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Glenugie - a hidden gem among the lost distilleries

Contributing for the first in a series of articles on the lost distilleries, Ruben Luyten - who runs the excellent www.whiskynotes.be - shares his thoughts on Glenugie Distillery.

Interview with the author

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The distillery

Glenugie, the easternmost distillery in Scotland, was founded in the early 1830s near Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. Production started in 1837 but its history was rather problematic. It was taken over a couple of times and in the late 19th Century it was even converted into a beer brewery. Around 1890 it started to become very successful as a whisky distillery again, but two World Wars countered its success – it was silent most of the time between 1914 and 1945. In the 1970s it really started to go downhill.

The closure

Like many other distilleries (certainly in the Eastern Highlands), Glenugie was closed during the industry crisis of 1982/1983. Both stills were dismantled and the unusual cast iron framed building was sold for purposes other than distilling. Nowadays it’s the headquarter of the Score Group (producing valves and industrial turbines). A few original warehouses remain, as well as a distiller’s house, but it’s not worth visiting for malt lovers.

Collect or drink?

No official single malt bottlings were ever released, so we have to rely on independent bottlers to give us an opportunity to taste it.

Contrary to some other closed distilleries, Glenugie bottlings are truly rare. No official single malt bottlings were ever released, so we have to rely on independent bottlers to give us an opportunity to taste it. The first known single malt bottlings were distilled in 1959 and bottled by Cadenhead in 1977/1978, worth a lot of money now. Glenugie certainly has collecting potential, but this is a malt you should have tasted as well!

House style

Michael Jackson describes Glenugie as a floral, resinous malt, sometimes medicinal. He also said “Glenugie had plenty of character, but the elements are not well combined or balanced”. In my opinion, Glenugie mixes some Speyside elements (citrus fruits, strawberries, apples, sometimes more tropical fruits) with Highlands elements (oily notes, wax, herbs).

Buyers guide

The most famous (and supposedly best) bottlings are the Sestante bird labels and the old Cadenheads, but they’re almost impossible to find. Recent offerings are relatively affordable considering their age and availability, and they are rarely disappointing.

Signatory Vintage

Signatory Vintage

Lately most releases are marketed by Signatory Vintage - a series of 1977 bourbon casks with an extra finish in oloroso casks.

Shop for this bottle

Douglas Laing

Douglas Laing

Also available are Douglas Laing's 1982 productions in the Old Malt Cask range. Cask #5040 by Douglas Laing made me realize how interesting this distillery is.

Shop for this bottle


Glenugie produced a few extraordinary gems but more importantly, the average quality seems to be very high. Personally I think it’s one of the hidden gems among the closed distilleries.


markjedi1 wrote:

Great stuff, Ruben! I'm very much looking forward to your other articles on closed distilleries.

23 October 2010 23:06

Connosr wrote:

Ruben - we'll second that, thanks for contributing such a well informed piece. Great work :)

Mark - each lost distillery article will be authored by a different guest contributor, which should make for a nice series.

24 October 2010 00:04

GlenUgie wrote:

Good article Ruben! Indeed, there hasn't been any original distillery bottling (though Pernod Ricard/Chivas is bottling it through their visitor centres; in a way these can be considered as OBs). The Samaroli bottlings can be regarded as pretty rare as well. More info about Glenugie can be found here: www.glenugie.nl

24 October 2010 17:54

WhiskyNotes wrote:

Thanks guys.

@GlenUgie Your website is indeed a must-see for anyone who's interested in the distillery.

24 October 2010 22:21

bwmccoy wrote:

Great article and great info! My wife was able to try a glass of 29 year old Glenugie from the SMWS (99.11) on our recent trip to Scotland. If I had known the history before now, I would have purchased a bottle.

I just looked on the US website for SMWS and 99.11 is no longer available. Maybe it is still available in other countries.

Here are the tasting notes. Cask No. 99.11 (Glenugie) Tickled by ‘monstera deliciosa’ Highlands, Eastern Highlands

After inauspicious beginnings, the nose settled to dry grass, Golden Virginia, apple turnovers, fruit salad chews, pungent honey, leather and marzipan petits fours. The unreduced palate was definitely unusual, with the dry, tickly sensation of some tropical fruits (custard apple, monstera fruit); plasticine, washing up liquid and “chewing daffodil bulbs” were also mentioned: then peaty hints in the finish. The reduced nose was floral and fruity (apples, pears, mandarins) with baklava sweetness, lemon toddy and dry wood. Some thought the reduced palate “fabulous” with leather, pipe tobacco and “adult sweets” (Old English Spangles, apparently). This Peterhead distillery closed in 1983.

Drinking tip: A conversational whisky

Colour: Golden straw Cask: Refill hogshead Age: 29 years Date distilled: May 1980 Alcohol: 43.4%

06 November 2010 21:38

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