Review: Glenglassaugh Sandend, Portsay, and 12 Years Old

Review: Glenglassaugh Sandend, Portsay, and 12 Years Old

Glenglassaugh’s core range: We hardly knew ye! The old Revival, Evolution, and Torfa are out. In their place, three new core whiskies, including the first full-time Glenglassaugh with an age statement: Sandend, Portsoy, and 12 Years Old.

Shaped by the influences of land and sea, the reimagined portfolio and design encapsulate the ethos of the lush, vibrant coastal spirit. The overall artistic direction of the brand has evolved, taking inspiration from the rippling sand tides at Sandend Bay, with touches of color inspired by sea glass. As with all Glenglassaugh single malts, the new whisky has been gently matured in the distillery’s coastal warehouses overlooking the rolling surf of Sandend Bay.

Ready to taste through them? We did a run-through on Zoom with brand ambassador Rory Glasgow, who treated us to a variety of food pairings including chocolate, pineapple, coconut, dried seaweed, and more. Going into the nuances of pairing these whiskies with treats is an exercise left for the reader. Meanwhile, here are some tasting notes.

Glenglassaugh Sandend – Named after the beach upon which Glenglassaugh is located, this NAS expression is aged in bourbon, oloroso sherry, and manzanilla sherry casks, the latter a rarity in the world of Scotch. The brightest whisky in this lineup, with a creamy apple brown betty nose, lots of vanilla, and mandarin orange notes. Slight salinity creeps into the palate, adding some elements of coastal breeze to an otherwise crisp and sweet, cookie-like expression. Gently fruity but heavy with vanilla on the lasting finish. Gentle as could be, and tough to believe it’s 101 proof. A- / $70

Glenglassaugh Portsoy – The only peated whisky in this lineup; matured in a mix of sherry, bourbon, and Port casks. Named for a small town near the distillery, no age statement. The peat starts off light then builds in glass, counterbalancing a tropical fruit character and some mild florals. The palate offers a similar texture, with notes of charred vegetables and grilled fruits, filtered through the smoke of a beach bonfire. Weighty and a bit doughy on the back end, with a mushroom element that clings to the roof of the mouth. I never once got the Port character here, which made me sad. 98.2 proof. B+ / $75

Glenglassaugh 12 Years Old – Also triple matured in bourbon, sherry, and red wine casks (mostly Tempranillo). Surprisingly brooding and grain-focused on the nose, increasingly tarry and wood-heavy as it builds in the glass — increasingly mushroomy-umami. Brooding on the palate, with a big hazelnut character. Some of that winey, oxidized quality comes into focus as the finish approaches, giving the whisky a somewhat gummy quality and an aggressive seaweed character. Oddly, the age-statemented whisky is easily the least interesting of the bunch (and the cheapest). This definitely benefited the most from the food pairings. Any of them, really. 90 proof. B / $65

Glenglassaugh Revival




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

1 Comment

  1. BobbyBilly on December 9, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Sandend is currently $103 at Costco in the Seattle area, if you can find it. What happened? Was it the Whiskey of the Year award? Just happened to be in my local Costco store the day it arrived. Grabbed a bottle. Not expecting the supply to last very long.

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