Glentauchers is a distillery that not many people have heard of, let alone tried. But it plays an integral role in shaping the character of two of the biggest blends on the market: Ballantine’s and Chivas Regal.
The distillery is also an anachronism as rather than follow the lead of other distilleries in Scotland and embrace modern equipment and techniques, the owners have made the conscious decision of retaining the traditional aspects of the distillation process.
The main reason for doing so would be so that Glentauchers can be seen as the prime training ground on which new employees and trainees can learn the basic techniques required to make whisky.
The distillery was founded in 1897 by James Buchanan (of Buchanan’s and Black & White blended whisky fame) and W. P. Lowrie, who was a whisky merchant from Glasgow. Buchanan then took full ownership of the distillery in 1908 and subsequently merged with Dewars in 1915.
The merged Buchanan-Dewars entity then joined the famous Distillers Company Limited (DCL), who were the predecessors of Diageo, in 1925 and the ownership of Glentauchers was transferred to Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) 5 years later.
The distillery was expanded several times by DCL and was then mothballed in 1985 due to the lack of demand for whisky. In 1989, ownership of the distillery transferred from DCL to Caledonian Malt Whisky Distillers, which was a subsidiary of Allied Distillers.
Allied Distillers were themselves purchased by Pernod Ricard in 2002 and the ownership of Glentauchers now resides within the control of the French spirits conglomerate.
While the distillery may be rather obscure, it is one of the most important components within the Ballantine’s blended whisky brand and was at varying stages during its history a vital component in first Black & White and then Teacher’s.
In terms of equipment, the distillery sports a 12-tonne stainless steel full lauter mash tun, 6 wooden washbacks made of Oregon pine and 3 pairs of stills. Production was increased to a 7-day week a few years ago and the distillery currently produces 4 million litres of pure alcohol per year with a full production capacity of 4.2 million litres on an annual basis.
As previously mentioned, Glentauchers is one of the four signature malts which shape the character of the Ballantine’s blended whisky range (alongside Glenburgie, Scapa and Miltonduff) and there was a special edition of Ballantine’s 17 Years Old known as the Signature Distillery Editions which were created to highlight the importance of these distilleries in the blend.
This week’s review focuses on an expression of Glentauchers which was distilled in 2008, matured in an ex-sherry butt for 8 years before being bottled by Swedish independent bottlers Svenska Eld Vatten at a natural cask strength of 57.4% abv and with an outturn of only 150 bottles.
So, let’s jump right into the review!
Glentauchers 2008 8 Years Old (Bottled by Svenska Eld Vatten, 57.4% abv)
Colour: Blood red
Nose: Perfumed and richly sherried on initial entry, with sherried raisins and raspberry jam featuring prominently. Christmas cake, nutmeg, pencil shavings and oak emerge after some time and intermingle with white pepper and some slightly feinty notes. (21/25)
Palate: Sweet and densely sherried on initial entry, with more of the raisins, Christmas cake, pencil shavings and jam notes featuring alongside some red wine hints, demerara sugar and slight earthiness. Coats the palate well and there is a good amount of viscosity to this dram. Cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper make an appearance late on alongside some brley sugar. (23/25)
Finish: Long and lingering on the finish, with the dense sherry hints, demerara sugar and wood spices carrying all the way through to the end alongside some oakiness. (20/25)
Balance: An exceptionally well-balanced dram for one to young and it exhibited both the sweet and spicy notes in equal measure. The palate was oily for the most part, although there was a slight dryness which crept in towards the end due to the influence of the oak and wood spices. (22/25)
I tried this beauty at The Elysian Whisky Bar in Fitzroy, Melbourne and it is the newest whisky-centric establishment in the Melbourne CBD area which is run by two of the most well-known alumni from Whisky Alement, Kelvin Low & Yao Wong.
This was one of EIGHT drams that I sampled during my two visits to the bar in late 2016 and early 2017 and all the whiskies which were savoured during these visits will be the subject of reviews in the near future.
I would highly recommend that readers of this blog make a visit to The Elysian Whisky Bar if they are in Melbourne and they have an impressive array of independent bottlings from well-known and fairly obscure bottlers which will surely intrigue and delight novices and connoisseurs alike.
I would also like to give a shout out to both Kelvin and Yao Wong for the amazing hospitality during my visit and could recommend the establishment any higher. Please go check them out and I’m sure that you will have as good or even better and experience than I did.
Until the next review, have a great week.
More reviews: https://www.thesinglecask.sg/blogs/news