Minis – Glengassaugh Torfa 50%

This particular peated Glenglassaugh and I had a rather unpleasant 1st experience two years ago…. hence I deliberately decided to keep an open mind to try again and see – better, ok or gasp! worse??

What did we think of the Glenglassaugh Torfa 50%?

  • Nose – Smoke – quite acrid then more ash, cured meat, salty, sour, dish rag
  • Palate – Sweet, oily, a bit chewy, then peat, a little cinnamon spice slipped in and it became increasingly sweet
  • Finish – Like chewing on a cinnamon stick, dry, peat

As we found Evolution benefited from being set aside and revisiting, we did the same with the Torfa. All we got was peat, sweet and spice.

In principal I like the idea of having a nearly cask strength whisky i.e. 50%. I also enjoy a good peated whisky too.

And.. at least this time I didn’t get cleaning solvent as I did back in 2015!!

Perhaps I need to wait another 2 years… or more… and see what these folks come up with.

However, for now, while happy to revisit and certainly not the disaster I remember from two years ago, it simply isn’t my kinda dram and I’m not going to be running out to buy anything from Glenglassaugh anytime soon.

What do the folks over at Glenglassaugh have to say?

At Glenglassaugh, in addition to the traditional production, we also produce a very limited quantity of whisky using richly peated malted barley as the cereal varietal. The malted barley has been dried in the traditional way, over peat infused kilns, giving the whisky its unique smoky flavour. Glenglassaugh ‘Torfa’, with its peaty, phenolic nature, is a unique expression, and is quite different to the usual style of whisky produced in the Highlands.

  • Colour: Gleaming yellow gold.
  • Nose: Vivid, sweet, sooty campfire smoke and sea air infuses zest of lime, apricot jam and ripe soft fruits; all gently warmed by hints of stem ginger and cracked black pepper.
  • Palate: An eloquent, sweet coastal peat smoke engulfs candied peel over melon, pineapple and roasted red apples. Oat biscuits, hints of heather honey and a gentle cigar box spice all combine to give a terrific balance to the expressive smoky character.
  • Finish: A heady, yet elegant, harmony of distinct coastal peat and striking spiced fruit flavours.

What else did we try in our miniatures session?

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Minis – Glenglassaugh Evolution 50%

What happens if a distillery was founded (1875), closed (1908), re-vamped and re-opened to be used in blends (1960), completely mothballed (1986) then opened again (2008), release into the market spirits immediately and then manages to be sold (2013)?

Welcome to Glenglassaugh’s illustrious past of operating only approx 1/3 of its history! However there is hope since BenRiach Distillery Company took over – a most respectable brand along with its other distillery GlenDronach. With Rachel Barrie more recently being added to the equation, let’s see what happens next!

However for now… we have two NAS expressions to sample – Evolution and Torfa – both bottled at a bold 50%.

What did we think?

  • Nose – Initially sour curd, wet cereals, old banana, musty & dusty, soaked oats, even in the sweet there is a little sour like sour mash, a bit grassy, porridge with honey
  • Palate – Dry, light spice, bitter yet sour
  • Finish – Bitter
  • Water – Add a dash and we were ‘rewarded’ with rotten fruit

We began to joke it was like having a great mouth disinfectant. Not something you would choose to sip but maybe swish around for the medicinal benefits.

Had we not left it alone to breath, would have overall been rather scathing with this one.

However our revisit was interesting – salty caramel, toffee & fudge – sweet and much less bitter than earlier. There was also a sharp tingle on the nose like industrial metallic. Still not great but it managed to redeem itself a little.

What do the folks over at Glenglassaugh have to say?

Glenglassaugh Evolution is created by maturing the whisky in a unique combination of the finest hand-picked ex-Tennessee first-fill whiskey barrels. This expression shows great depth of character and finesse, a harmonious combination of whisky and oak. Bottled at 50%, natural colour and non chill filtered, Evolution represents the heart of Glenglassaugh’s distinctive personality, and indeed the landscape in which it is set.

  • Colour: Crisp harvest gold.
  • Nose: A luscious syrupy combination of sweet barley, delicate pineapple and waves of soft buttery vanilla. Deeper oak spices and caramelised pear develop and warm the nose.
  • Palate: Robust, white peppery oak floods through crisp green apple and freshly cracked barley. A gentle salted caramel emerges alongside hints of ripe banana and fruit salad syrup.
  • Finish: A vibrant combination of classic oak spices and delicate soft fruits surrounded by fragrant waves of vanilla pod.

