Glaschu Spirits Co. is a young independent bottler from Glasgow, but you might have guessed that already. They bottled a handful of malt whiskies so far, including the Glengoyne 2011 11 Years and Tullibardine 2015 7 Years I’m reviewing today.
I suppose it’s fair to say Glaschu Spirits is sort of a subsidiary of Dam Good Drams, the retailer run by friends Paul and Julian, who met in college and attended university together. Their independent bottling operation originated from their online shop, which specialises in independent whisky. “Not just independent bottlings but also independent distilleries like GlenAllachie and Lochlea.”
When their passion for whisky evolved, Paul and Julian had trouble finding a one-stop-shop for independent whisky. Most of us would’ve sighed, maybe thrown in a shrug, and then we would’ve went on with our day. But these friends started their own whisky company.
They reached out to brands they were drinking at the time, such as Uncharted Whisky Co, The Single Cask, Firkin, Na Braithrean and Single Note. Would they maybe like to list with Dam Good Drams? “It became our very own curated selection of independent whisky. Essentially, we only sell stuff that the two of us can really get behind.”
Working with independent bottlers inevitably exposed them to the cask market. Eventually they came across a few that they wanted to keep and bottle – Glaschu Spirits was born. Thomas and Julian as aircraft engineers by trade, which reflects in their label design. “We both love engines and everything mechanical and we’re both recreational pilots. That’s where a lot of the ideas for our label designs came from.”
Paul and Julian are not afraid to experiment with wood. Almost each of Glaschu Spirits’ releases matured (partially) in what many would designate an ‘exotic’ cask type. The most mainstream release is probably the Glengoyne 2011 11 Years, which was finished in two first-fill Pedro Ximénez quarter casks. Their Tullibardine 2015 7 Years is less conventional and matured fully in a first-fill Saint-Emilion Barrique – a red wine from the Bordeaux region in France.
Tullibardine 2015 7 Years (50%, Glaschu Spirits Co., 2022)
Nose: The red wine influence is undeniable. Yes, there might be a sliver of sulphur, but nothing to worry about too much. Also, hints of cocoa butter, some lychees, pomelo and tart raspberries. Somewhat acidic. Maybe slightly too much. Taste: Initially it’s the wine cask that’s very commanding. Not cloying, thankfully. The mouthfeel is rather creamy, but also almost fizzy at times. It arrives on a flurry of very sweet red fruits, a pinch of white pepper, some hazelnuts, and then caramel-glazed apple. Finish: Medium length. Somewhat tannic (and therefor bitter), but mostly candied fruits, cake icing, and a tinge of menthol.
A bit of a tough one. The full maturation in a red wine cask could’ve been disastrous, but it hasn’t been. Then again, I still can’t quite get used to this style of single malt. It never feels as integrated as I’d like.
I try to always score objectively as much as possible, but personal preference will shine through occasionally. That’s certainly the case here.
Glengoyne 2011 11 Years (50%, Glaschu Spirits Co., 2023)
Nose: Hints of copper along with breakfast cereals, porridge and barley husks. The Pedro Ximènez influence is kept in check. There’s a touch of cocoa butter, chocolate, stewed apples and blackcurrants, along with butterscotch. Taste: Rich mouthfeel and a somewhat spicy arrival. Damp oak, touches of black pepper and fudge. Also honey, resin, eucalyptus and peanut skins. Finish: Medium length with oak shavings, mild chocolate notes and oak-y honey – if that makes sense.
Are we sure these were filled into first-fill Pedro Ximènez quarter casks? The sherry influence is there, but it's not what I'd expect from a finish of 8 months in smaller casks. The oak might be louder than the sherry. Anyway, this is a nice drinker. Not too far away from the official Glengoyne 15 Years, yet a little less balanced.