Glengoyne “Cask Strength” (58.8%, OB, Batch #4, 2015)

In 2012 Glengoyne launched their NAS offering simply called “Cask Strength”, because that is what it is. A cask strength Whisky without an age statement. Before that, the Cask Strength offering did already exist, but it was also 12yo. In this case, rumours have it, that the Whisky isn’t all that young. So I don’t expect a 3yo Whisky with a few older casks thrown in to give it some depth. Sure there is “Burnfoot” and there are 5 batches of “Teapot Dram”, but that’s about it. No more NAS from Glengoyne. Nope, the regular range of Glengoyne is made up of good old-fashioned numbers like 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 25. Above that a recent 35yo comes into play, but expect to pay a lot of hard-earned cash for that one. Back to the one without a number, this time bottled at a hefty 58.8% ABV. I sometimes tend to whine a bit about Whiskies being reduced too much, well I don’t think that will be the case this time. Lets find out if it’s any good, shall we?

glengoyne-cask-strength-batch-4Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Nice funky Sherry, cask toast, mocha and vanilla. Funky as in not sparkling or fruity, nope, its deeper and more brooding than that. Less welcoming and dark. Medieval. Bread and barley, lots of it. Warm (toasted) bread, so definitely a cereal note. No trace of new make spirit though, so it’s not a 3yo NAS. However, there is some youth to it. Nevertheless, sometimes, it really does remind me a bit of Whisky made some time ago as well, so definitely a Whisky with multiple facets. Next whiff is of a slightly floral and herbal perfume. This could be interesting. When given some time to breathe, hints of new make do emerge, and the funky, sulky notes from the start, ease up a bit, to become more friendly and floral. Glengoyne are adamant about not using peat, but this does have a smoky note probably provided by toasted (Sherry) oak. It gives it more backbone and a bigger aroma. Meaty. Dusty vanilla powder. This is an autumn Whisky. If it’s October, bad weather, this is your dram. I like it. If I had to sum it up in a few words: Cereal, (American) oak and Sherry. Well balanced yet not all that complex though, also lacking some development and balance. This could do with some more ageing, which would obviously affect the price.

Taste: Barley, bread and quite sweet. Lots of Sherry and creamy notes. Fruity with a nice oaky bite. Old warehouse. Right from the start already better than the nose. More balance and tastier than it smells. Sure its a bit hot, because it has a lot of alcohol and the wood is also quite active. Lots of wood notes. Pencil shavings and oak from the start. Vanilla but also toasted oak and virgin oak. More pencil shavings. The woody bit is quite nice and kept in check by the sweetness of the Malt. A winning combination. The entry is great and the body nice big and sweet. The sweetness isn’t lasting though making way for a more woody, dry and (fruity) acidic side of the Whisky. It’s a two-stage Whisky. Again, not the most complex in the world, but very tasty and very good value to boot. Definitely one for drinking and less for smelling if you ask me, unless you are patient and let it breathe for quite some time. It gains a lot in the balance department that way.

You’ve got to love Glengoyne, for advertising not using peat for drying their malt. Especially when the world is peat-mad. Hey even Glendronach and several other Speyside distilleries offer peated expressions. When will we see a peated expression of Glengoyne? Remember Macallan advertising that their dram is so special because of the hand-picked Oloroso casks? Well look what happened there… No fuss at Glengoyne, just like Springbank. Making Whisky their way and doing it well. No funny names, no marketing tricks, mostly age statements, although Teapot Dram almost is a funny name.

Points: 84 (same score as Batch #1, but not as high as the previous 12yo cask strength expressions that I scored between 86 to 88 points)

Thanks go out to Alan for the sample, thanks mate!

