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Scotch Whisky by John Lamond

Glenglassaugh distillery, which was rescued from an almost inevitable slide into architectural ruin by Stuart Nickerson and his team, has been back in production since 2008. The distillery was mothballed by Highland Distillers, its previous owners, in 1986, and the distilling equipment was maintained in good working order (apart from a few pieces of equipment and fittings which were stolen), although the same could not be said of the buildings. Graham Eunson, who took over as Distillery Manager when the distillery changed hands, says, "With the roof leaking like a sieve, the damp in the walls was our biggest problem. There were stalactites and stalagmites underneath the flat concrete roofed areas. Even now, two years later, the damp is still coming out of the walls."

With these long years out of production, there is a great hole in their whisky stocks, the youngest whisky they are currently able to offer being 26 years old. Innovatively, they have turned this shortcoming to their advantage, developing a range of spirits aimed at the cocktail market.

Their Clearac (the Gaelic word for "new make": the unaged spirit straight off the still) is clean and scented, medium-sweet with a little spice and creamy with notes of apple blossom, while Fledgling XB has spent 12 months in a Bourbon barrel and has characters of new sawn wood, nettles, toffee, coffee, creamy mint and butterscotch. Blushes has been matured in a California red wine cask for six months and has notes of strawberries, boiled sweets, perfume and baby powder! While their Peated is a peated version of Clearac and has a little cooked apple note with some sweet peat smoke.

At the Edinburgh cocktail bar Bramble, the company showed off these spirits, which are not yet whiskies, by having them stirred and shaken by the bar's mixologists. My favourite was the "Peated Julep" with Peated, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, mint, sugar and rhubarb bitters. Wonderfully refreshing on a hot summer's day in Auld Reekie.

The full text of this article is available in the Winter 2010 issue of Scottish Life.

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