Glenlossie 14-year-old Picolit Wine Cask Finish (Pintail)



An old name reborn…

Pintail is a series of independently bottled spirits with a focus on Scotch whiskies that have been finished in former wine casks. The name, that of a duck with pointed tail feathers, once belonged to a Blended Scotch brand created by Perthshire-based Matthew Gloag & Sons, a company better known for its close association with another bird, a rather famous one at that…

Matthew Gloag and his wife Margaret took over a grocer in Perth in 1824. Matthew could see the rise in popularity of Scotch whisky and introduced its sale to the new family business. When his son, William, took over in 1860 he increased the focus on whisky and in 1896, the company adopted the red grouse as its motif. It became known as Gloag’s Grouse and as its popularity soared, it became simply, The Famous Grouse.

The whisky business remained in the family for decades and expansion in the 1930s saw a new bottling plant established in Perth and several new brands launched, one of which, was the aforementioned Pintail. In 1947, the business was taken over by Fred Gloag, great-grandson of Matthew and fourth generation of the family to take the helm. Following his death in 1970, however, the Gloags decided to sell to Highland Distilleries, the company that would later become Edrington.

The Whisky

For whatever reason, the Pintail brand didn’t last but it has now been resurrected by the Whisky Cellar. The expression in question today comes from Glenlossie Distillery, a Diageo-owned Speyside that dates from 1876. Official bottlings from this distillery are limited to a single release in the Flora & Fauna series but thanks to indie bottlers like Pintail, whisky lovers have an opportunity to acquaint themselves with its charms.

The whisky has been finished in a cask that previously held Picolit wine. Picolit grapes are grown in the northeast of Italy and the wine it produces has enjoyed something of a cult following over the years. Its relatively low yield makes it unpopular with commercial wineries but the balance of acidity and sugar lends itself well to dessert wine production. It should make for a very interesting partner to the Speyside whisky of Glenlossie…

Smell: Apples and pears. Lemon. Grapes. Marmalade. Barley malt. Nutty – cashews and particularly almonds. Marzipan fruits. Gentle spices – black pepper and cardamom.

Taste: Wonderful fruity arrival with apple, pear, orange and peach. Perhaps even some nectarine. The fruits mingle with honey and golden syrup. Wonderful oiliness on the palate. Lemon and lime. Marmalade. Hobnob biscuits. Gentle spice and oak on the finish with some marzipan and mango pieces.

Thoughts: This is just delicious. It’s got a lovely oily, waxy texture that coats the mouth and the cask strength of 53.4% gives intense flavour without being too hot. The Picolit is a really interesting finish that matches Glenlossie’s typical Speyside character with lots of fresh fruit and nutty almonds. It feels like a great advert for independent bottlers – it’s a single malt that isn’t widely available, it’s been finished in an unusual cask, it’s bottled un-chill-filtered at cask strength and for a 14-year-old single cask, it’s priced very reasonably. One of my favourite purchases of the year so far.

Price: £80. Not bad for a 14-year-old single cask and the quality in the bottle more than lives up to the price.

For more on The Whisky Cellar visit here

For more on Pintail visit here

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