1) The Glenglassaugh malt whisky distillery has been silent for more than half of its lifetime.
So, in 2008 the old Glenglassaugh distillery had worked for only 58 years.
2) The Glenglassaugh distillery has a cast iron mash tun and 6 washbacks, although 2 of them are not connected.
When the new owners took over Glenglassaugh in 2008, the four wooden washbacks were used again, but not the two others (which were made out of stainless steel).
3) Glenglassaugh was built on a piece of property known as "Craig's Mills Farm" or "Craigmills farm".
The name probably refers to two water powered mills and one wind-powered mill on the site. The base of the windmill was still part of the Glenglassaugh distillery complex when the distillery was refurbished in 2008.
4) In 2009 Glenglassaugh started to experiment with the production of (mildly) peated whisky.
5) An earlier version of this profile stated that Glenglassaugh fell silent from 1907 to 1931 and operated again until 1936. However, Managing Director Stuart Nickerson informed me that there has been no actual proof of any
operation in the 1930's. So, the actual situation around Glanglassaugh at the time is debated.
Glenglassaugh NAS 'Fledgling XB' (50%, OB, Hand bottled at distillery, Bottled +/- 2010, 20cl)
Nose: Whoah! Sour and extremely farmy. Oy, oy, oy... Sorrel. Hint of chalk. Sorry, I REALLY don't like this.
Gentian? Vaguely oily. It's hard to analyse it properly because my nose reacted like it's Ammoniac.
Palate: Sweetish but very sharp. Some aniseed? A bit like a cross breed of pernod and grappa.
Score: 46 points - I simply don't like it. If this spirit is any indication, I won't like the new Glenglassaugh whisky.
Glenglassaugh NAS 'Peated' (50%, OB, Hand bottled at distillery, Bottled +/- 2010, 20cl)
Nose: WHOOPS! That's weird… Raw beans. Hint of rubber? Stale beer. Pfff, this must be new make spirit.
A spot right in-between a tub of lard and a pile of sweaty old socks. Sorry, this is just not my cup of tea.
I wouldn't go for more than +/- 15 points for the nose alone at first, although it evolves in a sour direction.
Palate: A little sweet and a little peaty. It tastes MUCH nicer than it smells. But that doesn't mean I LIKE it yet!
Score: 33 points - and I should add that the taste is the redeeming factor that lifts the score just a tad.
Glenglassaugh 1967/2010 'Managers Legacy' (40.4%, OB, 200 Bts.)
Nose: Wow! An explosion of fruits with some leather in the background. The nose alone is worthy of the 90's.
It evolves into a spicier direction. Whiff of rhubarb? Maggi? Perhaps some furniture polish. A real classic.
Palate: Oy... The taste is nice and fruity, but the mouth feel is quite weak. Strong tannins though...
Score: 88 points - and this whisky might have even reached the 90's with a slightly higher proof.
So, old Glenglassaughs are pretty good - but I have to say that their new stuff so far is piss poor...
Glenglassaugh 26yo (46%, OB, Sherry, Pear shaped decanter, Bottled +/- 2010)
Nose: Lovely broad fruity spectrum. Plenty of flowery aspects as well. Sweetness & growing complexity.
Tea? After some breathing more honeyed and "bakery" aroma's emerge. This one needs time to blossom.
Palate: Round, sweet and flowery. On the edge of perfumy, but not disturbingly so. A fair amount of tannins.
Score: 88 points - up one point from my initial score; this one benefits from some breathing.
Glenglassaugh 23yo 1984/2007 (46%, Wilson & Morgan 'Barrel Selection', Butt, C#187)
Nose: Shoe polish. A little musty. Organics. Lovely farmy & fruity profile, but it needs some time to develop.
Palate: Second of weakness, then the woods and fruits power up. Big sweet fruity centre with some toffee.
Hint of smoke. Strong tannins. It needs quite some time to get to 88 points.
Score: 88 points - a strong contender during the Malt Maniacs Awards 2007.
Glenglassaugh 27yo 1978/2006 (56.8%, The Whisky Fair, Artist Edition, 211 Bts.)
Nose: Farmy and fruity - and unusual combination. Salmiak or something salty here as well after a few minutes?
