honey.
After a long wait, the short bottling run extended to 264 bottles, each presented for sale in a lavishly finished box. Given the producer’s prestige and excellent reputation, it seems unlikely that the price tag of £5,500 will deter discerning devotees, collectors and investors.
Tasters report that this rare edition has a rolling and seductive effect on the palate. The bouquet combines almonds and blackberries with figs and spice. On the tongue, the spirit’s sweet notes give a delicious balance between cherries, mango and papaya.
Experienced tasters have spoken of sensations of tropical layers in symphony with ocean breezes and rolling waves. Finally, the finish reveals flavours of refined mellow oak and caramelised pear.
Nineteenth century beginnings
The Glenglassaugh first opened in 1875, founded by Colonel James Moir, who ran the establishment with two nephews. However, like several other scotch producers, the distillery closed in 1907 due to a downturn in the industry.
More than two decades later, it reopened and went from strength to strength. Then, in the 1960s, the premises underwent a rebuild and modernisation. This new release of fifty-year-old whisky, therefore, dates back to that period.
Between 1986 and 2008, the distillery became dormant, mothballed until a group of investors saw its value and decided to revive it. Production started again and five years later, in 2013, the business changed hands as the BenRiach distillery company took over. The new owners sought to develop its potential while retaining a skilled team, handcrafting techniques and usage of the finest casks.
In 2016, Kentucky-based bourbon producers Brown-Forman acquired the Glendronach and BenRiach distilleries, including Glenglassaugh. Brown Forman’s corporate portfolio also includes the Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester brands.
A new chapter
In a video released this summer (2021), distillery staff discuss the privilege of tasting this premium whisky with other experts. After describing its quality, they point to how the half-century-old vintage marks the beginning of a new era for the Glenglassaugh.
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