Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Glenglassaugh 1973 ‘Seek the Ultimate’ for Campbelltoun Loch & Shinanoya

Post by Stefan Van Eycken, Tokyo
It’s been a year since they selected it, and a few months shy of 40 years in wood before that, but when the guys at Shinanoya label a new release “Seek the Ultimate”, we can be pretty sure it’s been worth the wait. In a few days’ time, Shinanoya, together with bar Campbelltoun Loch, will release a 1973 single cask Glenglassaugh, matured for 39 years in hogshead #874 and bottled at a cask-strength of 46.3%abv. Let’s see if we can catch a glimpse of the ultimate…

On the nose, the initial impressions are brambles, cherry sauce and golden kiwifruit. Then, after a while, a strong mango note comes through – think thick mango juice – accompanied by pear drops, Weinbergpfirsich liqueur, pineapple lumps and a hint of Nutella. There’s also a bit of sour ume candy and toasted coconut in there but the mango keeps coming back in various guises, like a varied refrain: mango juice, frozen mangoes with lemon, mango sauce, dried apple-mango, mango sorbet and so on. In the background, there are light grassy notes and a hint of woodchips. It’s hard to capture in words just how phenomenal the nose is because the great thing about all those notes is that they work together in perfect harmony. The palate, neat, elaborates on the theme of the tropical fruit mélange – pineapple, coconut milk, mango again, guava – with sour (gooseberries, lime) and bitter (grapefruit peel, aromatic bitters) accents. Again, everything’s perfectly integrated, round, smooth, no rough edges… and with an incredibly creamy mouthfeel. The finish is long on chocolate-and-passionfruit bavarois and hitotsubu-no-muscat (ひとつぶのマスカット, a sort of candied grape). Water transforms the nose – brings out gummy bears, apricots, Lady Grey tea and a bit of hay – but flattens the palate and sabotages the finish. Don’t mess with this extraordinary whisky. It’s perfect just the way it is.

We’re not fans of empty hyperbole but in this case “Seek the Ultimate” pretty much nails it. Sublime whisky? No doubt about it. Expensive? Sure (47,900yen for 500ml). Worth it? Every yen. This is one of those whiskies that etches itself in your memory once you’ve tried it and reconfigures your internal whisky map. Things will never be the same again...

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