Taste Review #28 – Glenugie 1980 ‘Deoch an Doras‘
During my three days of complete whisky geekery, I decided to spend a bit of time trying to drink drams I already had in storage that I didn’t want to open, or rarer drams that I hadn’t bought and wanted to try. I had planned to visit the Tannochbrae guest house in Dufftown, but they weren’t open, so I ended up in the Seven Stills. I hadn’t been there before, and didn’t realise it wasn’t a pub as such, but more a bistro. However, they have a cracking whisky selection, and I had three drams there that I had always wanted to try, and all three were unicorns.
Glenugie was a distillery that sat just to the south of Peterhead, in the North East of Scotland, and was the most easterly of the distilleries. It was owned by Seager Evans, who used the whisky in their blends. The distillery sat in the shadow of HMP Peterhead, a darkly imposing gaol where some of Scotland’s most violent criminals were sent. Indeed, the prison was the scene of violent rioting, at least one riot saw a prison warded held hostage on the roof, requiring the attendance of the SAS.
Seager Evans had been sold to Whitbread, and the division renamed Long John International. But disaster for the industry was around the corner. During the 80’s saw the start of the whisky loch due to over production and the industry was haemorrhaging cash. There was a massive cull of distilleries between 1983 to 1985, and sadly Glenugie was the first one to close. Long John International passed over to Allied Distillers, which later became a part of Pernod Ricard.
It is Pernod Ricard that now bottles Glenugie, and given when the distillery closed, bottlings are going to become ever older and expensive. This one is in the Deoch an Dorcas range, which is supposed to mean a drink at the door in Scots Gaelic. The site of the distillery is now demolished and is now used by Score Energy.
Nothing remains of the distillery, apart from the remains of an old windmill, (see photo below) which is listed, and was probably never used in the whisky production. The highlighted warehouses were demolished in 2018 to make room for more specialist storage.
This was the second official bottling of Glenugie, and I gather this was only a run of 500 bottles, so will be quite rare.
Rich, dried fruits raisins, chocolate,toffee, wood.
Sweet, sherry notes, plum, prunes, raisins, slightly tannic. Oak notes open up nicely with the addition of two teaspoons of water.
Long, chocolatey. Metallic taste at the end. Drying
In short, very nice. This is truly whisky whisky history as you know that every drop drunk can never be replaced. Despite being at cask strength, I never added any water to start with, as I wanted to experience the full unadulterated flavour. The sweet and wood was there, and despite me not knowing what cask was used, I’d suggest a sherry cask, possibly of European Oak, but will never know.
Various bottlings of Glenugie are available, but most command big prices at auction. The best bet is to visit a Pernod Ricard distillery and see what is on the shelves. There isn’t any more being distilled, and this is certainly a distillery that I would recommend a dram of being tried, if only at a whisky bar.
This was affordable for the geeks amongst us at £29 a nip. Bottles can go for over £700 at auction.
Deoch an Doras, as previously mentioned means a drink at the the door, but is more commonly referred to as one for the road. Please, if you experience this dram, don’t rush it, and take your time. It will be worth it.
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Dram, authors own.