Glenglassaugh, since it was founded in 1875, has spent more time closed than it has spent making whisky. Its spirit was long said to have been desired by blenders, and when the spirit was flowing it ended up in big brands such as the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. One of the notable periods of closure was between 1986 and 2008, and in 1992 its license was cancelled. For many years, you’d see only a few independent bottlings from the likes of Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory. In 2008 the distillery was bought by Dutch investors, who promptly created the Glenglassaugh Distillery Company, and the place was up and running again. (It was actually reopened by Alex Salmond, no less).
The Glenglassaugh 30 Year Old was the first of the ‘old’ whiskies launched under the new ownership. Whilst the distillery’s fate had been uncertain all those years, this whisky had been sitting in warehouses on the Moray coast quietly maturing. It represents the old guard – how things had once been – yet it is still a statement of the new regime. The Glenglassaugh 30 Year Old is bottled at 44.8% ABV and cost around £200.
Colour: deep copper, with a russet tinge. On the nose: lovely, startling yeastiness, mustiness and damn right gorgeousness. I love these old wood aromas – that sort of pencil box, leather, old cricket bats smell. Once that dies back there’s some delightfully balanced fruits: nectarines, baked apples with a dollop custard.
In the mouth: now all of that on the nose comes through on the taste. It’s not too woody at all for its age, in fact: the wood just sits there, perfectly balanced in the background. It means the rest of the dram is subtle and takes time to pick apart, as I’m not being sledge-hammered by any particular flavour. Dried fruits more than fresh fruits here though: A little Manchego, possible parmesan. Olives. Milk chocolate and toffee. Complex, stately, and with a lovely slippery, medium-weight texture. Immeasurably gorgeous.
If the Glenglassaugh 30 Year Old is the sort of thing you can afford as one of your monthly whisky purchases, I’d say you should buy it without hesitation. Even if you want to keep a whisky stashed away for a treat, or you want a pretty old whisky to celebrate a special occasion, then you’d not find a dram much better than this for the price. It’s an old, premium bottle that many could potentially afford with a bit of saving. It’s like being permitted into some special club and realising you’re welcome.
This is what quality whisky is all about.