Behind the Label
Quick bit of history as the distillery Glenlossie is not very well known, but yet possesses some pretty well known compatriots which would be of interest to some. Glenlossie, the Speyside Scotch distillery, was started by a John Duff. John Duff was a manager of GlenDronach Distillery, before setting sail for the US and South Africa to find his fortune but only found failure. He then headed back to Scotland where he then set up Longmorn Distillery, as well as BenRiach Distillery – pretty famous siblings Glenlossie has. Consequently, with all his eggs in one basket, the big Pattison Crash no doubt devastated him.
Tucked away in the woods, Glenlossie and its sister distillery Mannochmore, both hardly well-known, have somewhat suffered from their own success, being the best kept secret of whisky blenders. (Image Source: Whiskyphiles)
The distillery changed several hands and eventually landed in the stable of Distiller’s Company Ltd (or DCL), which later became Diageo. Diageo at the time was busy churning out blends, which were highly popular at the time, and so Glenlossie was allocated under the Haig blend, which took up most of the whiskies it produced. In fact, because Glenlossie was so highly regarded, you could say that the Speysider suffered from its own success – it was considered by Diageo as one of twelve “top class” blending malts. That left less than 1% of the distillery’s whiskies available for single malt production, as such you could imagine the Haig name was much more widespread than its workhorse, Glenlossie.
Glenlossie went a long way from being the hail mary of ex-Distillery Manager John Duff to being the workhorse for the Haig blend, which now features David Beckham, certainly more marketable than however John looked like. (Image Source: Campaign)
Pretty interesting history for a distillery that is fairly unknown – in fact it was because I had knew of this, that I was drawn to trying this bottling of Glenlossie by Singaporean bar, The Swan Song, when it showed up. A rare chance! – I had thought to myself.
This all ensued after my own Instagram conversations with other enthusiasts, many of whom know that I am a fool for floral and fruity whiskies, that I had come to hear of a “Glenlossie” that was purportedly fruity, and at the same time spotted some sea-salt milk chocolate notes. Interesting, I had thought.
Would I find these sea-salt chocolates I was looking for? (Image Source: Garnish & Glaze)
Through these confluence of factors, I was sold. I made my way down with eagle eyes set on trying this mystic whisky.
Here’s what I got.
Color: Rich, Dark Mahogany.
Nose: Immediately the tart red fruits hit - red cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, alittle strawberries, there’s a farm freshness to it. Almost like you just picked them off the vine, along with the light dusting of soil and wooden crates you’d have them in.
There's a mix of tart freshness that you'd get from ripe cherries, alongside some earthiness, as if they were just harvested. (Image Source: Visit Lodi)
Alongside that earthiness, I get some tobacco leaf, espresso and coffee bits. Going deeper, there’s some fruitcake, blackforest – your typical sherried whisky notes.
For a young whisky, this isn’t too hot, contrary, I find it quite sharp in the distinctive notes that stands out, but overall fairly mellow on the nose.
A deep leafy scent of tobacco leaves underlies the tart cherries.
Palate: On the palate, the nose carries through but with greater intensity. The flavors here are big and bold – lots of plums, red grapes, some blueberries, but gone is that tartness on the nose. Lots of ripeness and juiciness here.
Then there’s a whole lot of woodiness. Heavy duty oakiness ensues, fresh oak I’d imagine? The cask is very active here. Thankfully it almost comes head to head with the fruitiness which stops it short of becoming overpowering, and instead keeps its big on the flavors.
Juicy fruit compote or a baked fruit pie would do you just the same. (Image Source: Food52)
Finish: The finish is fairly short, minty like spearmint. With the sherried notes remaining as the oak fades off. I’m left with some bits of coffee grinds and some leftover berries.
Wafts of espresso and coffee grinds lace the experience. (Image Source: Serious Eats)
This being my first time sipping on some Glenlossie, I don’t have much of a benchmark – which is both a boon and a bane, depending on how you see it. Let’s go with the fresh eyes narrative! Judging it on its own, it certainly is big on the fruitiness, albeit I am left wondering if perhaps a wider array of fruits are to be found on other Glenlossies, given that the sherry cask has had much suasion on this one.
I did not find too much in the way of the purported sea-salt chocolate, but I did land on espresso, if it is any closeness of a relative. Again, this may be due to just how active the sherry cask was.
This Glenlossie is heavy on the sherry, but would go great with a Thanksgiving dinner, certainly worth trying! (Image Source: Sacramento Magazine)
On the whole, it still managed to escape fairly balanced with big flavors that lands me on this being a great candidate for Thanksgiving. The tart red fruits and the oak would go well with some roast turkey, I’d imagine!
It was really an epic tussle between the fruits and the oak, it was head-to-head, with round 1 (nose) going to the fruits, round 2 (palate) to the oak, and the grand finale round 3 (finish) going to the fruits. A close fight!
Would make a great Thanksgiving pairing with some turkey. Christmas too!
I enjoyed it quite abit and was generous in taking more sips, but I would opine that the cask was just a tad too active here, though that said, it does harken back to a time when whiskies were more uncut and much less tame, which I heard was the inspiration for the bottle’s label (throwback to the old Sestante labels in the 80s). A solid sherried whisky that is definitely worth trying!