Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish

Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood FinishDistillery: Glenglassaugh
Region: Highland
Age: No age statement
abv: 46%

Throughout its turbulent history, Glenglassaugh distillery has closed and re-opened more times than I care to mention here. Since its last reboot in 2008 though, the distillery has gone from strength to strength. Whereas in past decades Glenglassaugh’s whisky featured mostly in blends such as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark, these days its proudly bottled as single malt. Initially this was done through a small core range, but in recent years the distillery has also experimented with limited expressions through their Wood Finishes Series. This particular bottling was not only finished in port pipes, but also made from the distillery’s peated malt – the very same that’s used for Glenglassaugh Torfa. The result is something quite special, a delicious concoction of Highland peat and sumptuous forest fruits.

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Arran Port Cask Finish

Arran Port Cask Finish 01Distillery: Isle of Arran
Region: Islands
Age: No age statement
abv: 50%

It seems natural to compare the Arran Port Cask with the Madeira Cask, given the similarities between these two types of fortified wine. I tend to contrast it with the different effects that an Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez sherry finish can have on a whisky, but since I’m by no means a wine expert, I will quickly move to safer (whisky) ground. Because despite their similar maturation, it’s striking how different the Arran Port Cask and Madeira Cask actually are. Sure, they share the same Arran characteristics, but underneath this there’s a completely distinct flavour profile for each.

The Arran Port Cask was aged in American oak for about 8 years, before being transferred to ex-port casks. This extra maturation has enhanced Arran’s fruity flavours even further, but has also mellowed some of the freshness usually found in Arran whiskies, substituting it for an enigmatic finesse.  Many other cask finishes have come and gone from Arran’s core range, but the Port Cask remains. While this may have something to do with the availability of casks, it’s certainly also an indication that Arran Port Cask has been a big hit. I for one am thankful that this whisky is still on the shelves, as it’s a dram I love to come back to!

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Talisker Port Ruighe

Talisker Port Ruighe ReviewDistillery: Talisker
Region: Islands
Age: No age statement
abv: 45.8%

In the face of overwhelming demand, it seems that many distilleries are making changes to their range. Faced with finite stocks, it becomes harder for whisky makers to guarantee a continuous supply of aged whisky. Enter the No Age Statement (NAS) expression: often a vatting of whiskies of different ages, allowing distillers more flexibility to meet fluctuations in demand. Talisker is no different: while the 10 year old is fortunately still widely available, the 18 year old has increased in price dramatically. Instead, consumers can now choose from NAS bottlings such as Skye, (Dark) Storm and Neist Point. While in my opinion this new range is quite a mixed bag, Talisker Port Ruighe clearly stands out as one of the highlights, and an example that the negative publicity NAS whiskies receive is not always justified.

Port Ruighe is the Gaelic translation for Portree, the largest town on Skye, and once a centre of maritime commerce. This Talisker has received a double maturation in port casks, and is billed as “a toast to the Scottish traders who braved the high seas and were instrumental in the foundation of the port wine trade”. Marketing aside, with a whisky this enjoyable I am willing to raise a glass to whatever, whenever. Slàinte!

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Laphroaig Brodir

laphroaig-brodir-01Distillery: Laphroaig
Region: Islay
Age: No age statement
abv: 48%

You don’t need to be a linguist to guess the meaning of Laphroaig’s latest expression. Brodir means Brother in Norse, a nod to the close historical connections between Islay and the Vikings that once roamed the island. Keeping in line with the latest Laphroaig expressions, Brodir was initially meant as a travel retail exclusive, but can now be bought pretty much anywhere. After an initial maturation in ex-bourbon barrels, this whisky was transferred to European oak casks that previously held ruby port. This finish has provided an extra layer of sweetness and sophistication, resulting in a softer Laphroaig than we are used to. In this sense, Brodir is very much in tune with its siblings, Laphroaig QA Cask and PX Cask. Brodir does come with quite a hefty price tag, which may raise some eyebrows for what is another NAS bottling. However, a lack of age statement certainly does not translate into a lack of flavour, as Brodir brims with depth, complexity and elegance. And of course, as may be expected from a Laphroaig, a healthy measure of peat smoke. Very tasty stuff!

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