Sorry… rewind? Seriously? Were we having the same whisky?? “Depth of character and finesse”??? Had we not given it considerable time to breath, we would have missed the salty caramel… however it is hard not to be cynical reading the marketing speak.

All I can say is this – I hope for better in a few years. Much better.

What else did we try in our miniatures session?

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Minis – Glenglassaugh Evolution + Torfa, Inchmurrin

After a few months hiatus, our miniatures sessions are back!

This time we decided to explore a revived discontinued distillery (Glenglassaugh) and a whisky my cohort couldn’t resist… having grown up with Tintin tales of Loch Lomond whisky (Inchmurrin)…

For my part, I was keen to revisit a freshly opened bottle of the Torfa, having had a rather negative 1st experience a few years ago at Quaich in Singapore. And was equally curious what else Glenglassaugh had to offer. As for Inchmurrin? I had no pre-conceived notions… however found our tryst with Pendryn’s Madeira sufficiently interesting to be curious to compare.

The minis were followed by Royal Brackla 16 year 40%… just because it was already open and I hadn’t tried it yet… a most acceptable justification! Turned out to be a great food accompaniment.

Other miniatures sessions:

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Glenglassaugh Torfa NAS 50%

I’m all for experiments. I’m also not averse to trying younger variants and have found some promising young bucks out there!

When I shared that I had already traipsed through most of the suggested whisky sample sets at Quaich bar in Singapore, the Glenglassaugh Torfa was recommended. I thought why not?

However just because something is ‘new’ (or in this case ‘re-new‘) or ‘different’ doesn’t necessarily make it ‘good’…

Glenglassaugh Torfa (Whisky Lady)

Glenglassaugh Torfa (Whisky Lady)

  • Nose – Overripe fruit, peat, grass… as it continued to breathe, could identify some gingery orange citrus. After sipping, the nose took on a sour curd note with a hint of jackfruit
  • Palate – Sharp, bitter, almost like diesel, young, brash and not balanced. My fellow sampler identified something akin to cleaning solvent. As soon as she said this, I couldn’t help but agree and then couldn’t get past this element either…
  • Finish – Smoke, but nothing significant and quickly dissipated
  • 1st impression – Disappointing

As the 2nd whisky we sampled (Hazelburn 12 year) was simply so much more to both our tastes, we left the Torfa alone for some time. We found it mellowed out a bit yet still retained the overall young attitude.

So we decided to see what happens when we added water…

  • On the nose, it shifted into overripe fruit, salty (almost like salted popcorn)
  • On the palate, became smoother, then some spice and finally light leather in the finish

As my companion put it

“Kinda like a hip hop dude who realised he needed to drop the attitude and be a bit more real.”

Certainly the drops of water helped, however the Torfa still feels like it has been pulled out of the maturation process too soon. I wonder if that is also the case with the other Glenglassaugh expressions – Revival and Evolution?

Of the three, Torfa is their ‘richly peated’ expression and my issue isn’t with the peat, it is the lack of balance.

However, in fairness, I should share that we have no idea how long this bottle lay open with Quaich and whether that had an impact, dulling other elements. The official tasting notes speak of melon, pineapple and roasted red apples on the palate – we discovered nothing of the sort! And when I checked the reviews from folks whose opinions I’ve found reliable, they seemed to have a different experience.

Bottom line – would we buy? Nope. In fact, we didn’t even finish our dram.

If this experience is any indication (which it may not be), one has to wonder if the investors for Glenglassaugh are simply being too impatient. The Speyside distillery only re-started production in 2008 and has already pumped out a trio of whisky expressions plus a few experiments like “The Spirit Drink that dare not speak its name” which is one mash of malted barley, fermented and distilled twice then bottled without ageing and “The Spirit Drink that blushes to speak its name” which is produced in the same way then aged 6 months in California red wine casks.

Now, if the Glenglassaugh folks had the advantage (or disadvantage) of a hot climate like India, perhaps one can understand releasing expressions after limited time… however in Scotland? Me thinks a wee bit more patience is in order!

What others say:

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