Whisky for Grappa Drinkers

I'm sitting here enjoying three "whiskies" (lawyer-types: I know, I know, "new make spirit") from the recently re-opened Glenglassaugh distillery, which between them can't even scrape up a single year of ageing. As a grappa fan, I couldn't be happier. They all have that solventy, estery fruity nose found in fresh distillates - lovely.

The Clearac is a straightforwardly fresh, plain spirit . It definitely smells of barley, but I also found marmite and toffee pennies. It's a bit rougher than the other two. The palate is oily, sweet, a little malty, peppery, and mineralic (the sea, ozone, ammonia). The metallic finish lets it down, but still, I'd rate it Good.

Blushes  is the old lady of the bunch, with a whole six months in ex- red wine casks, which we are told come from California (as if you could tell otherwise from tasting). It is a beautiful pink gold colour, what Aunty would call rose gold, and smells very youthful still, with the same salty and ammonaical  notes found in the palate of the Clairac. On top of that there's a pippy, stalky, vinous element - tannin, I should think. Left in the glass for a while it evolves some very attractive red fruit notes, plus the classic grappa nose of honeycomb nougat. It  tastes interestingly earthy or musty, and I found a floral note too. Complex and interesting.

And so to the Peated clearac. I don't know what the Parts Per Million of Peat is for this, but they haven't stinted. And it's a fantastic interesting smokiness - dry, charred wood. If you could have smoked grappa - which would be a good thing  - you would want it to smell like this. It tastes sweet, oily, and very smoky, with more of that charred wood in the finish. Very good.

Newly opened malt whisky distilleries are always confronted with a huge cash flow problem, and have come up with various wangles to get round this. Glenglassaugh's approach is very interesting, and in the case of the 'Blushes', a definite winner. There is plenty of flavour and complexity in it, even for folk who don't usually enjoy young spirits.

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