Glengoyne 12yo 1994/2006 (43%, OB, SC, Rum Finish, Cask #909310, 348 bottles)

Just like the 10yo Edradour I just reviewed, Glengoyne also has a 1994 vintage, which was used for a lot of different cask finishes. Claret, Madeira, Manzanilla, Muscatel, Cornalin and a lot of Rum finishes were released between 2005 and 2008. Some were bottled at cask strength, and some were reduced to 43% ABV. All the other Rum finishes have a cask number of 5 digits, so this one was probably cask #90931. Maybe they have added an additional “0” to distinguish this bottling from the rest since this is the only one that has been reduced. Maybe an administrative mistake was made…

Glengoyne 12yo 1994/2006 (43%, OB, SC, Rum Finish, Cask #909310, 348 bottles)Color: Gold.

Nose: Excellent full-on Rum smell. Spicy, fatty dirty. I’m guessing high ester Rum. Jamaican? Hard to tell. Sugar cane and very leafy. For some this may be finished too long, but I’m not one of them. I love the synergy between Rum casks and Single Malt Whisky, but I may have said that before. Extremely deep. What a nice combination of smells. Wonderful depth and a wealth of complexity with lavas and balsamic vinegar. Where did that come from? The Whisky, The Rum or the wood? If it’s the wood, the wood turns to a more cleaner oaky note. Fresh windy forest and some warm butter on toast (not burnt). Even a slightly soapy note.

Taste: Well this is less complex than the nose is. Where the nose explodes with aroma, the taste is much simpler. Most definitely a sweet Whisky. Sugar water and yes, some nice leafy wood influence. Paper and floral cardboard, whatever that is. The taste is built around some different wood flavours, sugared tropical fruit, dried orange skim and cold black tea. The finish is quite long, but again pretty simple a bit bitter and buttery.

Not so long ago I reviewed a few Rum finished Whiskies and I said I have always liked them. This one is no different. Fantastic nose, and the taste is good. However, this one is not a daily drinker. For that it is too fatty and sweet.

Points: 84 (but with a 90’s nose, if you like Rum)

Thanks go out to René for providing the sample (a while back).

Glengoyne 21yo 1985/2006 (53%, OB, First Fill Sherry Butt #629, 632 bottles)

Two years ago Master Quill had a week specially dedicated to Glengoyne. In that week I reviewed a Glengoyne from 1985 called “Summer” a Limited Release. There also was a Winter (1984 Vintage), a Spring (1972 Vintage) and an obviously an Autumn (1969 Vintage). Essentially all four are Single Cask releases (SC) like the one I’ll be reviewing shortly. This 1985 should be quite interesting since it was drawn from a sister cask of the “Summer”. Summer was drawn from cask #608, and this SC was drawn from cask #629, so that should be interesting.

Glengoyne 21yo 1985/2006 (53%, OB, First Fill Sherry Butt #629, 632 bottles)Color: Mahogany brown.

Nose: Nice Oloroso Sherry nose, with lots of fruits. Fresh and acidic. Wonderful depth. Earthy and dusty, but never dull or heavy. Creamy with hints of vanilla. A very vibrant fruity nose. This probably was a considered a contender for the “Summer” spot. Small hints of warm asphalt. Dusty with some licorice, mocha and licorice. Meringue. Extremely balanced and likeable.

Taste: Cardboard, almonds and quite some licorice again. Warming. Spicy and soft old wood. Creamy and very nice. Fruity vanilla, pudding with warmed up red fruits on top (part fruit, part sauce). Spicy sharpness (hot) because of the alcohol, without that, quite soft and creamy. Slight acidic touch towards the finish, and enough wood. Again, just like the nose. Extremely balanced. Wonderful Oloroso Sherried bottling.

Although a very good Glengoyne Single Cask, I thought the “Summer” was even better. More complexity and even better integrated aroma’s. A bigger body and an even better finish. However, make no mistake. This Butt #629 is no dud, far from it. Hardly any Sherry bottling these days is a good as this is. You know the lonesome tropical Island question, and what to take? If I had to take this one instead of the “Summer” I still would go in a heartbeat!

