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Monday, November 2, 2015

Single Malt Report: Glenburgie 19 year old 1995 Signatory for K&L Wine Merchants

Glen Whatsit?  Glenburgie.  It's a thing.  It's actually a big thing, a Pernod Ricard-owned Speyside distillery that cranks out over 4 million liters of alcohol a year.  Since they don't release regular official single malts of it, where the heck does all that whisky go?  The Ballantine's monster.  And the Old Smuggler littler monster.

Now technically, the Glenburgie distillery that made today's single malt no longer exists in the same form.  In 2003 its previous owners, Allied Domecq, knocked the whole thing down and rebuilt it.  It reopened in 2004, then expanded in 2006.  That old distillery had a pair Lomond stills (courtesy of Hiram Walker) from 1958-1981, which produced the Glencraig malt, a rare whisky though not one of the romantic ones.

The thingy I'm reviewing today is a regular potstill-distilled Glenburgie bottled by the reliable Signatory folks for K&L Wine Merchants.

Distillery: Glenburgie
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Independent BottlerSignatory
Retailer: K&L only
Age: 19 years (June 13, 1995 - August 1, 2014)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask #s: 6449
Bottles: 258
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 54.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Thanks to My Annoying Opinions for the sample!

Its color is light gold.  The quirky nose starts normally with lots of fruits: apricots, oranges, and peaches.  In the background are notes of stale bread and old milk.  Then fresh parsley and ground cardamom.  There's a farty note, more from the spirit (probably) than the cask.  After 15-20 minutes it straightens out a bit.  Rum balls, pencil lead, hints of flower blossoms and toffee pudding.  At the 30 minute mark it's dried grass clippings and fresh lemons.  The palate begins with a lot of caramel sauce and fresh herbs.  Roasted nuts and malt.  There's a fruity orange candy sweetness that starts out mild then grows with time in the glass, eventually taking over entirely.  The finish stays mildly sweet throughout.  A nutty burnt/browned butter note.  Some citrus peel, malt, and mushrooms.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is more focused.  A fruit and crème fraîche dessert.  But more canned fruit cocktail than fresh fruit.  A little vanilla, a little pencil lead.  In the palate it's oranges, caramel, vanilla, brown sugar, malt, and cayenne pepper.  The finish is much briefer.  But it's orangey and malty.  Some caramel and pepper.

The palate is pretty straightforward, nothing mindblowing but nothing offensive.  Solid "Speyside" (whatever that means at this point in time) stuff.  It's the nose that's more challenging, but I like it better than the palate for that same reason.  Still, I doubt its sniffer will scare any single malt fan away.  I would have recommended this with water had the finish hadn't been cut so short.  But if you do find oddities in the whisky when it's neat, have confidence that adding water will clear those away.

Since whisky grading is totally an exact science, I'm going to give this one more point than the K&L Dailuaine, because it is exactly one point better.  Or because of the Glenburgie's fascinating nose.  Or because it's Monday.  For a more enthusiastic(!) take on this whisky, see MAO's review from June.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $60-$70
Rating - 85


  1. Pernod actually sells official cask strength bottlings at the distilleries and UK stores (MoM and Whisky Exchange) but the US again gets left out. Since Ralfy considers Glenburgie a gem in the Pernod portfolio, I was eager to grab a bottle of this and I certainly do not regret it. I happen to love whiskies that are fruit bombs and this Glenburgie really fit that category.

    1. Yep, MAO has a very positive review of his CS bottling. While it's cool that Pernod has those releases, they represent such a tiny drip of the production. It would be excellent if they someday went the direction that Bacardi chose and start up regular releases of their potentially very fine single malts. And maybe expand the damned Longmorn range. I don't think there's much strain put on the Chivas line since the 18yo still sells for <$60. Anyway, end of complaint.

    2. I haven't had a Glenburgie to make me fall in love with it - from a sample size of 1 (a The Party Source exclusive from a few years back) - but I discovered Miltonduff through the 500ml Cask Strength Edition, and have loved it ever since. Glad to hear there's another one with such potential! I think similarly highly of Glen Elgin and Glen Ord - which is ironic, given Michael's recent experience.

    3. We're on the same page with Glen Ord. The K&L single cask didn't (in my opinion) represent how great Ord can be. I'm neutral about Glen Elgin, though I have a couple samples I'll try before the year is out to see if I can be knocked off the fence. Though, it does get bonus points for not being one of The Cool Glens.

    4. I will admit to being somewhat turned off of Glen Elgin because one of the worst whiskies I've ever tried came from there and it's hard to shake that kind of association.