Glenglassaugh from way back, always a treat. I wanted to try the Massandra Collection (more information here and there – and there are even some videos about it on YouTube made by the distillery) for a long time, but opportunity never presented itself (health and time issues) and I somehow didn’t dare to approach these five drams without enough confidence in my tasting abilities. Sorry for being late on those, guys, I promise to be better.
Now, everything is back on track, so let’s tackle the fine Portsoy whisky finished in Crimean sweet wine casks in a head to head. They spent most of their time in refill casks before, then about 18 months of finishing was conducted.
Glenglassaugh 45 y.o. Massandra Collection 1967 Red Port Style Finish, 50,2%
This oldest version reveals the same style like the other 1960ies distillates, which is more than a good thing. It is by far the deepest, most balanced and noble expression of the pack with a medium influence of the cask (18 months) on rather dark wood. At the core of this complexity I am getting dark fruits (cherry, plum, cake soaked with Port, rum raisins), dried fruit, cotton candy sweetness and Asian spices (incl. sandalwood) paired with white and black pepper – all in this subtle and deep manner, really amazing and flawless. 92+ points.
Glenglassaugh 39 y.o. Massandra Collection 1972 Sherry Style Finish, 53,3%
The cask influence on this whisky is rather discrete. However this fruity and slightly dry Glassa is a banana bomb. Really, I have never tasted a whisky more Chiquita than this one (not even old Tomintoul), it reminds me of the Arcane rum somehow or even resembles a banana milk shake in taste. And these notes grow bigger with time. Before embarking on the banana boat there was lemon zest, apple and pear (in a dextrose-like crystalline way), ginger, white pepper, lavender and jasmine. What a fun dram, yet not my favourite 1972 Glenglassaugh. 90 points.
Glenglassaugh 39 y.o. Massandra Collection 1973 Aleatico Finish, 50,7%
This is the most expressive and unusual one in the bunch, rather spicy (chili, black pepper)with dry tannins. It comes across winey, also a bit like a Spanish Brandy. Does this come from the sweet wine made from formerly Italian grapes? There are aromas of coffee, canned milk, beef jerky, nougat crème, dark fruits (raisins, cherries, dried apricots), toffee and woody notes (resin, tannin). The Aleatico is hard to judge because it is so full of life yet not as round as other old Glassas. The spices prevent the subtle dextrose-like fruitiness to unfold. Some might love it, some will find it okayish and interesting. Let’s settle at 89+ points, some might go higher here.
Glenglassaugh 39 y.o. Massandra Collection 1973 Muscat Finish, 44,1%
I expected the least of this one because I am not a fan of the wine not this way of finishing. And at my first whiff I felt reassured: there were rosewater, petals, litschi, all quite unusual for this distillery. But there was more and I saw that I judged too quickly: the flowery notes from the wine finish went away after a minute and gave room for the most stunning ‘1960ies-Bowmore-esque’ profile I had in quite a while: cassis fruitiness, berries, wine gum, herbs of the Provence, forest walk (leafs, pine needles, etc.), lemon skin, pears, candy floss, canned milk, rising dough, caramel and vanilla, all discrete and in perfect balance. What an elegant surprise! 92 points.
Glenglassaugh 33 y.o. Massandra Collection 1978 Madeira Style Finish, 44,8%
The last one also doesn’t disappoint but has a greener and more malty profile with less fruit than its predecessors. Its aromas are based on dry and peppery elements, nettles, chili, ginger, smoke from burning pine needles and raisins. 89 points.
Summary: In a nutshell, this collection is great for Glenglassaugh connoisseurs who want to experience different vintages and the wood influence on their dram. None of these whiskies is a let-down, but I clearly favour the noble 1967 Port version followed by the quaffable 1973 Muscat finish with its fruity tail. The Aleatico is for cowboys who like their dram wild and spicy, rum lovers will enjoy the 1972 Sherry most and the Speyside purists go for the Madeira from 1978. However, if you are new to vintage Glenglassaugh prior to the 1980ies, I recommend going for the recent 1972 releases (like the one from winter 2012/13 released for Germany which scored 93 points in my books) because they are more typical. Thanks to Andrea Caminneci for providing me with these nectars.