Points: 89

Glengoyne 36yo 1969/2006 (45.9%, OB, Single Cask, Refill Hogshead #3691, 174 bottles)

300!Time to take a moment and celebrate. Not just to celebrate that the first winter month of 2014 is already over and we are one month closer to summer, (at least over here we are), but also since this is the 300th post on Master Quill, I’ll take a look at this Glengoyne from “my” year: 1969. Enjoy!

Last April Master Quill hosted the Glengoyne Week and here is already the next oldie from Glengoyne. Old as in a 36yo Whisky, old as in a 1969 distillate and old since, Glengoyne is an old distillery. Founded in 1833! Nineteenth century distillery folks! When it started it was named Burnfoot, now you know why there is a Glengoyne Burnfoot in the shops. Burnfoot started out with one pair of stills. As we all know Burnfoot it isn’t today so a change of name should have been made. In 1876 the name of the distillery was changed to…Glenguin, well almost there. In 1905 the spelling was changed to Glengoyne. In 1965 a third still was added to the distillery. In 2003 Ian MacLeod Distillers (You know of the Chieftain’s and the Dun Bheagan’s) bought the distillery from the previous owner Edrington (Macallan and Highland Park amongst others), and are doing well with the distillery. So happy with this purchase, in 2011 they also bought Tamdhu from the Edrington group. One year later (2012) they revamped their standard range. Just have a look here for a review of the newest 12yo.

Color: Orange gold (slightly cloudy).

Nose: Oh yes! Yes! Nice waxyness that can only be found in old bottles. fresh cookie dough. Visions of Caperdonich. Fruit bomb, but also apple-cake soaked with alcoholic cherry fruit syrup. Smells very sweet (marzipan) and fruity, faded orange skin. Old mahogany furniture (without the wax and without the wood, it just the oldness). The soaked cake I mentioned above has some raisins in light rum. Also a honeyed note that resembles the honey from some Bourbons or Rye Whiskies (so only the honey). Great dusty and perfumy stuff, and sometimes murky whiffs pass by.

Taste: Sweet and syrupy and again very fruity. Yellow (apricots) and red (sweet cherries) fruit. Vanilla Ice-cream with raisins. The body is not very strong, nor does it have the longest of finishes. It also has an exotic side that reminds me a bit of a sweet yet very high-class Gewürztraminer.

Very nice stuff I can thoroughly enjoy, just a bit weaker second half. But who cares. Close your eyes and listen to some good music in the dark with this in your glass, life doesn’t get much better than that!

Points: 90

Glengoyne Week – Day 7: Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)

Oh no, we’re already at the end of the Glengoyne week, quelle misère! This is always the moment with a little bit of melancholy. That moment when you’ve been with a good friend for a week and you know he or she has to leave. Waving goodbye at the train station or the airport. Going home alone with a little tear in the corner of your eye.

We are going to see our friend from Scotland off with the only independent bottling of Glengoyne in this Glengoyne week, and the only distillate from the seventies, the rest being eighties and one fairly new Glengoyne on day one. Here we have also the only Glengoyne that was bottled by The Nectar from Belgium together with Bresser & Timmer from The Netherlands.

Glengoyne 37yo 1972/2010 (52%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram, The Nectar and Bresser & Timmer)Color: Sparkling gold.

Nose: Waxy and fruity, like an old Duncan Taylor Caperdonich from the same year. Honeysuckle, and lots of it. This is so good, it can be worn as a perfume, amongst Whisky drinkers that is. Floral. Given some time the Whisky noses more elegant. After the initial weight of the wax and yellow fruit (that dissipates), it becomes more fresh, like walking on the beach in fall. Clean, maybe. The wood kicks in too, I mean the wood is noticeable, also a slight toast to it. Spicy. This one has utter balance. Caperdonichs and Glengoynes from 1972, I you haven’t tried them already, do it! In a short while they’ll get extinct or priceless, and you’ll be the poorer for it, not having had the experience…

Taste: Sweet, fruity and full, I already don’t want to write more notes now, I want to enjoy my dram! Somebody has to do the job, so I’ll sacrifice myself yet again. Bugger! The syrupy sweetness goes smoothly into the spiciness of the wood. Lemon sherbet and more yellow fruits, some peaches, dried apricots? Cardboard and vanilla ice-cream. Just a slight imbalance in the finish, but who cares, putting this in your mouth again makes up for that, you’ll only finish the bottle a little sooner than you meant to do. The finish in fact is not that heavy too, a tiny flaw.

