Did you know that on the north coast of Scotland, on one of the banks of the rocky bay of the small port of Sandend, there is a distillery created in 1875 which despite a tumultuous life continues the methods of manual distillation: GLENGLASSAUGH.
Particularity of this region as well as the last GLENGOYNE tasting (straddling between the Lowlands and the Highlands), the discreet GLENGLASSAUGH distillery is also straddling between the SPEYSIDE and the HIGHLANDS.
The life of the distillery has been tumultuous since its creation by colonel James Moir, at the rhythm of sales and closures, reconstruction... to finish in 2016 under the yoke of Brown-Forman who acquired it together with the distilleries GlenDronach and BenRiach.
The distillate produced here is said to be land-sea: indeed its geographical position is a proof of the important link between the distillery and the sea.
Two references are proof of this: the motto Per Mare Per Terras which translates as "By the sea by the land" and the coat of arms which represents the waves symbolising the influence of the coastal situation and the two gannets which form the shape of a still.
Change also for the teams with the recent departure of his master blender Billy Walker (for new adventures a little further south on the Dufftown side (at GLENALLACHIE -NDLR-) and who was replaced by Rachel Barrie in charge of assemblies at BROWN FORMAN.
But before leaving dear Billy refreshed the game with the creation of new expressions (and even new experiences) such as REVIVAL (the first expression redone after 20 years of closure, aged in a mixture of red wine and new bourbon casks, cuvées and re-vatted for a new maturation in sherry casks) or EVOLUTION (created by ageing the whisky in ex-Tennessee whiskey casks). Recently the new master blender Rachel has taken over the creation by adding the OCTAVE technical range (aged in casks made from staves from a used cask which are about 1/8th the size of a sherry butt - with a final volume of 60 l - which would allow a greater interaction between the wood and the alcohol) classic or peated version.
Among these creations is the TORFA that we will taste today.
So first of all, what does TORFA mean? Well simply in medieval Scandinavian it means peat ? And when we are called peatdream.com... peat is something we like ! So this is a new experience of Billy Walker who wanted to create a distillate of earth, fire and sea. This whisky which was distilled from local peat barley at 20ppm was aged exclusively in second fill bourbon casks, Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks.
Ok I was influenced by the peaty side of this whisky, but also by the many awards it has gleaned in 2019: gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition, silver medal at the World Whiskies Awards and bronze medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
The colour of this whisky is golden but quite clear (short finish in bourbon casks) but it hides its power because it is still 50% strength.
On the nose, this whisky is quite sweet and fruity. The first aromas which enter the nose are sweet and peaty. The peat is well present but it is sweet and very discreet. When the nose comes back a second time in the glass it feels aromas of ripe orchard fruits and they are also quite sweet like apricot. The third passage brings more spices and iodine like salted ginger root!
And in the mouth?
Of course the first aromas are peaty and slightly iodized. But soon enough warm and sweet aromas of fruits, such as melon or pineapple, candied with honey and wood fire. Nevertheless the aromas of peat and smoke remain present throughout the tasting.
It is on the finish, once swallowed, that the peaty iodine character really makes its appearance but accompanied by beautiful fruity notes.
The big question that remains unanswered and I'll let you decide is whether it's in the HIGHLANDS or in the SPEYSIDE ? One thing is for sure that experiences like those of GLENGLASSAUGH are asking for more.