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The Glenglassaugh Distillery was originally built in 1875 and produced a fruity whisky that was mostly used for blends like The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark – until, in November 1986, the distillery closed. It took twenty years, until 2008, before the distillery got a new owner: the Dutch Scaent Group from Amsterdam. The likeable Stuart Nickerson runs the distillery as Managing Director ever since.
In December of that same year, they announced to release a completely new product: new make spirit. Because this spirit had not matured in the required oak casks for the minimum amount of three years, they were, of course, not allowed to label it ‘whisky’. Neither were they allowed to put the distillery’s name on it, so quite tongue-in-cheek, they named it ‘The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak Its Name’.
The nose had to grow on me. The first drams I sampled (on different days), I didn’t really like it. But after a third try, I’m beginning to enjoy it a lot. It’s fruity with a whiff of smoke, but rather one dimensional. A bit of soap, but also something that reminds me of that purple gummy candy (know what I mean?) and those little cube bon-bon’s of pineapple. Quite a bit of metallic scent in there as well, as if it came out of a tin can. It kind of reminds me of rum (but hey, it isn’t whisky after all).
This clear Spirit Drink goes down the throat easily, despite its ABV of 50%. The smell returns on the palate, but adds heath flowers and – prominently – ripe pears.
The finish is nice and spicy, lasting longer than it takes for Andy Sleck to lose the Tour de France.
There are only 8.160 bottles of 500ml on the market of this new make (my bottle is number 2032 and was bottled in May 2009). This is not a single cask (as no cask was involved), but a single mash. Glenglassaugh also released a ‘Spirit Drink That Blushes To Speak Its Name’, matured for 6 months on Californian wine casks.
New make is something of a hype (started by Among others Kilchoman, the youngest distillery on Islay), but is also a way for distilleries to cover the costs of production while waiting for the whisky to mature in the warehouses. Nevertheless, this is good stuff and hence more than just a stunt.