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Whisky Reviews

Glenturret Triple Wood 2022 Release Single Malt, 45% ABV

 

Floor malting was once a widespread practice in Scotch whisky production, with distilleries meticulously converting barley into malt on their own premises. This method, dating back centuries, involved spreading wet barley on a concrete floor, allowing it to germinate and then quickly drying it to halt the process.

Unfortunately, the warm and moist conditions in rural settings would often draw in mice from the surrounding hills, lued by the promise of an easy meal. This persistent problem led to the introduction of 'mousers', or distillery cats, as a practical solution to safeguard the precious malt.

It was in these circumstances that Glenturret Distillery became home to the greatest lap cat that ever lived – at least according to the Guinness World Records. Towser, the female tortoiseshell cat, lived at Glenturret Distillery from 1963 to the late 80s, where she racked up a remarkable 28,899 kills throughout her life, averaging over three per day according to observers from the Guinness World Records Committee.

 

 

Each night, Towser would prowl the premises of Glenturret, silent as the grave. Her routine was methodical, almost ritualistic; tirelessly hunting down each mouse. In the morning, several mangled mouse carcasses would be found in a neat row on the distillery floor, ready for the stillmen’s inspection.

 

 

For Towser, the distillery wasn’t just a workplace but her home where she was provided a warm place to sleep in the frigid Highlands along with plenty of food; and she guarded the distillery from mice with fierce dedication. It was said that Towser was even given milk mixed with several drops of whisky at night – something which the old distillery workers claimed made her the little killing machine that she was.

 

Floor malting at Laphroaig Distillery (Image Source: ScotchWhisky.com)

 

The end of Towser’s reign coincided with significant changes in the modern whisky industry, and by the 80s’, mousers were no longer essential at Scotch distilleries. Glenturet phased out the old floor malting technique, while technological advancements and modernised hygiene standards had rendered the role of such cats largely ceremonial. Funnily enough, Towser’s immediate successor, Amber, was deathly afraid of mice and would run away from every mouse that she saw.

Today, Glenturret continues to be a home to several distillery cats. Yet, they serve more as pets to the distillery staff and as tourist attractions for visitors. The legacy of Towser, however, is immortalised in a bronze statue made in her honour in the distillery grounds.

Now, Glenturret distillery claims to be Scotland’s oldest distillery – a title that is contested by Littlemill Distillery and Strathisla Distillery. Whisky enthusiasts may have heard of Glenturret, but by and large, this single malt has largely flew under the radar from the mass market. It isn’t so much because of quality, but availability of its malts. For a distillery that is over 200 years old, Glenturret is still amongst one of the smallest whisky distilleries in Scotland, with the production capacity of about 500,000 litres per year. For comparison, household brands like Glenfiddich and Macallan produce in the range of 21 million litres per year each, while other well-known brands tend to produce more than 1 million litres per year. It’s likely there simply wasn’t much whisky to go around for people to become familiar with Glenturret.

 

The pre-rebranding look of Glenturret's whiskies.

 

The distillery was handed from owner to owner over the years, and in more recent decades came under the control of spirits giants like Cointreau and Highland Distillers (the precursor to Edrington Group which owns Macallan and Highland Park). In 2019, Glenturret was acquired by the French luxury glassmaker Lalique along with one of Lalique’s major shareholders, which looked to open a new chapter for Glenturret Distillery. Shortly after acquisition, Glenturrent appointed Bob Dalgarno, a 30-year veteran whiskymaker from Macallan to be Glenturret’s master blender.

 

 

In 2020, Glenturret introduced a rebranded new bottle design with a striking angular shape and a modernised white label with the coat of arms of the distillery’s founding family. There’s no doubt this new aesthetic was inspired by the new owner Lalique which clearly values good glassware design.

The Glenturret Triple Wood which we will review is the most accessible bottle of Glenturret’s new rebranded range. This is a non-age statement whisky matured in three types of cask styles – American oak, ex-Sherry, and ex-Bourbon, said to give it notes of fruits, caramel, ginger and vanilla.

Let’s taste this for ourselves.

Glenturret Triple Wood 2022 Release, 45% ABV – Review

 

Nose: A harmonious blend of sherry-driven fruitiness and nuanced oak subtleties. Prominent scents of dried fruits; raisins, prunes, strawberry compote, figs, complemented by the herbaceous sweetness of Manuka honey and some orange oil. Opens up deeper layers that reveal tobacco leaves and a hint of mild burnt rubber. There's also a discernible mineral quality, slightly coastal in nature, alongside a clean, yeast-like note reminiscent of many daiginjo-grade sakes.

Palate: With the first sip, I’ve already decided this is pretty good whisky. The sherry influence is very evident yet it retains a freshness and brightness, giving us a very well-balanced profile sherried profile – quite a rarity! Medium-bodied and opens with indistinct red fruits, figs, raisins, and prunes. The profile gradually gear-shifts, introducing tasted malt, a Guinness stout-like character, coffee, and tobacco, with a gradually growing oakiness.

Finish: Still complex and flavourful with quite a bit to offer and a moderate length. It closes with notes of brown sugar and tobacco, gradually giving way to autumnal dried leaves and a hint of ginger spiciness. There's a subtle dry oak presence and a very slight sulphurous wine note.

 

My Thoughts:

The 2022 Release Glenturret Triple Wood is a surprisingly well-executed sherry-influenced whisky. It offers a rich sherried profile without being overwhelmed by the less desirable notes of modern sherry-seasoned casks.

The autumnal nuances, depth and richness are balanced and not overly dry. It's a complex and enjoyable dram, perfect for sipping on its own. I’m not one to follow competition results religiously, but the recognition it received as the World’s Best Scotch Single Malt at the 2023 IWSC competition seems very well-deserved.

My Rating: 7/10

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie