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Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

Review: Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old   92/100
Review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Published May 31, 2015

Glenglassaugh Distillery is located just outside of the Speyside Whisky Region in Northeast Scotland. It is near the town of Portsoy, Banffshire about 50 miles from Aberdeen. The distillery was established in 1875 by Col. James Moir who managed the business  (with his two nephews) until 1892, when Highland Distillers stepped in and acquired the facility. The distillery remained in production until 1986 when, due to industry consolidation, it was mothballed.

In 2008, the distillery and the Glenglassaugh brand was purchased by the Scaent Group with the intention of rebooting the facility to take advantage of the surge in interest in whisky word-wide. Part of the marketing strategy was to release some existing warehouse stocks as vintage whisky bottlings, as within the facility were barrels of whisky which had sat in limbo quietly aging since 1986.

Five years later, in 2013, due in no small part to the success of the vintage bottlings, (as well as the new whisky being produced) the BenRiach Distillery Company took over the Distillery bringing in new investment capital and corporate management to ensure the growth of the rebooted Glenglassaugh brand.

Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one of the iconic vintage bottlings which was produced from spirit which had been distilled in 1984, and then had sat silently in a mixture of various oak barrels including both American Oak and ex sherry barrels. This whisky was bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (abv) sometime in 2010 and limited to a small production of 1002 bottles.

Glenglassaugh 26 SAM_1599In the Bottle 4.5/5

I snapped a picture of the 26 Year Old Whisky on my back deck after I had already enjoyed a few drams of the rich whisky inside the bottle. As you can see it arrives in a nice teardrop decanter with a solid metal topped cork sealing the whisky inside. The label features an etching of the Glenglassaugh logo which features the words “Per Terra Quod Mare” (translate: By Land and Sea) above two sea birds resting on stalks of barley.

It all looks quite nice, but what is missing from the presentation is some sort of information regarding the types of casks used to age the whisky; the expected flavour profile; whether or not any of the whisky was peated. I always feel that the consumer deserves to know whether he or she would like the profile of the whisky before he or she buys it. Especially a bottling which is meant to sell for well over $200.00 (closer to $400.00 in the few places I have seen it for sale).

In the Glass 9/10

When I poured the spirit into my glencairn glass, the whisky showed me a nice golden colour that was already well on its way to copper. I gave the glass a slow tilt and a twirl, and the thickened sheen of whisky inside showed me a crest which dropped medium-sized legs back down into the whisky.

The initial aroma is full of oaky smells along with candied toffee and fruity sherry-like aromas. As I let the glass sit there continued to be a lot of oak and cedar in the breezes; however these wood spice and woody sap-like smells seemed to be well melded into the sweet toffee and the dark fruit which gave the nose good balance. There are hints of willow and heather in the breezes and perhaps just a touch of spearmint and orange zest as well.

All in all I like what I am sensing as this is promising to be a rich, full flavoured and balanced whisky .

In the Mouth 56/60

The whisky is bottled at 46 % alcohol by volume so the flavours are somewhat concentrated and there is a bit of an alcohol push across the palate. I found I had to sip cautiously until my palate adjusted to the concentrated spice and the alcohol heat. My patience was rewarded as the promise of the nose was fulfilled, and perhaps the flavour was even richer than that promise. I taste oak and cedar in abundance, rich almond-like marzipan, sweet honeycomb, and a bevy of fruit flavours. Orange zest, red licorice, fresh raisins and sweet figs have all found their way into the wonderful nectar.

Adding a ice-cube brings creaminess to the glass and tempers the heat revealing vanillans and bittersweet chocolate under the spice. I preferred my dram with ice as I loved the chocolate flavours which pushed through; my friend Dennis who shared a glass with me, preferred the full barrel of spice the whisky offered when served neat. Either way the whisky is delicious!

In the Throat 13.5/15

The whisky kicks the tonsils and heats the palate, but then what else would you expect from a 46 % abv offering. Fortunately the lingering finish featured not just wood spice, but also a soothing menthol-like sensation which cooled the throat after the spice heated it. A touch of woody bitterness is apparent when you sip with ice, so maybe my friend Dennis was right after all.

The Afterburn 9/10

The Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old Whisky does not disappoint. It is rich and well-balanced, and I find the strong concentrated flavours combined with the full barreled spice make for an excellent dram, especially on a cold wet evening.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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