A few weeks ago, after a busy day of last-minute Christmas shopping for the kids, I rewarded myself with a stop at one of those new bottle shops that is more like a supermarket than a boutique. I quite like my smaller, but really quite well stocked, local shops but, when I’m up in the city, I do like to check out some of these stores too… Some of them have incredible scotch aisles!
While perusing, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop with some amusement as an obvious newbie scotch drinker was having quite the conversation about his palate preferences with the staffer working the whisky section. As he struggled to ask about particular bottles while see-sawing back and forth about the two drams he really enjoyed- Octomore and Glenlivet. (Can you can imagine two less-similar drops!) It forced me to reflect upon those days when I was just starting to really become fascinated with whisky. It was/is hard to describe why it’s so damned good and, yeah, there are lots of VERY different styles and flavours, most of which have something excellent to offer. And hey, you’ve got to start somewhere – I applaud the gentleman for trying to educate himself. Anyway, it was actually the whisky-aisle attendant whose comments really caught my attention, since he seemed very familiar with many, many malts and very knowledgeable, as well. When I heard him point out the Glenglassaugh Revival as “the best $67 scotch” he has ever had, I thought, What the hell, let’s give it a go!
After the newbie had settled upon his next malt to tackle, I approached the shop staffer to give me the goods on the Revival. According to him, the Glenglassaugh distillery is just outside of the Speyside region so, although it must use the more general “Highland” designation, it is distinctly Spey in character. Through many delightful-sounding specifics, I was told to expect a bold sherry character and an extremely well-rounded dram. He also claimed that this NAS whisky is composed with a significant ratio of 8 and 12 year whiskies. This dram is bottled at 46%abv and cost me $67 CDN, plus tax.
The carton notes state this whisky is non chill filtered and of natural colour. Assuming that’s true, I’m well impressed by the rich golden-coppery hue that I see in my glass. With NAS whiskies, I expect young stocks to result in ta rather pale spirit… Or assume caramel colouring has been added. (I suppose “Natural Colour” could just mean artificial agents have been added to create a more natural-looking drop.)
In the Nose
A definite wine-like aroma greets my first sniff, making me wonder about the casting regimen used for this whisky. Bits of black pepper and a new-make sour milk and spicy-sweetness. Obvious sherry notes and, as the glass breaths, caramel-toffee aromas become more assertive, along with some fresh cut wood. Perhaps hints of cherries and marshmallows. I’m not really finding a Spey-like character, as the typical Spey characteristics of orchard fruits and green grass seem non-existent.
(By the time I got to my third/fourth tasting sessions the growing headroom in the bottle seemed to have mellowed and improved some of the less pleasant aromas a little bit.)
On the Tongue
Young, young, young! Really, that’s the best summary I can offer. Early sweetness quickly gives way to a peppery, bitter-astringency eventually makes way for some sponge toffee flavours that were hinted at on the nose. Unfortunately that sour milk note is also showing up although it’s changed a bit into something more like, if memory serves, baby formula(?). A little oak on the exit, leading to a short finish of chocolate caramels that I wish would linger a while longer.
This is one of those whiskies that seems to be slowly growing on me and I wonder if I’ll really enjoy it by the time I’m working on the bottom half of the bottle. For the time being, however, the Glenglassaugh Revival has not yet showed me enough that I’d consider buying it again. I can’t help but think that the gentleman at the liquor store literally meant this his favourite whisky that costs exactly $67 dollars… I mean, there probably aren’t many malts falling in that narrow of a range! In my opinion, however, there are many whiskies that cost roughly the same or less that I far prefer over this one. I guess this is just more evidence of the differences between individual palates and a good reminder that one person’s opinion of a dram should not necessarily play as too big a factor on whether or not you try it yourself!