Glenburgie is one of those Malts with a profile that just suits me well. Most of it is used for blending, and not a lot of official bottlings exist. The owners are definitely not putting it in the spotlight I personally feel it deserves. Sure, the quality is there, but maybe Glenburgie is just too unknown to the general public and therefore hard to market. There are two bottlings released under the Ballantines label, a 15yo “Ballantine’s series no. 001” and a 18yo “Ballantine’s series no. 001”. Both are bottled at a whopping 40% ABV, so definitely targeted at the (adventurous) Ballantine’s drinker. For a Single Malt, 40% ABV was very nice in the seventies and before, but is not very 21st century if you ask me. Both bottlings seem rather obsolete (apart for the group mentioned earlier). I guess Pernod Ricard (Chivas Bros.), the owners, like, for instance, Aberlour a lot more. That “brand” definitely receives a lot more love from the company. Rightly so, it is an excellent Single Malt (but so is Glenburgie). The blend where most of Glenburgie goes into, is obviously Ballantine’s but also Old Smuggler and Teacher’s contain a lot of Glenburgie. For Anoraks there are some pretty rare 500 ml single cask bottlings or Distillery Reserve’s. Nope, If we want to have a serious taste and get a feel for Glenburgie, we are yet again saved by the ever so important independent bottlers (all hail to them all!), who luckily are able to put out Glenburgie for you and I to enjoy. In this case in comes Elixir Distillers of London…
Color: White Wine.
Nose: Creamy and lemony, yet also dusty and waxy. Soft mocha and slightly funky. Initially quite closed and smells a little bit dull, dusty and something like a wood shop. Old sawdust though, not the fresh stuff, that has been lying around for quite some time. Trodden down. Perfumy, and somewhat elegant, yet different than the elegance of the Macduff 10yo from the previous review. Actually typical for a refill hogshead. I expected more of a fruity nose to be honest. Slightly smoky nose, ever so slightly, maybe this comes from the toasted insides of the cask. Some dry kitchen spices come next, as well as some honey, hints of pine and fresh rain. Still closed, yet some well balanced beautiful details come up from the liquid. It seems a bit shy.
Taste: Quite sweet on entry and definitely way more fruity than the nose. Again some smoke and toasty bits, as well as some cannabis I sometimes also get in Bunnahabhain. This, plus the detailed nose, make the Whisky special. Quite tasty, even at this ABV. Sure, it is a bit hot going down, but the onset and the body are very nice. Where the nose was a bit closed, no problem like that here. Tastes open and ready to please you, me, us, the drinker(s). The cannabis bit returns in the finish where the aftertaste shows us some more of the wood the cask was made of. The roof of my mouth clearly shows this is a high ABV Malt, something that didn’t come to mind when tasting it initially. By the way, ripe, sweet yellow fruits also pop up in the aftertaste. The finish, as well as the aftertaste are the best traits of this Malt. When this is bottle is gone (and it almost is), I’m going to miss it. Glenburgie spirit is wonderful, both in Ex-Sherry and Ex-Bourbon casks. I have a soft spot for it.
I have said it before and I am going to say it again. This is yet another Whisky that really needed (a lot of) time to breathe. The second half of the bottle was better than the first half. A very laid back Malt, or so it seemed just by smelling it. Still, having spent some time with this in my glass, I do have a late found fondness for this Glenburgie. I like Glenburgie so I was a bit disappointed with this one at first. Not so much now, yet I think it is a bit of a shame that it wasn’t as good as it is now, from the moment you open the bottle. If decanting would work for a Whisky, this would be one to experiment with. The beauty of this one is also in the details, because it has those almost hidden elements that make it special. So, good for analysing and anoraks, not so much for casual sipping. It is certainly not an easy one. If you are new to Single Malt Whisky and you have this, keep it, don’t open it all to soon.