*Thanks to the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.
Round II of this little foray into Glenglassaugh’s young spirits finds us in a slightly more mature state of mind than the first round. While the Clearac and Peated offer a chance to try the distillery’s juice straight from the still, The Blushes and Fledgling XB show the effect of a short hiatus in wood before bottling.
The color might be a bit of a giveaway here, but…Blushes has been aged for 6 months in oak casks that previously held Californian red wine.
The Nose: Quite subtle and pleasant. The crisp, under-ripe pear of the Clearac is joined by grape skins and currants…it looks like a rosé, and it smells a bit like one, too. Dry sawdust and cardboard. A slight hint of spirity cough syrup.
The Palate: The initial sweetness definitely has a wine like cast to it, with a bit of bittersweet cocoa as well. Cinnamon and salted cashews. Towards the end, youthful almost beery grain gives it a sort of subtle, bitter “green” feel.
The Finish: Surprisingly lengthy and mouth-watering, lots of salted nuts and raisins with just a touch of the sour grain hanging about.
Thoughts: Like the Clearac, I found this young spirit to be surprisingly drinkable and smooth. I’m not sure the six months in wood have smoothed out that many rough edges, perhaps there’s less of a sour feint-y quality, but the influence of the barrels former resident is clear. There’s a light wine-y-ness, a little more dried fruit and nuts, that give this more complexity and drinkability than I expected. A successful and interesting experiment to be sure.
Glenglassaugh Blushes, Highland…but damn near Speyside
The “XB” in Fledgling XB stands for ex-bourbon, as in this was aged for 12 months in an ex-bourbon cask.
The Nose: Very smooth soft nose with canned pears in syrup, vanilla panna cotta and perhaps even rice pudding with raisins. Loitering in the background are some spirit-y plastic notes, but they’re pretty restrained for only having a years worth of maturation.
The Palate: Dark, dark chocolate and more tinned fruit. Grows quickly spicy with coarse vanilla bean, cardamom, and clove. A surprising amount of wood, not much relatively speaking, but more than I would’ve guessed for something so young. The young roughness of the grain is tempered but still there.
The Finish: Continued coarse grain and zippy youthful, slightly bitter, spices. I’d swear there was the tiniest wisp of dry wood smoke at the end, perhaps the char from the cask?
Thoughts: Like the Blushes, the Fledgling XB, is another interesting and worthwhile experiment. While not really something I could see myself reaching for at the end of the day, it is a surprisingly mature, complex spirit. The ex-bourbon influence is clear, lots of vanilla, spice and that little bit of char.
What I find fascinating about these two is that the very brief maturation provides a quick, clear picture of what each type of barrel adds to the spirit. There hasn’t been nearly enough time to build layers of complexity, so instead, one is treated to a tasty snapshot of the strongest, main characteristics. Kudos to Glenglassaugh for releasing this quartet and giving people the chance to really explore the spirit that will eventually make up their whisky.
Glennglassaugh Fledgling XB, Highland…but damn near Speyside
Scores: Not going to bother with scoring these, a new make spirit is far too different an animal to judge and score on the same basis as other aged whiskies and I don’t have enough experience with other new make to make an objective comparison.