Whiffs of paint now and then. Quite fresh for its age and it keeps changing. Sweetness grows more prominent.
Taste: Quite sweet, solid mouth feel, not too woody. Rubber?
Well, maybe just a smidgen too much wood in the hot, dry finish.
Score: 84 points - but leaning towards 85 or even 86 most of the time.
Glenglassaugh 30yo 1975/2006 (45.6%, DL OMC for Parkers Whisky, REF 2585, D. 09/'75 Btl. 04/'06)
Nose: Light, spicy and very expressive. Passion fruit and a hint of acetone. Growing fruity subtlety.
More citrussy aroma's join the party after a few minutes. Brilliant development of the sweet & sour.
After around half an hour more spicy elements emerge - and even some cheesy and organic elements.
Taste: Loads of passion fruit on the palate as well. Very smooth; almost flowing into perfumy territory.
Gentle, everlasting finish, growing drier in the end. Much more subtle & complex than most 'summer' drams.
Score: 89 points - and that's despite the fact that this comes dangerously close to 'perfumy'.
That's a trait I'm fairly allergic too, but this one pulls it off with flying colours as far as I'm concerned...
Glenglassaugh 38yo 1967/2006 (59.3%, Signatory Vintage, Cask #98/635, 109 Bottles)
Nose: Aaah... Big, rich and honeyed. With a splash of water it grows slightly more serious before dying.
Taste: Phew! Too much at cask strength... Oddly enough, it grows drier with water. This one's dead...
Score: 71 points - the 'blink and you'll miss it malt'. Too hot at cask strength, but drowns with water.
Glenglassaugh 28yo 1976 (51.9%, Dormant Distillery Company, Cask #2376, 279 bottles)
Nose: Sweetish, grainy and a hint of lemon. Quite big; this profile usually comes with more modest malts.
Hint of toffee. Some spices join the party after a minute, developing into organics. Nice development.
Maybe a tad more malty and nutty now. This is a 'natural' malt with enough oemph in the nose to please me.
Taste: Gentle start, quickly developing into a sweet, malty centre. A tad bitter in the finish - too much.
Score: 82 points - a great nose, but a tad too bitter and uneven in the finish to climb further into the 80's.
Glenglassaugh 1973 (40%, Family Silver, Bottled +/- 1999, 70cl)
Nose: Distinguished. Sherried, fruity & sweet. Slightly herbal. Spicy. Butter? A whiff of smoke. Lemon drops!
Taste: Ooof... Sherry & smoke. Soft & sweet. The finish lingers on and on and on. Like Glendronach 15yo.
Score: 86 points - given the friendly price, this one offers excellent value for money.
Glenglassaugh 1986/1998 (40%, MacPhail's Collection, 70cl)
Nose: White wine? String beans. Chicory. Dust. Sweeter & sherried with time. Rum filled chocolate. Shoe polish.
Taste: Soft & smooth start. Sweeter and fruitier with time. Menthol? Flat, bitter centre. Woody and winey.
Score: 80 points - recommendable, but really on the edge. Might have done better at a higher proof.
Glenglassaugh 31yo 1967/1998 (55.8%, Silent Stills, D 6/67, B 6/98, Cask #2893, 217 Bottles)
Nose: Grainy & a little sour. Slightly creamy. Rhubarb? Gooseberries? Medicinal with time. Hint of menthol? Maggi?
Taste: Very odd. No real body. Something smoky? Pine? Something 'historical'. Loses quite a few points here.
Score: 83 points - not bad at all, but then again I would expect something special after three decades.
Glenglassaugh 12yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1992)
Nose: Wow... Shoe polish. Very rich. Hint of leather? Faintest suggestion of fruit in the background.
Taste: Owww... That's too bad. Not quite as interesting as the nose. Short with a bitter finish.
Score: 78 points - I like it just fine (above average), but not quite enough to actively recommend it.