It is a great dram. I was only surprised that the waxiness together with the fruitiness are here in the beginning, just not here to stay in the nose. tastewise it does stay. Well picked by Mario Groteklaes.

So that’s it, we are done for the moment with Glengoyne, and we are done with the fourth ‘week’ on Master Quill. In the end this independently bottle of Glengoyne got the highest score, with an almost equally briljant and newer ‘summer’ edition in the runner-up position. Actually the odds were a bit uneven since this Glengoyne is from the seventies and therefore well older than the rest of the contenders, but who said it was a contest? Through the rest of the offerings reviewed in this Glengoyne week, it can be clearly seen that Glengoyne makes a high quality whisky with multiple facets to it. Keep up the good work!

Points: 92

Thanks go out to Nico for providing the sample!

Glengoyne Week – Day 6: Glengoyne 19yo 1985/2004 ‘Summer’ (52.6%, OB, Cask #608, 606 bottles)

After the cold, cold winter we actually had (are still having), with lots of snow, I guess it’s time for a nice long hot summer! First day of spring went by some time ago, and it still was snowing on that day, so I guess we all need a bit of summer in our lives. Unlike yesterday’s 1984, 1985 is a year more common to find a Glengoyne from. In 2006 Glengoyne even bottled a sister cask of this ‘Summer’ edition, that was a Butt, so it’s probably safe to assume, that this is from a Butt as well.

Color: Dark orange brown.

Nose: Typical musty Sherry. Spicy and leafy. Butter, honey and raisins. Mocha coffee. Coal and tar. This is by far the best dark Sherry cask up untill now in this Glengoyne week. A slightly acidic freshness, like lemon pie inside a raisiny heavily sherried dram. Dusty old polished wood, with ageing lacquer on it. Dark fruits emerge afer a while, Blueberries! Perfect balance and lots of character.

Taste: Big body, spicy with just the right amount of wood, and almonds. Did I say wood? It’s not just any kind of wood, this is tarry wood, steam locomotive wood. Blueberries infused in honey, with some added acidity. Again very balanced stuff this. It reminds me a bit of the great Longmorn’s of the early seventies. Those are legendary, and Glengoyne were able to make this in the mid eighties! Were are it’s sister casks?!?!

This cask was bottled in 2004, so it wasn’t around anymore when the mashmen of Glengoyne made their choices, so let’s call this, this consumers choice.

Points: 91

Thanks go out to Erik (Master Quill’s apprentice) for providing the sample.

Glengoyne Week – Day 5: Glengoyne 19yo 1984/2004 ‘Winter’ (58.2%, OB, Cask #1464, 576 bottles)

So, after three ‘Mashman’s choices’ from 2006, we now move into even (c)older bottlings. Next up is this Glengoyne “Winter” that was distilled in the winter of 1984, and bottled in 2004. This bottle is a limited edition of 576 bottles so most probably a Sherry Butt (or Puncheon). 1984 is also a year not a lot of official Glengoynes come from, I actually know of only one other, Sherry Cask #790, that was bottled already in 1998.

The label reads the following fabulous text: “Distilled in winter 1984, this limited edition has captured the essence of the season. A bouquet of snowdrops and pears. A frosty and clean palate that exudes honey and mellow spices reminiscent of a hot toddy”. A hot toddy is a hot drink made with rum, star anise or cloves, lemon and cinnamon. Well I can’t wait to try a Whisky that has all these ingredients in it!

Color: Light gold.

