Category Archives: Glenglassaugh

Two of the best “Thirty-Somethings” I’ve had in 2011 – One is a 35yo Glenglassaugh and the other a 37yo Glen Grant

Before the year is out, I wanted to make sure that I post up my reviews of two of my favorite whiskies I tasted this year.  Both are in their thirties and are from a single ex-sherry cask.  The Glen Grant was bottled by Duncan Taylor back in 2007 and the Glenglassaugh is an OB and is the first in a new set of releases entitled: “The Chosen Few“.

The first bottle in "The Chosen Few" series - Ronnie chose a damn fine cask of whisky - 35yo Sherry cask

You might my mentioning a little detail about Glenglassaugh’s “The Chosen Few” series a little while back.  As a reminder (and so as to toot my own horn):

When looking to name this series of single cask bottlings, Ronnie Routledge posted a contest on the Friends of Glenglassaugh Facebook page looking for a name for the range and yours truly (that’s me, Joshua Hatton, by the way) picked the winning name:  The Chosen Few.

Even if I hadn’t had the winning name I still would have chosen this whisky as one of my favorites for 2011:

Glenglassaugh – Highland region – The Chosen Few – Ronnie Routledge – 49.6%ABV£290 | $450

On the nose  There’s a good mix of interesting things going on in here.  A wood paneled pantry full of powdered sweets on a hot and humid summer’s day.

Lemony sugared pinwheels (or perhaps candied lemons – I love finding this note; you should try one sometime) as well as bruised, or perhaps, overripe peaches.

Tinned pineapple, walnut shells and huge notes of juicy mango.  More tropical that I expected.

Some wisps of smoke in the background (??).

My grandparent’s afghan from their finished basement storage somewhere around 1984.

You can smell the age here but it doesn’t smell old or tired in anyway.  All of those candied notes balance off the wood panel & stored afghan scents I got (which are not bad notes at all.  Left unbalanced by the sweetness well, then it’d be a different story…).  Lovely nose.

On the mouth Fantastic attack with a great combination of youthful fizziness (a seeming effervescence) and a strong sweetness (light fruit compote) without being cloying in anyway.

Licorice and spiced dried fruit pastries.  This is yummy,yummy, yummy stuff!!

A second sip in and I notice that the tannins kick in pretty quickly but that dryness is accompanied by some of those powder sugar candies I got on the nose (as Spock would say, Fascinating).

Finish Spicy and long on the finish.  Wow, really long with notes of spiced berries and even some cranberry/ginger relish in there.

In sum  Complex, intriguing and so very balanced.  Ronnie Routledge chose insanely well.  I was so sad to see my sample go.  I took my sweet time with it.  If you have the funds, I suggest you pick up a bottle and start exploring.

Special thanks goes out to Iain over at for the sample.  You can read his thoughts on this fine whisky right here (you’ll see that he LOVED it too).


Glen Grant – Speyside region – 51.5%ABV – Duncan Taylor Cask # 3480 1970/2007$299

On the nose Forceful nose; like a high school senior boy after the prom.

Giving this just a little time to air out will make a difference, methinks.

Bitter cherries, cherry skins & stones/pits, prunes and potpourri.

Floral and bitter and deep inside notes of heated, over-cinnamoned apple sauce.

Oak furniture, fresh potting soil and party balloons.

A nicely sherried nose showing depth and age but I’m afraid that all of those bitter notes will prove over oaken on the palate.  Let’s see…

On the mouth I LOVE it when I’m wrong!  All sorts going on in here but let’s start off with the fact that this has a a nice oily mouthfeel from the outset.   Yes, it gets a bit dry but nowhere near as dry and oaky as I expected.  Thank G-d!

Now, on with the flavor:  Cherry Cola, honey reduction, Sweet cherry pie filling (minus the pie crust), the taste of the smell of potpourri, baked pear and solid rolled cinnamon bark.

No sign of sulphur, match sticks in this one.

