Glenglassaugh 12 Years / Sandend / Portsoy

Glenglassaugh 12 Years / Sandend / Portsoy

In June 2023 Glenglassaugh distillery presented a new core range. It was the first major intervention since the distillery was taken over by Brown-Forman in 2016. It seems BenRiach got their attention first and Glenglassaugh had to wait until 2023 to get a makeover.

The flagship bottling is now the Glenglassaugh 12 Year Old, combined with Sandend, an unpeated NAS expression, and Portsoy, a lightly peated single malt. All three expressions rely on a mix of bourbon and sherry casks. The 12 year-old adds red wine casks to the recipe, whereas Sandend adds a number of ex-Manzanilla casks. For Portsoy they also used Port wine casks.


Glenglassaugh 12 yo (45%, OB 2023)

Nose: a bit of everything. There’s a yeasty note and chalk, some fresh citrus and roasted nuts, but a hint of raspberry from the red wine casks is taking the lead after a while. Then some rubbery notes and dried mushrooms, as well as berries, hints of clove, melons and some grassy touches. Light caramel and fresh oak. Hard to pin down, and lacking brightness.

Mouth: sweet fruity notes (apricots, figs, strawberry wine gums) mingle with a lot of hazelnuts, alongside cocoa dusting and more of that mulled wine feeling (including a slight astringency). Then faint hints of coffee, as well as burnt toast, tobacco and cinnamon. Salted caramel too.

Finish: medium length, with a slight prickle, some earthy pepper, chocolate and nuts.

In my opinion complexity is not just mixing as many elements as possible, although that’s the feeling I’m getting here. Red wine fights for attention, while the sherry and the fruitiness of the spirit never stand out either. Overall this is lacking elegance. A mixed bag that is quite far from what I expect from Glenglassaugh – in that sense The Twelve from Benriach is much better. Available from The Whisky Exchange among others. I found samples of all three at



Glenglassaugh Sandend (50,5%, OB 2023)

Glenglassaugh Sandend Nose: more typical as it has more apples, lemon candy, bananas and bright fruity notes in general. Some vanilla, unripe pineapple and light maritime notes (sea sand and salty air). Mild nutmeg, as well as some floral notes.

Mouth: bright apples, pineapples, bananas and pears. Hints of grapes as well. Overall rather candied, in a youngish way but certainly not unpleasant. Some vanilla, white pepper, almonds and floral (in fact slightly perfumed) honey. Some salt and slightly drying hints of chalk – that could be the Manzanilla.

Finish: not too long, but clean, with light oak, apples and vanilla biscuits.

This one seems to have much more bourbon oak in the mix. Manzanilla tends to be quite a suble influence anyway, leaving more room for the spirit underneath. I like this, it’s not a must-have in any way but still a nice entry-level whisky with a good dose of distillery character. No complaints. I saw this at Master of Malt and Royal Mile Whiskies for instance. Score: 83/100



Glenglassaugh Portsoy (49,1%, OB 2023)

Glenglassaugh Portsoy Nose: sweet peat and mentholated notes. Then hints of rubber boots, wet rocks and tarry rope (more maritime than expected), as well as barbecued meats, ashes and roasted bell peppers. Then plenty of vanilla notes creeping in. Hints of sweet plums and strawberry in the background, along with cookie dough, tobacco and caramelized malt.

Mouth: despite the ABV, this feels light. Cold ashes and charred herbs, pepper and mustard, with lemons and cinnamon. The Port influence is mild. Dry smoky notes, some tobacco again, as well as faint blackberries and apples, with vanilla in the background. Complexity is limited, but the balance is alright.

Finish: medium length, with campfire smoke, cinnamon, leather and black pepper.

As often with peated whisky, it seems to overcome its youth more graciously. While still not earth-shattering, this Portsoy is good. It remains a bit of an adverse selection though – overall I expected much more of this revamp. Available from The Whisky Exchange and TyndrumWhisky among others Score: 82/100