Nose: Very “Fino” Sherry. Clean. Little hint of smoke and hot butter. Salty bacon. The meaty component moves in and out of the picture. It’s also fresh, with a little bit of menthol. Give it some time and warm it up in your hand, some neat organics develop. A little bit of wood, but less than expected with a 19yo malt. Cold butter too, perfumy and elegant.

Taste: Sweet. Clay and a little bit hot (It’s almost 60% ABV.) Here some toasted wood and again that distinct saltiness. Bitter orange marmalade. There is a lot of sweetness to this, to counterpart the wood and it’s influences. Near the end quite a lot of spicy wood, with matching bitter and slightly soapy finish, with lots of malt. Still this Whisky has a lot of complexity to it and shows many faces. A quality work of art.

My first guess would have been Fino Sherry, but going further I would say Manzanilla Sherry. Manzanilla’s are also made in the Fino way, but have a salty touch, and due to the smoke and hints of saltiness in this Whisky, I would say Manzanilla. For me Fino or Manzanilla casks are pretty good casks for Whisky, but they never are easy. This one too, it’s not a you-like-it-immediately malt, but you have to work on it a bit, as opposed to, lets say, Oloroso cask. Work it, warm it, let it move a lot inside the glass and a wonderful complexity emerges. For me a sort of connoisseurs malt. I will score this the same as the last two choices I reviewed earlier, but no need to inform you again that this Sherry cask is way different from the two darker ones, but equally as good. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The fabulous list of ingredients: Rum? Nope. Star Anise? Nope. Lemon? Well, no. Cinnamon? Not really. Cloves? Again no. Snowdrops? I haven’t tried snowdrops yet, have you? Pears? Nope. Honey, nope it’s more sugary sweet. As I said, a wonderful piece of literature, by someone who obviously had a cold, or maybe I have a cold right now? I wish it was summer already.

Points: 87

Glengoyne Week – Day 4: Glengoyne 20yo 1986/2006 ‘Peter’s Choice’ (51%, OB, PX Butt #433, 603 bottles)

Well here you go, day four and here is the third and last of the Mashman’s choices from Glengoyne. Hardly a surprise after the last two days, isn’t it? This time a Pedro Ximénez Sherry Butt. Pedro Ximénez or PX for short, is a very sweet dessert Sherry. Oloroso Sherry were always considered to be the best for maturing Whisky, but it turns out that PX Casks are very good too. Let’s see how this PX-Glengoyne will do.

This is wat Peter had to say about his choice: “sweet, rich, wonderful and moves beautifully when shoogled*, just the way I like my whisky and my women!” So Peter shoogles his women? I mush have a go and shoogle my granny then!

Color: Sparkling copper brown, almost with a red tinge.

Nose: Quite fresh and light, but also raisins and alcohol. Dusty powdery wood. Utterly balanced, but not very outspoken. Charlie’s choice was definitely more ‘heavy’, this is friendlier. Dry meaty and slightly woody. Very slick and elegant yet again. Not a sherry monster. Honey sweetness and leafy.

Taste: Again very elegant, and sweet, easily recognizable as a PX Sherry. There is wood, but not very much, also something hoppy, with a hint of soap. The body is firm enough to withstand the soap, so don’t see that as a problem. The whole is thinner than Charlie’s choice though. The finish here is again beer-like and a bit sour. If that had stayed more fatty and sweet, that this would have been a score into the 90’s.

A very nice pick by Mashman Peter, may the shoogle be with you! This is the last of the Choices from personnel of the Glengoyne distillery, tomorrow the choice is mine again! Nosing the three Mashman’s choices, I would say the best nose is on Charlie. Tastewise it is a tie between Charlie and Peter, where Charlie is more brutal, or sporty, and Peter is more dressed to the occasion, so to speak. Both score the same and which one is better is dependent on how you feel. So two ties here, one between Charlie and Peter and a second between Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez.

Points: 88

* Shoogle is a Scottish word which means to gently shake or agitate.