Holiday brown bread and boozy raisins, walnuts and some dark chocolates.

Finish Long, spiced, really long… warming and soothing, oak and warmed butter biscuits.

In sum A fantastic single cask of whisky! This one surprised me.  I was truly expecting an over oaken old fuddy-duddy but no.  There’s a ton of personality and balance in here.  A well chosen cask!

Special thanks goes out to Mike W for the sample!!

Sharing is caring – Glenglassaugh’s “The First Cask”

Highland region – 59.1% ABV – £90 – Distillery only bottling (though available through the distillery’s online store until it’s sold out) – 650 bottles.

Who does this?  Who reopens a distillery, gets it’s up and running (a long & difficult process), fills the first cask, and then instead of holding that cask for years and years to make major beau coup bucks/quid say… 18-30 years from now, he releases the whisky only three years into maturation.

Stuart Nickerson does, that’s who.

And while, truth be told, I initially thought the idea was a crazy one… I think the move did a really great job of saying “Thank You!” to all of us who have been supporting the distillery and waiting with baited breath for it to release its first whisky in about twenty-five years.

Thank you, Mr. Nickerson, for releasing Glenglassaugh’s first baby.

While the move to release the First Cask might have been a maverick one I would submit, too, that the make up of the cask is also a maverick move.  The “First Cask” is not just whisky that’s stayed in that single cask for 3 years to then be bottled.  No.  Instead, Mr. Nickerson concocted an interesting maturation recipe to help give this whisky its unusual flavor profile.  Here is the description straight from the distillery itself:

“The very first cask, a refill butt, that was filled on that “first cask filling day in 2008” was emptied and refilled into 2 smaller casks on the 16th December 2010. These smaller casks were a first fill ex-Pedro Ximenez (PX) sherry hogshead and a first-fill ex-Palo Cortado sherry hogshead. On the 16th September 2011 the whiskies were returned from these two casks into the original butt and are now marrying  for a period of exactly three months.”

That’s quite a journey in such a short period of time for this first distillate to be matured!  What it has done to the whisky is even more interesting…

On the nose –  Massive, massive waves of fruit and mostly of the tinned variety with a fairly clear focus on the halved cherries and the heavy syrup those fruits swim about in.

What seems to be evident is the natural fruitiness of the Glenglassaugh spirit is being amplified with the unusual choice of casks and maturation.

Pickled walnuts and perfumed tobacco leaves/cigars.

Yeah… all of the scents are, for lack of a better term, “chunked up” (and made moreish), I think, by the casking journey of the whisky.

On the mouth  Vanilla cream soda and orange drink powder.

Sweet and fruity and now we’re back to those tinned fruits…

Clementine, cherries and papaya…  Puckering stuff.

Slightly oily yet quick to an effervescence and then over to a drying quality with ever increasing spice and powerful sweetness.

Tobacco floats over the tongue as do young mangoes.

Finish Pickled walnuts (again), long and effervescent still.

In sum So. Very. Drinkable.  Restraint is needed; it’s right up my alley.

Yes, this is young stuff but it’s got a depth beyond its 3 years.  So nice to see that the spirit quality shines through yet the wood influence (three different types of sherry influence) is so strong that it makes you think this is an older dram than what’s in your glass.  If you have a bottle or can get a bottle (they will ship to the USA, btw)… drink the stuff.  Yes, it’s the first cask from the new ownership but it was shared for a reason – to enjoy; not to lie dormant.

Other thoughts on the First Cask from Glenglassaugh:

Iain over at seems to have enjoyed it.

Jason at clearly finds the stuff as drinkable as I do.

The start of Glenglassaugh’s new limited range “The Chosen Few” is launched!

Regular readers of the blog know that I rarely post press releases.  Sadly, for me, there are too many of them and too little time.  Maybe someday I’ll figure out a way to release more industry news but, until then, I will post when I can and will try to focus on the ones I find would be most striking to my audience (or to me).

