Friday, 8 February 2013

Whisky Discovery #303

SMWS 21.28 'Relaxing in a tropical garden' 1974 (47.8% abv)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
Not currently available

I came by this sample from The SMWS following a meeting in London. The meeting was not too far away from the Greville Street lounge and I decided it would be good to head over and have my lunch their and catch up with Joe McGirr.

This was one of the four samples I was given, and as far as I can tell, this has not been released, but I'm sure it won't be too long before it will be available.

I've not tried anything from the Glenglassaugh Distillery before and knew nothing about it apart from that it had recently been re-launched. This cask sample would have been distilled by the previous owners and was laid down for around 38 years when this cask sample was drawn. I have no cask data available apart from a cask number, 5374, and this particular sample was drawn on 8th October 2012

A Short History Lesson

The Glenglassaugh Distillery is just outside the Speyside region, close to the small town of Portsoy, Banffshire. The Distillery was established in 1875 by a local entrepreneur James Moir and his two nephews. The site was chosen due to its proximity to the clean and pure water of the Glassaugh Springs, as well as easy access to the nearby barley fields. It was also known locally to have been the site of one of the many illicit distilleries that had operated in the area and which had produced excellent whisky.

In 1892 the company was sold to Highland Distillers and had a chequered history going through a number of closures and re-openings but had been owned by them right up until 2008, despite being mothballed since 1986 until the current owners took over in 2008 and re-established production.

Whisky from Glenglassaugh had traditionally been used in the production of renowned blended whiskies such as Cutty Sark, Laing's, and The Famous Grouse.

So what did I think?

Well I certainly felt very privileged to be tasting this 'liquid history'. This spirit was distilled in 1974, when I was just a lad, and this distillery could quite easily have slipped into oblivion being mothballed just 12 years after this was laid down to mature.

The colour of golden bronze it has a very light and fragrant nose of tropical fruit, sweet, soft papaya, mango and lychee too. There is some honey sweetness, and after some time in the glass more malty notes of granary bread develop. The sweetness evolves and reminded me of the old Fruit Salad chews, four for a penny (an old penny pre-decimalisation!) I also detected something like a light linseed oil note, similar to the smell of artists oil pastels.

It's so smooth and light on the palate with a lemony lime flavour, not a sharp citrus taste, but much more gentle and flavoursome. There's a light watercress spiciness and then the fruit builds, at first crisp apple and pear and then sweetens with a mango and lychee like flavours.

The mango and lychee stays to the very end with a little linseed oil, but leaves a light metallic taste in the mouth, which whilst not totally unpleasant, it was unexpected. I'll be interested to see when this is released by the SMWS to find out cask details and what their tasting panel make of this 1974 vintage.

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