Benriach – Glendronach – Glenglassaugh Tasting – 20th April 2018
Why a tasting of these three Distilleries?
So back in 2004 whisky veteran Billy Walker teamed up with two partners and brought the mothballed distillery of Benriach. Over the next 12 years, under Billy and his team, Benriach flourished. Glendronach was added to the group in 2008, and Glenglassaugh in 2013. The group was sold to Brown-Forman in 2016 for £285 million. Today the three distillers are run as a small group within the larger, American, Brown-Forman group. We had Eddie Mullen – Business Development Manager for Northern Europe to tell us all about them.
The whiskies are all natural colour, and unchillfiltered, even the ones under 46%.
Glenglassaugh More Info
This distillery was originally founded in 1875, but it was closed between 1986 and 2008. It is situated on the Moray coast, right on the beach, which gives a coastal feel to the whisky. Because of the long shutdown, the whisky is fairly young, however this is not reflected in the quality.
Glenglassaugh Evolution – 50% – The first offering bottled very strong is around 7 years old, and has been matured in Ex-Tennessee whisky casks, Jack Daniels, which are excellent for maturing the spirit quickly. It is a spicy, citrus flavoured whisky, fresh, zesty and very warming.
Glenglassaugh PX Finish – 46% – A real star of a whisky, and amazingly it was only four and a half years old when it was transferred into fresh ex-Pedro Ximenez, a sweet rich sherry. The whisky has a lot of body, picked up from the cask, very rich sweet dried fruit flavours – I found chocolate. Gorgeous.
Benriach More Info
A classic Speyside distillery and whisky. Originally opened in 1897, it was closed between 1900 and 1965. The only reason it survived was due to Longmorn distillery on the same site using their malting floors. Benriach, although well liked as a blenders whisky, it was not often seen as a single malt and when Billy took it over all that changed, today they have an excellent range of peated and unpeasted single malts.
Benriach 10 years old – 43% – Classic Speyside – fresh and clean with citrus fruits-apples and pears, nutty with a hint of Sherry casks giving that dried fruit in the background.
Benriach 21 years old – 46% – In March 2017, Rachel Barrie took over as Master Blender and Whisky Maker from Billy Walker. Rachel has in the past worked at Glenmorangie Company, which includes Ardbeg, and Morrison Bowmore, Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. So excellent credentials. This 21 year old is the first expression which is totally put together by Rachel. I was particularly looking forward to trying this, it did not disappoint. They use whisky matured in four types of cask: ex-bourbon barrels, virgin oak casks, Pedro Ximenez casks and red wine casks,
resulting in a complex, delicate dram. Lots of summer fruit particularly on the nose, a little spicy, honey and sweet malty flavours. Really great.
Glendronach More Info
When Billy brought Glendronach he closed the deal quite quickly, he had no hesitation – as when he first joined the whisky industry, back in the 1960’s I think? , everyone looked up to Glendronach, their sherry cask matured whiskies were sought after by all the major blenders. The previous owners had even closed the distillery between 1996 and 2002, so there is an aged stock gap. I think that Glendronach does sherry cask matured whisky better than anyone.
Glendronach 18 year old – 46% Allardice – We were not messing around with the choice of expression. Named after the Distillery’s Founder James Allardice, this 18 yo is all matured in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks, and is everything you expect from such a whisky. A deep rich colour, with a wonderful nose. It has dried fruits, raisins and sultanas, Saville Oranges, chocolate. Makes you want to sit by the fire in a leather armchair and melt into your dram.
Glendronach 21 year old – 48% – Parliament – Named after the Parliament of Rooks that nest around the Distillery. This is a combination of both ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. It has that extra gravitas that such an aged whisky has, but there is that ever present question, which is the better the 18 – with just Oloroso casks used or the 21 with PX casks as well? The PX gives more dark chocolate flavour, and there is more plumb in the fruits. A bit more rich sweetness – Demerara sugar. The finish doesn’t end until the next time you clean your teeth!