Why am I posting this one about Glenglassaugh’s “The Chosen Few” range?  Well:

A) I love Glenglassaugh, that’s no secret.

B) I had the privilege and honor of interviewing Glenglassaugh’s Managing Director, Stuart Nickerson (a great guy, by the way).

The first bottle in "The Chosen Few" series - Ronnie chose a damn fine cask of whisky - 35yo Sherry cask. That's me and Ronnie (left and right, respectively) from the most recent JSMWS tour of Scotland.

C) When looking to name this series of single cask bottlings, Ronnie Routledge posted a contest on the Friends of Glenglassaugh Facebook page looking for a name for the series and yours truly (that’s me, Joshua Hatton, by the way) picked the winning name:  The Chosen Few.

So, as you can see, I have a personal attachment to this story.

Now, without further ado or adon’t, Glenglassaugh’s “The Chosen Few” (plus details on the Glenglassaugh visitor center refurbishment):


Glenglassaugh Distillery, Portsoy.  25 August 2011.

•    Glenglassaugh distillery’s “Chosen Few” launches
•    Visitor centre refurbishment under way

Glenglassaugh distillery at Portsoy on the picturesque Moray firth coast proudly announce the release of the first bottling from their “Chosen Few” series of single cask expressions. The Chosen Few series, explains Ronnie Routledge, Customer Account Manager for Glenglassaugh, allowed our team, based here at the distillery, the opportunity to sample various casks from our small portfolio to discover his or her favourite cask of Glenglassaugh Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky and get the once-in-a-lifetime experience of having it bottled with their own name on the label.

The team of ten have each given an indication of which whisky they would like to bottle and we will release these over the next 2 – 3 years. Some of them are carefully watching casks of spirit which we distilled and laid down after re-opening the distillery in November 2008 and anxiously wait for them to mature into whisky, while others prefer the greatly aged Glenglassaugh whiskies. “I was very privileged to be asked to choose the first release which is one of the finest single malts I have ever tasted and I’ve tried an awful lot”, says Routledge who is well known in the whisky industry, is a “Keeper of the Quaich” and ex whisky judge. “This particular expression delivers everything I look for in well-balanced single malts: complexity, depth, tropical fruit in abundance, chocolate and good sherry character, balanced perfectly with oak spice”.

Stuart and Ronnie - proudly showing off the first bottle in "The Chosen Few" series

This very limited expression of only 654 bottles is from a 1976 vintage sherry butt, bottled at 35 years old at a natural strength of 49.6% abv and is available through all good whisky stockists with a RRP of £299.99. “It was quite an honour and privilege to be presented with bottle number # 2 from the release, it almost felt like a lifetime achievement award” said Routledge.

The team at Glenglassaugh are also busy renovating their new dedicated visitor centre which they are determined to open before the end of 2011 to coincide with the release of their very first single malt, distilled since the new owners took over in 2008 after a closed spell of 22 years. “Distillery tours at the moment are by appointment only so it will be great to have proper facilities in place for the many visitors who make a pilgrimage to Glenglassaugh and expand on what we are currently offering”, explains Stuart Nickerson, MD for Glenglassaugh distillery. “The Banffshire region as a whole will benefit from Glenglassaugh’s visitor centre and attract thousands of tourists into the area each year”.

Glenglassaugh has a range of whisky available from 26 years of age to a 45 year old and more information on these and how to purchase them as well as your very own 50 litre Octave cask can be found on the distillery website

The company also has a range of Spirit Drinks and more information on these can be found on


Update by the JSMWS:  You can find the first bottle of The Chosen Few HERE and HERE (to be released in September sometime).

The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society hosts a VIP distillery tour of Scotland (August 12 – 19, 2011) with a Jewish twist!

Have you ever wanted to do a whisky tour of Scotland?  A VIP whisky tour of Scotland?  Perhaps (if you’re Jewish) you wanted to experience Shabbat in Scotland and maybe do kiddush over a fine single malt.  Well, this tour is for you!

