We already tried on these pages a Glenglassaugh, but one that was independently bottled, during one of the several Whisky Cellar Tweet Tastings I was able to attend. It’s time to see and learn a bit more about this distillery, by trying their core range. Well, the recent liquid part of the core range, as you’ll learn why below. So let’s have a quick look of the distillery’s history, then we’ll try the Glenglassaugh Revival, Evolution and Torfa expressions.
Born during the late-Victorian era, Glenglassaugh distillery was built in 1874 by local businessman James Moir. It became part of Highland Distillers 18 years later. Despite a long closure from 1907, it reopened in 1960 due to a market upswing. The distillery’s individuality made it difficult to blend, and it was considered surplus when the whisky industry was rationalising estates in the early 1980s. Thus, it was mothballed once again in 1986. However, unexpectedly, it reopened in 2008 after being purchased by Russian-financed company Scaent Group, and was later acquired by BenRiach Distillery Co. in 2013. Although there is a gap in the stock, the distillery cleverly balances old and new bottlings. Brown-Forman, the producer of Jack Daniel’s, bought Glenglassaugh, Benriach, and Glendronach in 2016.
Glenglassaugh’s core range is made of Revival, Evolution and Torfa, all using whisky distilled since its reopening, as well as 30, 40- and 51-year-old expressions, using whisky from its previous era. In addition to those, we can find some limited expressions and single casks being released.
Glenglassaugh Revival Review
The Glenglassaugh Revival has been matured in American red wine casks and ex-Tennessee bourbon casks, then finished in sherry casks. This is a non-age statement whisky, but the age of the current product is around 7 to 9 years old. It’s bottled at 46% ABV without chill filtration nor colouring. Expect to pay less than £40 in the UK for a bottle, and from €40 in France for instance.
Neat: The nose has a subtle wine-like feeling, accompanied by hints of plums, orange, green apple, and a touch of rhubarb. There are also floral tones, along with notes of wood spices, honey, and caramel.
With water: When a little water is added, the scent leans towards orange, and the wine-like notes become more subdued.
Neat: The palate showcases a much stronger wine-like character than the nose. It carries a slightly tannic taste, reminiscent of the sediment found at the bottom of a bottle of red wine. Along with a ginger spiciness, there are notes of mandarin peel and grapefruit juice, although it finishes quite pungent.
With water: the taste profile shifts to reveal a touch of sweeter citrus notes, coupled with the taste of peppery strawberry soup.
The finish is of medium length, with the bitterness and pungency carrying through. Mandarin peel and ginger notes persist until the end.
This Glenglassaugh Revival presents a notable wine influence on the palate, albeit with a discernible bourbon influence. Whilst the sherry finish is present, it doesn’t assert itself as strongly as anticipated. It gives the impression of being a younger spirit, and the addition of water brings a more balanced taste. At a price point of €40, it is worth considering. However, at a higher range of €50 to €60, it may not be the best value for money.
Glenglassaugh Evolution Review
The Glenglassaugh Evolution whisky is the second offering from their core range. It has been aged solely in ex-Tennessee first-fill whisky casks, likely sourced from its parent company Brown-Forman. With a higher ABV of 50% compared to the Revival, it is bottled without chill filtration and artificial colouring. In the UK, it typically sells for about £43, while in France, the price hovers around €45.
Neat: It presents hints of wax, gentle citrus, juicy pineapple, sweet honey, cinnamon spice, and a touch of black pepper. The alcohol content is well balanced, adding a pleasant kick to the nostrils without overwhelming them.
With water: When a few drops are added, the nose takes on a new dimension. The aroma becomes richer and creamier, with a buttery note and a fresh pastry scent.
Neat: Spicy entrance on the palate, with a subtle woodiness that enhances the velvety mouthfeel. While the pineapple note is less prominent than on the nose, it’s still a pleasant citrusy presence. The taste evolves to salted caramel and a generous amount of pepper, followed by subtle hints of vanilla and honey. There’s also a slight tartness of grapefruit and green apple, indicating a touch of youthful character.
With water: Adding water changes the flavour profile, introducing a note of bittersweet chocolate that balances the initial bitterness. However, it’s important not to add too much water, as the mouthfeel quickly becomes thinner. The citrus note becomes slightly more pronounced, creating a refreshing aftertaste.
Long and warming, with a peppery kick that lingers on the tongue. There’s a bittersweet note that emerges, balanced by a woody taste of oak and a hint of ginger spice.
While the Glenglassaugh Evolution whisky is an improvement over the Revival expression, it falls a little short in terms of complexity. However, it’s worth noting that the whisky is relatively young, which may account for this.
Glenglassaugh Torfa Review
Glenglassaugh’s ‘Torfa’ gets its name from the Old Norse word for peat. This expression is fully matured in ex-bourbon casks and peated to 20 ppm, marking the distillery’s first permanent peated whisky since 2014. Bottled at 50% ABV, it is, similarly to the Evolution and Revival offerings, non-chill filtered and has a natural colour. In the UK, it is typically priced around £43, while in France, the price can vary depending on the retailer, ranging from €45 to higher.
Neat: There is a moderate peatiness present, although less intense than expected. The aroma includes ash and brine, along with a hint of cold, charred oak wood. A subtle sweetness is detected, with just a teaspoon of honey, but overall, the nose lacks complexity.
With water: Reduction brings out a slight fruity note, with hints of apricot and pear emerging. However, there are not many other notable changes to the aroma profile.
Neat: The peatiness intensifies on the palate, accompanied by spicy notes. The smoky, charred wood flavour is still present, along with a subtle chilli kick and a touch of salt. Whilst there is not much fruitiness detected, a few drops of grapefruit juice can be tasted.
With water: When water is added, the palate opens up to reveal more fruit flavours, including apple and citrus notes. The smoky taste is still prominent, but a hint of vanilla begins to emerge.
The finish has a medium length, with a lingering ashy smoke flavour, which is accompanied by a slightly bitter taste of wood and spices.
The peatiness in Glenglassaugh Torfa is dominant and overpowers the other flavours, resulting in a lack of complexity. The smoke is almost all-encompassing, and as the whisky is still quite young, the peat has not had time to be balanced by the influence of the casks.