Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
If you are a whiskey/whisky enthusiast, at some point you’ve probably searched for a unique bottle only for the quest to end in abject failure. Whether due to absurd unavailability of some bourbons (I’m looking at you Buffalo Trace) or distribution issues as seen during the pandemic, this can be incredibly frustrating. However, I think it is important to be mindful that while some bottles have become extremely rare, we are actually living in a golden age of whiskey/whisky. There are more options, more investment, and innovation occurring in the industry than ever before.
For instance, the industry is projected to grow substantially in the coming future and over the globe and huge investments are being made by spirits companies to expand existing operations or open new distilleries, as companies seek to fuel the whiskey/whisky boom.
This brings me to today’s review of Glenglassaugh’s limited edition 46-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Obviously, the opportunities to drink something this rare and older than I am are few and far between, exacerbated by the increasing shortage of old and rare single malts (and my aging). Glenglassaugh is a Highland Scotch distillery set on the northeastern coastline of Scotland, just outside the Speyside region. It has a tragic history, closing numerous times over the years. First opened in 1875, the distillery closed in 1907 due to a downturn in the whisky industry, reopening in 1959.
Eventually, it became apparent Glenglassaugh whisky was not a great blending whisky due to its unique character. After closing in 1986, the distillery opened again in 2008 and has since established several core whiskies, but is better known for their 30+ year expressions which were distilled between 1959-1986.
While many important figures contributed to creating the 46-year-old whisky, Dr. Rachel Barrie is the person ultimately responsible for it. A master blender at BenRiach, GlenDronach, and Glenglassaugh, Dr. Barrie has over 30 years of experience, and was recently inducted as a Keeper of the Quaich, one of the highest honors of the Scotch world. In speaking about the art of blending, Dr. Barrie said there are often more questions than answers. “It’s all about exploration and is a highly iterative process, kind of like a maze, where there is no right or wrong path, just many twists and turns leading to the golden prize at the centre.”
The Glenglassaugh 46-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky itself she describes as: “on the nose, luscious mango, plum, cherry and black currant unite with polished oak, and red grape to bring a seductive aroma of ambergris, while the palate presents an exquisite overture of the rolling coastal waves of tropical fruit, cherry, black currant and mango on a breeze of cooling menthol and grapefruit.”
Personally, I found the whisky to be subtle and cool, with a muted intensity that allows the consumer to parse through the many flavors. Bristling with complexity, the tug and pull between light citrus, berries, and wood flavors was a pleasantly meandering journey when compared to other Scotches I enjoy. While I could not detect the bourbon barrel notes outside the presence of a quite a bit of oak, the most interesting flavor was the consistent marine flavor, something I suspect is part of that unique Glenglassaugh character.
If you find yourself so lucky to try this whisky, find a quiet place to truly appreciate the experience as the true zenith of this whisky is not evident without focus. If you’re really adventurous, listen to Duel of the Fates by John Williams at the same time. Trust me, it’s great.
Tasting Notes: Glenglassaugh 46-Year-Old
Vital Stats: 46 years old. Aged in a bourbon cask. 83.4 proof (41.7% ABV). $160/700ml.
Appearance: Light brown with a splash of a reddish and pale pink hue.
Nose: At first, lush green apples mix with light-cedar, with light tobacco, citrus fruit and marionberry taking over. Marine salinity persists throughout.
Palate: Light drops of sweet cherry and blackberries immediately splash on the palate, while a river of soothing oak develops with thick orange and iodine. Leather features toward the end, with a hint of soft strawberry and a sandalwood backbone on the finish.
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