Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
This intriguing single malt is the latest release in Glasgow Distillery’s Small Batch Series. The distillery produces three varieties of single malt – unpeated, peated and triple distilled. The Glasgow 1770 Red Wine & Ruby Port Cask Finish is the first time two of those spirits have been blended together for an official release. The recipe sees peated malt that was matured in virgin American white oak and finished in Bordeaux red wine casks blended with triple distilled spirit matured in first-fill bourbon and finished in ruby port. With that in mind, it’s probably a safe bet that there’s going to be a lot going on in this dram.
For some people, this might all seem a bit much. I confess that even I had a moment’s pause when I first saw red wine and ruby port mentioned in the same release. Throw in peated and triple-distilled spirit and it feels a bit like a throw-everything-and-see-what-sticks approach. However, I’ve crossed this bridge with Glasgow before. Some of their previous concoctions have seemed a lot on paper but upon tasting them I’ve been surprised by how well they were put together.
For all the talk of modernisation, there are sections of the whisky world that still shudder at the thought of such creativity. For some, Scotch whisky should be aged in bourbon casks or sherry casks, end of story. I understand a devotion to the things that made Scotch whisky great but the opportunity to explore new flavours should never be ignored. That freedom of expression within the parameters of what constitutes Scotch whisky is one of the things I find so exciting. I wouldn’t want every dram to go down this route, but I’m glad some do.
There’s a lot of talk about “place” in whisky at the minute. How distilleries and their single malts fit into their landscape and community is a fascinating area to delve into. From my own point of view, single malt does seem to be at its best and most engaging when it captures something of the essence of the place it comes from and the people who make it. Where Glasgow is concerned, what better way to capture the essence of Scotland’s most modern, most diverse, most vibrant city, than by producing such boldly flavoured spirits that showcase a whole variety of influences?
Glasgow 1770 Red Wine & Ruby Port Cask Finish
Smell: As expected, there’s a lot going on. Things are a wee bit jumbled when you first stick your nose in the glass. Like it’s hard to decipher. There’s some noticeable smoke and some oaky spice and with time in the glass, the effects of the finishing casks become clear. There’s strawberry jam, cherry and plum. Barbecue sauce. Toffee. Pepper. Cinnamon. Tobacco. A little nuttiness. With a splash of water, it finds some balance. Even some vanilla now and orange liqueur.
Taste: Spicy oak tingle on the lips and palate. Cayenne and paprika. Stewed fruits. Fruit jam on burnt toast. Plummy red wine is prominent. Lots of pepper with ashy smoke coming through at the back. Nice weight on the palate. Mellowed slightly by water. Port and wine to the fore on arrival, developing into oak and smoke towards the finish.
Thoughts: It’s actually nothing like as confused as it first appears. The red wine and ruby port complement each other very well and the smoke of the peated malt gives it some proper whisky character. I feel like it should be too much and that it shouldn’t come together but it does and best of all, it is still recognisably Scotch whisky. A new spin, a fresh take, but unmistakably single malt Scotch whisky.
Price: £59. Won’t be for the traditionalists but those who give it a chance should be satisfied.
For more on Glasgow Distillery Co visit https://www.glasgowdistillery.com/