Recommended use: Serve neat
Malt Mileage Rating: ★★★★★★
Type: Single malt whisky
Origin: Highlands, Scotland
Price: AU$600 / US$400 / £300
The Glengoyne is a distillery located in the Highlands region of Scotland. It is perhaps most famous for its use of slow distillation (which means that sulfides in the alcohol can be more optimally absorbed by copper) and for air drying the barley instead of using peat (which gives its whisky a clean taste with notes of toffee and apple without a single puff of peat smoke). Its core range consists of a growing number of expressions, including the cask strength, 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 year olds, and, the new 25 year old released in April 2014.
The Glengoyne 25 year old is matured for a quarter century in first fill ex-sherry casks, which is an increasingly rare and expensive practice because people do not drink as much sherry as they used to and as a result sherry casks are getting rarer while demand for them from distilleries increases. We are advised that sherry casks cost about 10 times more, on average, than bourbon barrels and that the vast majority of Scotch (95%) is now matured in ex-bourbon barrels because these barrels are much cheaper for distilleries to buy than sherry casks. Sherry matured whisky is therefore increasingly rare, and, as a result, the Glengoyne 25 year old is a rare pleasure. If only 5% of Scotch whisky is matured in sherry casks, then the Glengoyne 25 year old in my view sits near the very top of a very exclusive club!
On each nosing and tasting of the Glengoyne 25 Year Old the resonating sound of BB King’s Lucille guitar echoes in my mind – smooth, powerful, charismatic, unique, timeless. That Is precisely what captures the essence of this whisky, as its rich overtones of sherry wood meld beautifully with the clean Glengoyne style – smooth, powerful, charismatic, unique and timeless. The wood notes in this whisky are a testament to the fine work being done at the distillery in terms of cask selection and reinforces in my mind at least the traditional edge of Scotch in the world of whisky – you can’t hurry love, because studies suggest that the compounds in oak need to break down to release optimal flavours and that takes time, sweet time. This is not a woody whisky. It is a mature Scotch. At £250 it is certainly on the higher end of the spectrum but it is important to remember that it has sat for a quarter century in increasingly rare sherry casks. In the words of BB King himself:
“You only live but once, and when your died your done, so let the good times roll.”
This whisky may have scored 97 points in a blind tasting which included some of its peers of a similar age, but when savouring this fine dram with the soothing sound of some classic Blues the good times roll to a solid 98 – a delight!
Nose: Big medium-dry sherry notes accompany vanilla, cocoa, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, burnt orange, orange zest marmalade, dried dark fruit (dried fig, raisin) and grilled stone fruit with hints of balsamic and green peppers. As the whisky rests its aromas develop with notes of salty goats cheese, scorched almonds, banana bread, honey and occasional flashes of a refreshing gust of crushed peppermint fisherman’s friends. With more time, even more aromas develop with chocolate brownie, caramel, toffee, toothpaste (in a good way), star anise, Brazil nuts and the dry sugary gust of English style pot still rum. The bouquet on this whisky can keep me entertained for an hour, and over that time hints of different aromas sparkle. Amazing.
Taste: So graceful and smooth, the whisky expresses rich dark chocolate, sherry and dried fruit as calming waves of vanilla carry sparks of spice, crushed nuts and zesty sugary marmalade. This is an impeccably balanced full flavoured fruit cake on the palate with the gradual development of a spicy sweet heat that is the unmistakable magic of European oak sherry wood.
Finish: Cinnamon, pepper and other spices emerge with more dominance than on the palate, glistening in the fog of sherry wood, dried dark fruit and glazed cherries, candied orange peel and shaved citrus rind with the most curious lingering taste of a medium-dark ale. This is absolutely brilliant that the flavours of the barley still shine, despite 25 years maturation in first fill sherry casks. The finish is long and progressively drying.