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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Glenglassaugh Torfa Whisky Review!

We're back to the regular whisky reviews for the time being, but we're also off to a new distillery!

Glenglassaugh was founded in 1875, near Portsoy in the Scottish Highlands, and was mothballed (production ceased, skeleton staff only) for over 20 years, in 1986. The distillery started up again, under new owners and after refurbishing, in 2008. The first whisky released under those new owners was the 'revival', in 2012, although there were also releases of 30 and 40 year old malt. Both of those were highly awarded.

Current owners Benriach Distillery Company (who also own Glendronach, and obviously Benriach) purchased the distillery, in 2013. Like it's sister distilleries, Glenglassaugh does not chill filter, or add any artificial colouring, and bottles at 46% and above, for most expressions. Great stuff! It may not be the prettiest distillery, and it may not have the cult status and cult following of it's sisters, but this is effectively a young distillery (younger than Kilchoman, for some perspective!), so the potential is there. 

The Glenglassaugh (pronounced glen-glass-ah) that takes my fancy, and this may not come as a surprise, is their peated expression, named Torfa, basically the Norse word for peat. Peated malts aren't particularly common in the highlands of course, so I was curious to try this one. It's not particularly heavily peated, with the phenol content on the malt coming in at around 20 ppm, but as we know, that little number doesn't always tell us the whole story. It doesn't carry an age statement, and it will be young, both due to the age of the distillery, and the desire for maximum peat influence. But once again, that doesn't tell us the whole story!
Glenglassaugh Torfa, NAS, 50%. Portsoy, Highlands, Scotland.
Non-chill filtered, no added colouring. Peated to 20ppm. 

Colour: Very pale gold. 

Nose: Sour white wine (sauvignon blanc?), spirit-y, very light earthy peat, acetone (nail polish remover). Sweet & sour sauce, fresh barley, under-ripe tropical fruit. 

Texture: Light-medium, spirit-y. 

Taste: Slightly earthy peat, sweet malt, hint of smoke. Quite hot. 

Finish: Short-medium. More heat, earthy peat, hint of malt, tiny hint of smoke. 

Score: 2 out of 5.

Notes: Just too young, in my opinion. Lacking complexity and still quite hot. I wouldn't go so far as to call it rough, but too young suits it. But then, there are plenty of young-very young malts which absolutely smash this one (Kilchoman, and Bruichladdich's Octomore, for example). It did improve slightly during it's time in the glass, and it's not undrinkable by any means. Without that light peat influence though, that may have been a different story... 

Not the best introduction to a new distillery, and perhaps not the best example of the brand either, although it does have potential. I'm still glad to have tried it, by way of a sample purchased from Nippy Sweetie Whiskies. If I had bought a bottle though, I think I'd be quite disappointed. Price-wise, the Torfa is quite a bit more expensive than the entry-level peated malts from higher-profile distilleries. Even sister distillery Benriach offers their 10yo 'Curiositas' (review coming soon) for substantially less money. And I know which one I would rather take home...