Nowadays it’s pretty common to see one distillery/company owning more than one active distillery. For example Morrison Bowmore with Auchentoshan, Glen Garioch and Bowmore. One that is becoming more popular by the day is the BenRiach Distillery Company which owns BenRiach, Glendronach and most recently Glenglassaugh. I heard along the grapevine that they were doing a tour across the chain of ‘The Whisky Shop’, and liking to support whisky in my local area, I trudged down to Guildford’s Whisky Shop with pen and pad in hand and met the ever smiling and wonderful Lyn. She promised that it would be a good night and she wasn’t wrong.
Here was the selection of Glenglassaugh and BenRiach we got to sample. There were three Glendronach present also, but they will appear in a separate blog post (because Glendronach is my favourite of the three distilleries).
Glenglassaugh Evolution (50%)
(5 years old)
: Young, spirity, light and relatively fresh. Richer than I thought with lots of highland style barley flavours, whilst retaining a Speyside nose by nature. Heather, toffee, fruitiness & some vanilla. I can really smell those bourbon casks. Over all, pretty sweet and buttery.
P: Slightly prickly throughout. Big vanilla hit upfront, but the 50% cuts through that sweetness quickly. Slight aggression whilst retaining some softness. Lots of peat, apples and freshly cut grass here. The bourbon notes again quite present along with the barley character (apparently from the hard water source). Earthy, mineral notes before the caramelised pears appear. Even a slight whisp of wood smoke?
F: Medium. Flavours competing for top spot here, maybe not enough focus? Hay, heather and floral sweetness are overriding notes. Pretty dry in general. Fresh in mouth like listerine, with an overriding sweetness. Pretty young stuff… I think this will be nice when it reaches 10/12 years, but for now it seems pretty pricey for what it is.
Glenglassaugh Torfa 50%
: sweet, vegetal peat, slight coastal air whiff before the ashen wood smoke notes appear. Similar to Evolution it has grassy, heather and wet mossyness. Quite farm-yardy in character.
P: Quick brash arrival of sweet peat, sitting upon a bed of young spirity liquid. Sweet fruits, stewed rhubarb and some burnt straw. The ashy light peat actually works well with the young vibrant zest and saltiness. Bourbon notes towards the end with some fresh oak and peppery tones.
F: medium again, with a drying quality that leaves the tongue feeling slightly abused. Smoke doesn’t linger for long, but oakiness and flashes of bourbon do. Quite drinkable, but I’m not sure whether I’d enjoy the whole bottle. Again, pricing point is interesting.
BenRiach 16yo 40%
: Slightly harsh and spirity nose which is interesting. Grassy, fruity and overall pretty quintessentially Speyside. Some vanilla and dark caramelised fruits sit nicely with a note of chocolate covered raisins.
P: Slightly thin start. Huge punch of apples, pears and creme caramel and papaya. Some tropical fruits too, mostly pineapple. The sweet overtones balanced with the light sawdust hold the tongue before a splash of barley appears towards the end.
F: Medium and quite drying. Lots of dried fruit and raisins. Some nice gentle chocolate notes also. Inoffensive, light and delicate. This was nice, but having had a bottle of the 12yo before, I can’t really see that much of a change. Easy enjoyable drinker that benefit at 46%.
BenRiach Authenticus 25yo 46%
: Unique, rich, mature and smooth. Barley is quite prominent before hints of sweet sherry. Mossy with a slight dampness to it. Peat lurks about not giving too much away. Quite a moorish nose.
P: Catches you off guard. Slight damp grass/hay, but less fruity that I was expecting. A broad spiciness before the round warming peat arrives. The damp grass turns into cut grass as it becomes more vibrant and smooth. The sherry doesn’t make an appearance until later on once the peat fizzles away.
F: Medium. Earthy, grassy and relatively gritty. Quite balanced throughout and in general a very different dram. I can’t work out whether I love it or I’m just plain confused by it.
A big thank you to Lyn and the Whisky Shop Guildford for getting these whiskies in for the tasting. A nice evening and good to try a variation of drams coming from these distilleries.