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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Single Malt Report: Glengoyne Cask Strength, Batch 1

On Tuesday, I reported on GlenDronach's first batch of their new sherried NAS Cask Strength single malt.  Today, it'll be the first batch of the new version of Glengoyne's sherried NAS Cask Strength single malt.  These two young Cask Strength whiskies were released around the same time late last year.

This version of Glengoyne's CS is part of the brand's newly refreshed range.  Previously there had been a 10, 12, 17, and 21 year old, along with a 12 year old cask strength.  The new range, presented with new handsome modern labels, swaps out the 17 for a 15yo and 18yo, and the CS loses its age statement.  The old range is still available all over the US, while the new range has been slow to get here.  Specifically, this cask strength bottling has yet to cross the ocean.

In October 2012, I reviewed the old 17 year (please see the review for more info about the distillery) from a sample and enjoyed it immensely.  From there I bought my own bottle and discovered a whisky much more heavily sherried than the one from the sample.  Since I'd poured that original sample myself, I pondered if there may have been some batch variation.  I had read that at least 35% of the casks in the 17 were first-fill sherries, so could they have upped the sherry casks?  Since their site now says most of their casks are ex-sherry, my theory might hold up.

This new Cask Strength edition is certainly sherried, though more softly so than the GlenDronach.  I've eyed the old Glengoyne 12yo Cask Strength on a couple of occasions as it can still be found here and there, meanwhile this first batch of the new CS can also be found in Europe as it hasn't sold out as quickly as the 'Dronach.  Let's see how Glengoyne fares.

Distillery: Glengoyne
Ownership: Ian MacLeod Distillers
Age: NAS
Maturation: ex-Oloroso sherry Spanish oak casks (possibly a mix of first- and re-fill casks)
Region: Highlands (South)
Alcohol by Volume: 58.7%
Batch: 1 (2012)

The color is a dark reddish amber, perhaps "sienna" if this was a Macallan.  First thing I smell in the nose is PEAT! OMG PEAT!!!  I'm kidding, there's no peat.  That was just a poke at the Glengoyne marketing folks (who will probably never read this review), who make a point to brag about the lack of peat in their whisky.  Okay, I'll start again.  There's a lot of buttery oak in the nose.  Lots of lightly spiced toasted oak as well.  Pencil eraser, paint thinner, golden raisins, shoe soles, and stale black raisins.  It's actually very closed.  Needs lots of air.  After twenty minutes: orange sorbet, pencil shavings, a distant meatiness, and a puff of eggy sulfur.  The malt is much louder in the palate.  Lots of young barley spirit.  There's a slight rubberiness and significant heat.  Sherry meets vanilla beans meets juicy raisins, but it's not sweet.  The finish is very drying and the sherry announces itself the loudest here.  A little chocolate, a lot of stewed prunes, and sea salt.

On the nose, oh my goodness.  Everyone's favorite horse, Hoof Hearted, arrives in first (please click here and turn up the volume for a 16 second explanation).  Airing it out a bit, the whisky become reminiscent of the 17yo with a soft sherry duvet.  More pencil erasers now and more sugars, but less of the solvent.  Also some nice lemon peel and dried ginger.  The palate is very creamy with a nice coffee bitterness.  Vanilla custard and whipped cream.  That pleasant bitter note lingers in the finish, along with a little tanginess and very milky chocolate.

Here's a rare instance wherein I'll recommend adding water, but then please give the nose a little air if you know what I mean.  It's not bad when neat, but it's very tight.

One thing I found curious about this whisky is the oak.  There is a significant presence of butter and vanilla, vanillin notes which can be found in casks of charred American oak.  Many distilleries are now using American oak for their sherry casks since it is easier to come by and much cheaper.  So I actually thought that was the oak involved in this whisky's maturation.  But Glengoyne states very clearly that their oak is felled in Spain.  Toasted q.robur and q.petraea can also deliver vanilla notes, but I've never found such a strong ones coming from a European oak-aged whisky.  Perhaps they char the oak as opposed to a medium toasting, thus bringing more vanillins to the surface?  This is not a complaint, more of an observation (and an opportunity for someone to weigh in on this).  It was very interesting to experience a heap of chocolate coming from GlenDroanch's sherry casks and big dose of vanilla coming from Glengoyne's sherry casks.

Ultimately this wasn't as lush and rich as the GlenDronach.  It needs a considerable amount of air as well as some careful watering to open it up.  Once it comes to life, it's a pleasing drinker, one I might try again especially if additional batches are released.  Now how about one batch for The States?

Availability - Europe only
Pricing - $80-$95 depending on shipping costs
Rating - 81