These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glenglassaugh Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Glenglassaugh page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Glenglassaugh expressions that were released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
Glenglassaugh (Pronounced: Glen-GLEAS-̣ch)
Speyside (Deveron) - but some say Highlands
57°40'40.4076 N, 2°44'14.2836 W
Banff, MacDuff / Glen Deveron, Glendronach
Active (re-opened by previous owners in 2008)
Two wells, located circa one kilometre from the distillery
1 Wash, 1 Spirit
1,100,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
The Benriach Distillery Company Ltd. (since 2013)
Portsoy, Banffshire, AB45 25Q, Scotland, UK
Yes (but most were made by previous owners)
Below, on WhiskyFun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor
Scores & tasting notes:
2005 - A 22yo official bottling is released by the owners at the time, the Edrington Group.
2008 - Scaent Group buys the Glenglassaugh distillery and 21yo, 30yo and 40yo bottlings are released.
The distillery is operated through Glenglassaugh Distillery Company.
2009 - Freshly distilled Glenglassaugh whisky is not available yet, but the new owners were able to provide fans with (sort of) an alternative to mature whisky - "The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak Its Name".
2010 - The 21yo OB is replaced with a 26 years old Scottish single malt whisky. Both bottlings were made with old stocks that the new owners purchased from Edrington. At the same time they released some more freshly distilled spirits at (rather preposterous) "premium" prices. This sort of carpetbaggery doesn't bode well for the coming years when the new owners will legally be able to sell their product as mature Scotch whisky.
2013 - The Glenglassaugh Distillery Company is acquired by the Benriach Distillery Company Ltd.
Apparently, the name of the seller was 'Lumiere Holdings' from Amsterdam. I'm not sure if that is an entity of
the Scaent Group or if they had already sold the distillery to a new investor earlier.
In the words of Aussie malt maniac Craig Daniels: "Glenglassaugh was substantially reconstructed and capacity doubled
(through the unusual yet classically utilitarian device of merely doubling the capacity of the existing stills) in between 1957
and 1959 and after the work was completed it was regarded as one of the best designed distilleries in Scotland, although
you'd wonder what the traditionalists would've thought as it was lore that you didn't muck around with the design of your
stills, but maybe the size and configuration of your stills is not considered significant when you're in the bulk malt for
blending market. It is pointless to speculate whether the change in the size of the stills impacted on the profile of the final
spirit as you'd need to have a stack of empirical evidence to hold your ground on any side of the argument."
Between 1960 and 1986 Glenglassaugh produced malt whiskies
for the blending market; their malt whisky was a component in
the Cutty Sark and Famous Grouse blends. However, like almost
two dozen other malt whisky distilleries, Glenglassaugh suffered
from the decline that plagued the Scotch whisky industry in the
early 1980's. Glenglassaugh was mothballed in 1986 as one of
the last distilleries to be affected by the recession. But while some
other distilleries that had been temporarily closed were re-opened
in the 1990's, it seemed like Glenglassaugh was closed for good.
The Glenglassaugh malt whisky was popular with blenders, so
there was no real need to push it as a single malt whisky. As a
result, there have been only four (semi-) official bottlings ever
of Glenglassaugh. Independent bottlings have been fairly scarce
too; in 2009 there were less than 50 bottlings on the MMMonitor.
Most releases from previous owners scored in the upper 80's...
The (semi-) official bottlings were a version without an age statement and a 12 years
old expression that were available in the late 1970's until the early 1990's, a fabulous
'Family Silver' bottling from 1973 (bottled in 1998) and a 19 years old release (bottled
in 2006) - all of them released by Highland Distillers. Independent bottlings have been
released by various independent bottlers, including Cadenhead's, Gordon & MacPhail,
Douglas Laing, Dewar Rattray, Signatory Vintage and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
Since 1986, the owners Edrington Group had no plans for the revival of the distillery.
However, in 2008 Glenglassaugh was purchased by the Scaent Group (an energy
company) for the friendly sum of five million pounds. Ah, and to think you could buy
(or build) a distillery for as little as 10,000 pounds a century ago... In fact, that was
exactly the sum that was required for the construction of Glenglassaugh in 1875.
I'm not sure why the Scaent Group felt like adventuring into the whisky world, but
they refurbished Glenglassaugh and began hiring staff in 2008. Despite the credit
crisis that hit Europe shortly after the acquisition, the brand new managing director
Stuart Nickerson made great progress in getting Glenglassaugh up to steam again.
