Wednesday, August 13, 2014
When you hear the words "Scotch whisky" you probably think "Glenlivet" or "Glenfiddich" or maybe just visualize the iconic green triangular Glenfiddich bottle. Of course, there are so many other distilleries, even ones that start with the first four letters: Glen . . . but then you draw a blank having never heard of them.
You probably have never heard of "Glenburgie," but you may actually already be familiar with it. Glenburgie is a little known Speyside distillery that produces a lot of malt whisky for some blended Scotch whiskies that are household names: Chivas Regal 12 years, Ballantine's Finest, Old Smuggler.
It is always an enjoyable exercise to try the core malts that make up famous blends to see if the malts are better on their own.
I was able to try Glenburgie because the independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail have released a 10 year old, which I picked up for the very reasonable price of $44 in Canada. In the US, you will get this much cheaper.
'Independent bottlers' are companies that typically do not own distilleries, but still manage to have a hand in bringing to market great single malts. These companies buy up stocks of surplus malt from various distilleries, age them in various casks, and then bottle when they consider the malt is at its zenith. Some of these companies do a brilliant job in this regard. Gordon & MacPhail is one of them.
By way of astute cask selection, aging in their own warehouses, Gordon & MacPhail is able to take what was a mediocre or subpar malt and transform it into an interesting and sometimes even marvelous single malt.
They have succeeded with Glenburgie 10 years.
Malty, cereal, warm apple pie.
Sweet entry of baklava/marzipan, vanilla, oatmeal with a dash of brown sugar.
Florida oranges, crisp red grape skins, lemon zest.
Great value for money here. A little complexity too! Virtually no peat or smoke, so if you are a novice whisky fan who is put off by Islay malts, rest assured Glenburgie is a traditional Speysider that will not offend. Smooth, not offensive, very quaffable malt that starts sweet but nicely transitions and become drying by time of the finish.