The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
Wise words from Rabbie Burns, former Exciseman turned National Bard in 1786. And we’d do better to heed such a statement, as you see, we had plans for this whisky. Mark and I believed that it’d be a good thing to pick up a single cask release from Tyndrum whisky to review. Hence this article obviously. But to also showcase the fine efforts of this retailer in picking out single casks and also the overlooked nature of the Glenglassaugh distillery.
Glenglassaugh, we wrongly thought, would never sellout. It did, on the presale alone. Which just goes to show you how much we know and the changing marketplace.
Even now, as I commence this article on a calm Monday morning. A bottle has immediately hit the secondary market and is already doing ok for the flipper. While this has been a summer of lockdown, it’s also been a summer of flipping. If you browse the secondary market, then you’ll have seen multiples of recent releases all appearing on a regular basis. Just a count of a current auction shows 84 Waterford’s and 28 Bimber’s, which are the tip of the iceberg.
There are financial gains to be made, obviously, and we mustn’t ignore losses: especially true if the widescale flooding continues. The attraction of profit will only become more hypnotic as more economic hardship knocks on our doors. Then, there are those new to the whole enterprise. Attracted by the prospect of a little fun and reward. Unable to eat out on a regular basis, travel or shop as flamboyantly as before. The pull of becoming an armchair speculator has drawn in more players than before.
So, while exports are affected and sales are starting to slow. The market for limited and exclusive continues to prosper. Even with unlikely candidates such as Glenglassaugh it seems. The recent Bowmore Aston Martin DB5 is the pinnacle so far of this bizarre cult of whisky. A 31 year old whisky, which was effectively re-bottled to enable the car manufacturer to have their moment of exclusivity. The missing years are not mentioned, discussed, or dwelled upon amongst any of the press releases that have been thrust under my nose by search engines. What might have been a classy whisky on paper, has been reduced to a sideshow, a mere hood ornament for the privileged. Bottled in 1995, has it been sitting under a tarpaulin sheet, far from prying eyes, at the back of a warehouse?
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Where should I go? If we reverse the order of things. Where should an actual drinker of whisky go? What options remain in such a volatile marketplace, where opening, sharing and experiencing are very much the exception?
Many of us have tried to take a diplomatic approach. Hoping that by ignoring the problem it would simmer and then peter out. But the flames continue to spread and engulf many, including Glenglassaugh of all things. Very much an unfashionable, runt of the litter distillery. Generally purposed for the blending of insignificant fodder. Given its location, very much out of sight, out of mind for previous owners, as history has shown us.
To a certain extent, Glenglassaugh has an admirable inventory, which we’ve seen unleashed with various exceptionally aged whiskies of late, encased in distinctive bottle shapes. Yet, it has never struck a chord with whisky enthusiasts as much as other names within the industry. But here we are with an 8-year old that has sold out on pre-order. Part of me hopes that this is due to the unique nature of this being a peated rum cask rather than the signature of Rachel Barrie on the label. A break from the parade of octaves we’ve seen numerous times from private individuals, where the whisky has been of variable quality.
This peated rum barrel #2 (origins not specified, sadly), was distilled on 16th May 2011 and apparently bottled just before lockdown in 2020, at 8 years of age. The cask produced 216 bottles at 55.2% and retailed for a reasonable £65. Seal broken, we’ve ensured one less bottle hits that other market…
Glenglassaugh 2011 Rum Cask Tyndrum – review
Colour: gold leaf.
On the nose: a surprising degree of thatched peat, softened by brown sugar and fatty oils. A lovely balanced arrival. I’d never have put this down as Glenglassaugh. Wholemeal toast, bacon crisps, pureed apples, grilled pineapple and syrup. Some limescale, Dime Bars alongside smoked haddock and with time, mint leaf.
In the mouth: ooh a pleasing oily texture. Dying embers and a coastal salty vibe mixed with more sugary sweetness. Cracked black pepper, peanuts and more bacon – and isn’t bacon just a good thing in general?
There’s something increasingly scarce about finding a good single cask whisky, that warrants such a distinction and is well-priced. For everything that’s being released nowadays, that balance of value and experience is increasingly tipped towards disappointment. Fortunately, we do consider prices and the downside here is that this release sold out on the prospect of such a combination and consumer trust.
So, while I cannot guarantee you can pick up a bottle of this anytime soon. I’d suggest keeping an eye Tyndrum Whisky and other retailers for their own picks. This Glenglassaugh goes down as one of the most enjoyable whiskies from the distillery I’ve had in recent times.
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