One of the best things about a good Whisky Festival or very well stocked bar is an opportunity to try something that ordinarily you would never be able to buy on your own… That is exactly why at Berlin’s Union Jack we shared a very clear brief – we wanted to end our evening with something truly exceptional and rare. Our preference was a discontinued distillery – something that we would otherwise never ever have a chance to experience….
My tasting companion mentioned interest in a Port Ellen however we were open to anything. Our whisky guide for the evening consulted the Union Jack owner and came up with a remarkable short-list: Rosebank 25 year, Glen Ord 1975, Brora 27 year (2015), Macallan-Glenlivet 1968/1983 (Berry Bros)… to which we also added the Glenglassaugh 40 year (1965), which my eye had spotted as soon as we walked in the door… A light sniff of each bottle made the choice very clear…
Obviously you can tell which one we selected!
We had earlier discussed the Glenglassaugh distillery and how challenging it is to have stock of remarkable old vintage whiskies produced before its closure vs a young upstart that was – frankly speaking – initially bottled before it was ready. I shared how malt maniac Krishna Nakula was so enthusiastic about the “old” and had once shared a sample of the “new” make spirit from the re-start.
For those not familiar, Glenglassaugh followed the path of many a Scottish distillery. Founded in 1875 until its closure in 1986. It was re-opened in 2008 and had a wee bit of a rocky re-start however understand it is getting its game together and was joined a few years ago by master blender Rachel Barrie.
However enough pre-amble… what matters most is what we discovered!
Glenglassaugh 40 year (1965) 47.8% (Murray McDavid Mission) Bottle 084/411
- Nose – Simply superb, berries mashed and fresh, nuanced, like an Eaton mess – full of crunchy mirage, berries and cream, an antique quality opening up further to reveal a hint of coffee richness, a fruity compote, red liquorice, red candies
- Palate – Exquisite, soft yet big, silky smooth, full flavoured yet elegant, more of that hint of coffee, so balanced with a curl of smoke sneaking up from behind, chocolate coffee cream
- Finish – Gorgeous – such a long fruity fabulous finish
Having the great fortune of sampling a few venerable, I was poised for something a bit shy… instead this was an absolute delight. Classic and yet still full and flavourful, not a single off note instead it was pure indulgence.
There was such sophistication – from bursting berries to that hint of smoke… it was simply outstanding and well worth choosing as our grand finale.
What more do we know? The label shares it was matured in Sherry and Rivesaltes Casks. I’ll admit I had to look up “Rivesaltes” to find it is a sweet wine made from red or white grapes from the Languedoc region of France. Like sherry, it is a fortified wine of which there are several variations using Grenache, Muscat, Malvoisie with styles ranging from amber, garnet, tuilé or rosé. I will certainly keep my eye out for “Rivesaltes” in future as it clearly did great things for this particular whisky along with the Sherry cask.
The best quote of the evening came from our guide?
“I just cry that they don’t make whisky like this anymore.”
To put into perspective, the average value of this bottle in auctions is approx € 1755 though likely impossible to find now. As for us? It set us back a hefty EUR 80 for a glass however we both felt privileged to have had an opportunity to try.
Before this “penultimate” dram, we had explored three sets of “pairings” which included:
- Benromach 15 year 43% vs Cragganmore Distillers Edition (2008/2020) 40%
- Tobermory 20 years (1996/2016) 58.8% (The Alambic Classique Collection) vs Bunnahabhain 25 years (2016) 47.7% (Wiebers Brothers)
- Scotch Malt Whisky Society Glenfarclas 1.208 “Long Conversations by the crackling log fire” (1997) 54.3% vs Glenlossie 46.74 “Orchard perambulations” (1997) 54.4%
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