Glentauchers is a distillery that is rather obscure in the sense that one wouldn't see many official bottlings from them, primarily due to its priority being to supply Chivas Brothers (and by extension, Pernod Ricard) with a steady supply of bulk whisky for the company's various blends.
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.
The focus of this week's review is the Glentauchers 1996 18 Years Old expression which has been bottled by independent bottler Carn Mor for their Strictly Limited range at a standard abv of 46%.
Glentauchers 1996 18 Years Old (46% abv)
Nose: Initial entry presents a pronounced citrusy note coupled with a dollop of vanilla and oak that one would associate with a first-fill bourbon cask. With time, black pepper, chewy malt and a certain sweetness come to the fore and intermingle well with the lemon citrus note.
Palate: Very unlike a typical bourbon-cask matured whisky in the sense that the lemon citrus notes are the dominant aspect on the palate. The sweetness take on a honeyed character and the black pepper, oak and chewy malt from the nose also make an appearance on the palate. Rich and coats the palate well.
Finish: Medium on the finish, with more of the lemon citrus and honeyed sweetness combining beautifully followed by an oaky dryness and some barley sugar.
Balance: A very well-balanced and dangerously drinkable dram which provides patrons with a wonderful representation of what a bourbon-matured whisky is capable of while also providing a rather unusual pronounced citrus note which adds another dimension to the flavour profile. Definitely one to savour!
The Glentauchers 1996 18 Years Old is available for purchase by the dram or by the bottle for in-bar consumption and also by the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes. Please approach our friendly bar staff for more information.
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