A large part of why I attend the Old & Rare Whisky Show is for the opportunity to experience whisky from Glenugie, now as rare as hen’s teeth. More so than even Brora or Karuizawa it would seem. Up today, a pair from this lost distillery.
I’m trying the ‘weaker’ one [at 58%!!] first as I’ve a hunch the 1967 vintage is the one to finish on. Colour: orange-gold.
- N: With a healthy hint of OBE, the potency of this compelling punchy spicy oaky fruity and malty whisky is formidable, the high proof alcohol jam-packed full of flavour. The dusty old nicknack drawers open to reveal citrusy drying & vibrant sugared/syrupy/honey-dense slightly tobacco-coated condensed fruits coupled with aromatic curry spices, orange essence and root ginger.
- T: Boy is that powerful. Just a few drops of water bring out the fruit tincture & bitter~herbal qualities. It’s still prickly though, and I find it quite woody which is saying something for me. Saying that, it’s a lovely dense bitter oaky syrupy-dry dram though it doesn’t do a great deal more before turning into the finishing straight.
- F: Delectable waxy malty chocolate on the turn, sustaining for a while after with a beautiful tobacco-y powdery-dry fruity barley sugar conclusion.
- C: A hardcore malt that surely requires some considered water management experimentation to glean the best from it – rather tricky with a 1cl sample. Whilst the palate brings a brutish charm, it’s the nose then finish that push this one into the top league.
Scores 90 points
- N: This possesses an incredible textural viscosity that’s got something of the butchers about it. We are talking of organs and the like: liver, heart, kidneys etc,.. Also, we’ve a few descriptors from the garden including soils and fertilisers as well as a stewed fruitiness in the form of > tincture-y rhubarb, freshly-cut strawberries, passing hints of kiwi with > sage and mint-seasoned < sun-dried raisins which lead to the complex old balsamic sherry cask’s big moment. The rancio heart appears live enough to be moving with sweet-sour damp-fungal=wood-dry notes that conjure memories of visits to old wine & sherry warehouses and outdoor wine tastings in Tuscany. A hundred reviewers would provide thousands of different descriptors for a nose like this. Just know that there’s enough going on to stir or indeed evoke an emotion or two.
- T: Again, the abv takes me by surprise but it’s easily & willingly tamed. Unlike the 1966 Signatory, however, this one isn’t so willing to unravel right away. This is so potent that the incredible bitter-sweet~sour deep sherry-fruit-based arrival is hard to muster in words. Sounds, or lack of them, tell the story of a stunned man. Slowly, these grand old sherry notes begin to emerge with details I’ve never experienced before. Add water and it’s sweeter, kinder, more candid and moreish with a complexity underlying. Finally opening towards a bitter herbal sweet affair, the abv effortlessly carries aloft, flavour molecules without obtrusiveness. Wonderful!
- F: Does the cask dominate? No, but it certainly steers. What we are left with is a complex dusty-musty berry-fruity earthy sherry-driven smorgasbord of orthonasal & retronasal olfactory references that a culmination of thousands of wine & spirits tastings along with numerous visits to distilleries & warehouses, vineyards & cellars might give you. Some sort of sour rancio to finish, the sherry driving this all the way home.
- C: Whisky you could easily slug without thinking – if you had the means and the nerve – but you’d miss a trip of a lifetime. This makes me want to explore sherry with immediate effect.
Scores 94 points
Further reading about Glenugie: