Glenglassaugh distillery

Glenglassaugh is a spicy and lightly maritime Highland Whisky, which is characterized by a very beery-fruity basic character. The Glenglassaugh Revival is a great example of the character of the distillery.

Glenglassaugh Whisky

The Glenglassaugh whisky distillery is a true ‘Coastal’ malt whisky Distillery located in the Scottish Highlands. The distillery is located just outside the small town of Portsoy and should actually belong to the Speyside region but is counted among the Highlands. The closest distilleries are Glen Deveron and Banff.

Glenglassaugh has spent a large amount of its time closed, the distillery was mothbolled most recently in 1986. It wasn’t until December 2008 that the distillery reopened after it being purchased by the Scaent group For £5 million. Glenglassaugh has been part of The BenRiach Distillery Company since 2013 alongside Benriach and Glendronach, the company has been part of Brown-Forman’s portfolio (Jack Daniel’s producer) since 2016.

Upon approach the distilleries large warehoueses can be seen towering by the. The entire distillery feels extremely ‘remote’ location in part because it is. A little further west the River Spey flows into the North Sea and east of Banff the River Deveron meanders to the North Sea.

House style

While the distillates from the earlier Glenglassaugh distillery have captured an audience there is a massive 22-year hole in stock. Consequently the distilleries releases are being carefully balanced between very infrequent bottlings of older stock and much younger, newer distillates. As such there are two distinct whiskies to discuss, and it and has both smoky and non-smoky variants within its range.

As Glenglassaugh is a coastal distillery its maturing stock bears a coastal note more prevelent in younger than older expressions. Both are sweet and fruity though younger offerings are much sharper.

The non-peated Glenglassaugh single malt expressions are characterized by strong fruit and berry notes, with underlying spice. The peated offerings are best defined by tea, caramel, citrus and nuts combined with herbal and ‘meaty’ scents in the nose.

Production

How is Glenglassaugh Whisky produced?Glenglassaugh uses and old Porteus mill, produces with an iron mashtun, 4 wooden and 2 stainless steel washbacks and a pair of steam heated Stills.

The distillery has massively expanded the production volume in recent years. The production volume was 1.1 million liters of pure alcohol in 2013. While most of the production is produced from unpeated malt, about 30,000 liters of pure alcohol are distilled using malt peated to 30ppm every year.

Recommendations

As Glenglassaugh did not produce whisky from 1986 to 2008, the stocks of old whiskies are limited. It is to be expected that the older inventories will come onto the market similar to Benriach or Glendronach in the form of special, limited Vintages.

As a result of the scarcity of older whiskies, the current standard whiskies of the distillery are of young age.

  • The Glenglassaugh Revival is 3 years old with a 6-month finish in Oloroso sherry barrels.
  • The Glenglassaugh Evolution, only slightly older, comes from American oak barrels and is bottled with 50% alcohol content.
  • In 2014, the standard range was then supplemented by the peated Glenglassaugh Torfa, matured in ex-Bourbon barrels and bottled at 50% abv.

History

Construction of Glenglassaugh started on Craig Mills Farm near Portsoy in 1873 and was completed two years later. It was built as a Glenglassaugh Distillery Company by the local wine & liquor dealer James Moir.

In earlier years, production at Glenglassaugh was suspended. From 1907 to 1931 and then again from 1936 until the renovation in 1960 when Glenglassaugh was completely rebuilt. The closure in 1986 was only intended to be temporary, but it lasted until December 2008. During which time the distillery was acquired by Highland Distillers in the 1990s.

On March 22, 2013, the Benriach Distillery Company announced that it had bought Glenglassaugh from Lumiere Holdings in Amsterdam. In April 2016, Glenglassaugh was sold together with along with Benriach and Glendronach to Brown-Forman(USA), which produces Jack Daniel’s and Finlandia Vodka.

Glenglassaugh factsheet

Name Pronounced AKA Region Country of Origin
Glenglassaugh glen*glass*ock Highlands Scotland
Status Active Whisky Type Website Tours Available
Active 1875 - Present Malt Glenglassaugh Tour Link
Manager Distiller Blender Owned by Parent Group
Billy Walker Independent

Glenglassaugh Timeline:

1873: Ames Moir a local wine & liquor dealer founds the distillery

1892: Glenglassaugh is taken over by the Highland Distillers

1907: The distillery is mothballed

1960: After more than 50 years of standstill, Glenglassaugh is completely rebuilt

1986: Glenglassaugh is mothballed again

2008: The Scaent Group buys the distillery for £5m

1873-75: Founded by the Glenglassaugh Distillery Co. (a partner in that firm being Thomas Wilson, a distillery coppersmith, as his father had been) on land known as "Craig’s Mills", after the three mills situated there. Two were watermills, which powered the distillery well into the 20th century, and one windmill, one of the few in Scotland, which was the entrance

1892: Acquired by the Highland Distilleries Co. Ltd.

1907-31: Silent

1931-32: Operated

1933-36: Operated

1936-59: Closed

1959-60: Completely refurbished by Highland Distillers Co. Ltd.. Two stills. A very advanced design for its time

1986: The distillery was mothballed

1999: Owned by Highland Distillers

2004: Owned by The Edrington Group

Can I tour Glenglassaugh?

Yes Glenglassaugh distillery is tourable. On Trip Advisor the distillery has been rated as excellent by 39 of 56 tours to date. This gives Glenglassaugh an overall rating of 4.5

Latest reviews

Distillery Tour by Neil C

A challenging tour for our guide as I was accompanied by 6 Italians and only one spoke English so everything she said he then translated which made things very slow and disjointed. Our guide was however excellent and very knowledgeable about the brand ( Glenglassaugh, GlenDronach and BenRiach). The tour was excellent and very informative, at the end was the tasting and as I’d paid an additional charge for the extended tasting I was left with just the guide after the standard tasting ended. This is when the experience really took off. In addition to the extra I’d paid for I was given a very special extra as a thank you for my patience during the tour. At this point the shop door opened and the guide said “oh it’s Rachel“ and we were joined by Rachel Barrie the master blender and spent over half an hour learning about the unique peculiarities of Glenglassaugh spirit and the whisky it becomes. An awesome experience even without the additional bits.

Perfect Small Distillery Tour by AndrewRitchie

We had a tour with Brenda during the distillery 'silent season' which meant that there was no production in progress at the time.Though this meant there was less activity to see but Brenda made up for this with making sure that we got an in-depth viewing of the production process as it would be when active.Brenda was knowledgeable and I came away with more understanding of the differences in Stills and how this affects the final product. Though I've always known the importance of cask types in the creation of the product, Still differences was new to me.Chatting to the warehouse staff about the barrel types and how they move the whisky between them to improve the product was fascinating.This tour was part of a visit to the region connecting with my family roots and I came away having had a great experience.The tasting was also great, Brenda listened to my tastes and gave me appropriate samples.I came away with both the peated and classic Octave cask whiskies to remember a very special day by.

A Distillery as It Should Be by Andy B

Heaven.A small(ish) distillery slowly coming back to life after many years of being mothballed.We felt like we were supporting a small local business which gives us a real thrill.Glenglassaugh has a wonderful history and we hope a grand future. Worth the effort to find it for those who appreciate the “water of life”.Wonderful, simple, historic Whisky spot.

Rating Reviews
Excellent 39
Very good 13
Average 1
Poor 1
Terrible 2