Glengoyne Week – Day 3: Glengoyne 17yo 1989/2006 ‘Charlie’s Choice’ (56%, OB, First Fill Oloroso Hogshead #1231, 279 bottles)

Day three brings us another one of the three 2006 Mashman’s Choices. The first one being an American Oak Sherry Butt from 1991. That one was pretty special, since Sherry once only came from Spanish or French oak Butts and Puncheons. Today’s Glengoyne, comes form another atypical Sherry Cask, a Hogshead. No information this time where the wood came from. Charlie Murray, the Mashman, said the following about his choice:

“In my time at Glengoyne this is the best cask I have tasted. Heaps of complexity with no rough edges.”

Color: Dark copper brown (murky).

Nose: Very spicy, old mahogany furniture. Lively, floral and elegant, and maybe a tad soapy. But altogether excellent. It’s not you usual stuffy dark sherried Whisky, nope, this is something else. Some tar, licorice and smoke! A ditch in the countryside after a nice fresh downpour of rain. Powdery and complex, it shows itself in layers, for me a sign of excellent whisky. Pencil lead and meaty. Nice expression of the wood. Elegant and refined. Smells like it was made with coal. Stunning nose.

Taste: Full and petrochemical (that’s a good thing here!). Nice wood and leafy, rotting leaves that is. Pencil shavings and tobacco. Licorice. The toast of the cask presents itself as smoke, quite unusual. The taste is bolder (than the nose), but keeps its elegance. After the full body the finish breaks down a little bit too soon. Warming alcohol. Some time after swallowing, leaves you with a beer like taste in your mouth. Did I say unusual already?

A great pick by Charles Owen Murray, it’s a great Glengoyne, but surely it couldn’t have been the best? Maybe Charlie was drunk at the time he was asked about this release, or Charlie didn’t get the chance to try a lot of Whisky 😉 It may not be the best, but very good indeed. It certainly is special, and a tad unusual to boot.

Points: 88

Glengoyne Week – Day 2: Glengoyne 15yo 1991/2006 ‘Jim’s Choice’ (57%, OB, American Oak Sherry Butt #1083, 693 bottles)

We lifted off safely, and now we are on our way with Glengoyne. In 2005 Glengoyne started a series of ‘Choices’. In 2005 the Lucky choices were made by stillmen Ronnie, Ewan and Duncan. In 2006 the mashmen Peter, Jim and Charlie had a go, and finally in 2007 Billie, Deek and Robbie chose their casks to be bottled. Good choice, bad choiceRobbie is the distillery manager and Deek and Billie are warehousemen.

Today’s Butt was chosen by mashman James ‘Jim’ Leslie. This sort of this is always interesting to me. A Sherry Butt made of American oak, instead of Spanish or French oak.

Jim’s said the following about his choice; “I love Glengoyne at this age – the cask and the whisky are perfectly balanced. There is plenty of sweet fruit and rich oak.”

Color: Gold.

Nose: Wow, nice and spicy, apples, waxy with cold toasted wood. Rotting leaves. Not woody at all. Very lively and fresh. Fresh cut grass. Given some time the wood does start to play its part. Wood related vanilla (dry, as opposed to ‘sweet’ ice cream). Barley, mocha and clean, slightly sour oak. Also some varnish.

Taste: Spicy and elegant wood. Fino Sherry. Tobacco and cigar box. Slightly soapy, which also makes it a little bit unbalanced. The initial sweetness is gone quite quickly. Barley and dried grass. Pickle water (sweet/sour). Where the soap affects the balance of this Whisky, the finish does that too. It breaks down rather quick, and the whole palate is too much dominated by wood. No need to tell you that the finish is dry.

Well, for a Glengoyne this is a bit disappointing, and that’s saying a lot! Nosing it, I can imagine Jim to choose this, but on the palate there are so much more beautiful Glengoynes around. Especially the balance of the palate could have been better. Not bad.

Points: 86