Origin: Highlands, Scotland
Price: $135 (World of Whisky)
Glenglassaugh [pronounced glen-gla-soch] is a distillery located in the north east of Scotland just beyond the boundary of the Speyside region, and it sits nestled between the coast of the North Sea and the Burn of Fordyce. The distillery was built in 1875 and it subsequently was in operation for almost 100 years, closing its doors in 1986 after an economic downturn in the whisky industry during the 1980’s (which also saw the closure of some other famous names, such as Port Ellen, St Magdalene and Brora to name a few). Glenglassaugh remained silent for just over two decades but in 2008 it was purchased by an independent group of investors and then in 2013 by the BenRiach distillery. The once silent distillery is now revived, and with this revival comes a few interesting expressions which adopt a refreshing twist to whiskies that tend to come out of Scotland. Three of those expressions include the Revival, Torfa and Evolution. In this review Malt Mileage takes a look at the Glenglassaugh Torfa.
Glenglassaugh Torfa is the third release by the Glenglassaugh distillery and it is described as “a richly peated Highland malt” which is bottled at 50%. It is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and peated to 20ppm. “PPM” is an abbreviation for “parts per million” and it is the scientific measurement for showing “phenols” in whisky absorbed by barley when peat is burned to dry that barley and get it ready for mashing (where barley is placed in hot water to get sugars out of it), fermenting (where that “sugary” water is combined with yeast, which converts sugars to alcohol) and then distilling (where that now alcoholic water, similar to a strong beer, is heated to above 78.4 but below 100 degrees Celsius so that the alcohol (ethanol) can be collected when it boils at 78.4 degrees). By way of comparison this whisky is not as heavily peated as some of the Islay heavyweights such as Ardbeg (54ppm) or Laphroaig (40ppm), but it still has a fair bit of peaty goodness at 20ppm to get the taste buds salivating for a mouth full of dirt and foliage from Scotland (only we peat lovers will ever understand).
On the nose the peat does not dominate and instead sits beneath green apple, candied lemon peel, cough drops, soft vanillas, raisin and honey with scorched peanut skins and the smell of black dirt. On the palate the peat becomes more noticeable, interlaced with citrus candy, apple and ginger beer. The peat then becomes more pronounced at mid-palate, and the spicy ginger intensifies with chocolate coated raisins, vanillas and oak notes. The finish offers lingering oak, especially cocoa with some hints of coffee, and a fading mainland peat.
Overall the Glenglassaugh Torfa is a richly flavoured malt that offers a hefty helping of peat on the palate and the finish, but obviously not as much as the peaty malts from the big Islay distilleries. It is young, with pronounced apple indicating its youth, but the bourbon wood in which it is aged certainly gives it some depth that interacts nicely with the firm, but not overly dominate, peat.
Glenglassaugh Torfa is available from World of Whisky.