Because the distillery had been mothballed
more than twenty years ago, a lot of the
original equipment had to be replaced. Equipment like the stills, the malt mill, the grist
case, the mash tun and the washbacks could still be used. However, the boiler, the boiler chimney, the pumps
and the heat exchangers of Glenglassaugh had to be replaced. So, most of the stuff that matters is still original.
Scaent Group managed to obtain modest stocks of mature Glenglassaugh whisky from Edrington.
Thanks to this purchase, the new owners were soon able to offer a 21yo, a 30yo and even a 40yo official bottling.
These bottlings performed quite well - but they were made by another crew using other raw materials and equipment,
so that doesn't say a lot about the style of the malt whisky that is being produced by the new owners.
Because Scotch whisky has to be matured for at least three years (a minimum set by British law), the newly distilled
Glenglassaugh spirit couldn't be sold as 'whisky' until 2011. Nevertheless, the Scaent Group couldn't wait and wanted
to make some money as soon as possible. So, they decided to release the immature product they distilled themselves
already in 2009; "The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak Its Name". Despite the poor quality of the spirit, the new
owners decided to attach some "premium" price tags to it. That doesn't bode well for the quality / price ratio of the
new generation of Glenglassaugh malt whisky - I won't be taking any chances with spending my hard earned money.
On March 22, 2013 Benriach sent a press release about their acquisition of the Glenglassaugh distillery.
Excellent news as far as I'm concerned - When Billy Walker & friends bought Benriach in 2004 they managed to
quickly re-establish the brand and build on that. Their acquisition of Glendronach was another success story.
It's difficult to get precise details about the history of Glenglassaugh - their website is
filled with lots of romantic stories from the early days when the distillery was founded,
but it's very hard to say with any degree of certainty what happened between 1908
(when Glenglassaugh was closed) and the late 1950's when reconstruction began.
Some sources claim that the distillery was revived shortly between 1931 and 1936 but
according to Stuart Nickerson there isn't actually any proof for that. So, the only thing
I'm fairly certain about is the fact that Glenglassaugh started producing malt whisky
again in 1960 after the capacity was doubled by installing a pair of new, larger stills.
This would most likely have had a profound effect on the style of the spirit that was
produced at Glenglassaugh, but after half a century very few people would worry.
But I'm getting ahead of myself now - let's have another look at history.
When the founders built the distillery their idea was to supply bottled
single malt whisky under the label of "James Moir & Alexander Morrison".
However, much of the whisky they produced was sold on for blending
to William Teacher & Sons in Glasgow. After Moir and Wilson had passed
away, Alexander Morrison decided to re-equip the distillery with brand
new stills, washbacks and barley separators between 1887 and 1892.
When William Morrison died in 1892, Alexander first sold the distillery
to Robertson & Baxter, who then sold it on in the same year to the
Highland Distilleries Co. Ltd. for GBP 15,000. After the new owners
took over the production rose to 110,000 gallons by 1898. However,
production decreased again after the end of 'the whisky boom'.
Getting the Glenglassaugh distillery up and running for the first time required an investment of circa
GBP 10,000. That seems like a modest amount, especially if one compares it to the GBP 5,000,000 that
was required a little over a century later when the Scaent Group (an energy company from abroad)
bought the mothballed distillery from the Edrington Group in 2008. In fact, refurbishing the distillery that
hadn't been used since 1986 cost another two million pounds. The new owners of Glenglassaugh could
buy some old stocks, but mostly they had to start again from scratch.
Glenglassaugh is a 'coastal' distillery, founded in 1875 and
located on the north coast of Speyside near Glen Deveron
and Banff. The rivers Spey and Deveron flow into the North
Sea nearby. One of the most remarkable characteristics of
the Glenglassaugh whisky distillery is probably the fact that
it has been silent for more than half of its life.
Construction of the Glenglassaugh distillery began in 1873
on Craig Mills farm and was finished in 1875. It was built by
the Glenglassaugh Distillery Company, which was owned
by local wine & spirit merchant James Moir. He started a
partnership to make whisky with local coppersmith Thomas
Wilson and his nephews Alexander and William Morrison.
Is the distillery or