Here are the details at a glance (As of May 23rd, 2011, there are only 2 seats left):

Fly into Glasgow on August 12th for an 8 day Whisky tour of Scotland with a Jewish Twist.
VIP tours and stops at the following distilleries:
  • Arran
  • Ardbeg
  • Balvenie
  • Bowmore
  • Glenglassaugh
  • Glenmorangie
  • Lagavulin
  • Laphroaig (this is not a tour but a stop at the shop & distillery)
  • Talisker
  • Plus many more surprises!

What the JSMWS will take care of:

  • Accommodation for 8 nights
  • Breakfast each morning
  • All the driving
  • Shabbatot in Glasgow at the reform synagogue (though you’re more than welcome, if you’re not Jewish and prefer not to attend services, we understand)
  • Ferry to/from Arran & Islay
  • VIP tours of several whisky distilleries (as listed above)
  • Kosher requirements
  • The entire whisky experience

All you have to take care of:

  • Flights to/from Glasgow
  • Lunch & evening meals
  • Personal purchases
  • Having a wonderful time

This 8-person, 7 day (or 8 days if you choose to stay for the Glenrothes tour which was recently added to the agenda yet not on the PDF brochure linked here and below).  Whisky tour of Scotland costs $2500 per person and is based on two people sharing accommodation.  As of May 23rd, 2011, there are only 2 seats left.

Click the image below for a more detailed brochure.

Glenglassaugh Cask Ownership program

One of the questions we’ve been asked most often this week has been “what’s the point of drinking new make spirit?”  Well, it’s a great way to better understand the evolution of a whisky from still to cask to bottle.  “But you don’t get to follow a single distillation,” says you, “you’re just getting an approximation of distillery style.”  Well, aren’t you a smarty pants!  If you’re one of the many readers who has been thinking along these lines this week we’ve got great news for you.  The very best way to enjoy the development of spirit is to regularly taste from a single cask.  If you’re Gerry Tosh or Richard Paterson you get to do this whenever you like.  If you’re Jason or Josh, not so much.  So we’re both very excited to say that we’re now shareholders in a single cask of Glenglassaugh.  We get to visit the cask whenever we want and every year, on the anniversary of the filling of the cask, we receive a small sample of the spirit in order to chart its progress.  We could even have visited the distillery and filled the cask ourselves before returning in the future to bottle it, too.  Doesn’t that just sound like a lot of fun?

Our little darling !

A few months ago our two respective societies (The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society and the Single Malt Whisky Society of the Palouse) bought a Glenglassaugh Octave: 50 liters of new spirit aged in a smaller than normal cask (think along the lines of Laphroaig’s Quarter Casks) for between 3 and 7 years.  Because of the smaller cask size the spirit is expected to mature quicker than spirit held in the larger casks.  We had a choice of peated or unpeated spirit and, being the chaps we are, chose the peated version.  As mentioned in our Peated Spirit Drink reviews the barley is peated to 30ppm.

The Octave of peated spirit cost us $900, including storage.  Split among 20 shares, our members (and a good friend of both blogs, Gal Granov of Whisky Israel) were able to invest $45 for at least three bottles of aged Glenglassaugh (the final tally of bottles will depend on the strength at which we bottle from the cask!).  We then need to bottle the whisky, pay duty on it and ship our bottles to the US.  It’s our hope that all of that will cost our shareholders another $45 or so.  If all goes according to plan, the hardest part might be designing our own label!

If this is the type of thing that interests you, and you have a group likely to have fun with an investment of this sort (don’t expect to make money, do it just for the fun of it and for the opportunity to follow the evolution of a single cask of spirit), then we recommend looking into it further.  Details and relevant forms can be found here.

And if you find yourself visiting your cask at the distillery one day please take the time to say hello to the JEWMALT/SMWSP Octave…


Joshua & Jason