The sea speaks of salt tang and stories, of siren calls and shanties about sea-faring lovers lost to the briny depths. The Psalms talk about revelation, where ”the secret sources of ocean are exposed”. And over 20 years, hidden along Scotland’s northeast coastline, a Glenglassaugh warehouse accommodated numerous rare casks.

Laid down back in the 1970s, these casks were left nigh forgotten and left to mature through the years with the coastal environment shaping their contents. They were uncovered in 2008 and the rest of the maturation was overseen by Glenglassaugh’s master blender, Dr Rachel Barrie.

Dr Rachel Barrie.

“It is extremely rare to find casks that have been left to mature in coastal locations for such a long period of time,” Dr Barrie says, “and our warehouses, perched on cliffs overlooking Sandend Bay, have acted as the custodians of this old and rare liquid for over five decades.

“These casks give a unique insight into the nature of whisky making at the distillery before it was closed and capture a moment in time like few other expressions can.”

Glenglassaugh’s 49 Year Old Bourbon Barrel and 48 YO Aleatico Red Wine Barrique.
Glenglassaugh’s 51 Year Old Oloroso Puncheon.

The Serpentine Coastal Cask Collection

Termed as the Serpentine Coastal Cask Collection, the range takes its name from the serpentine marble found in the surrounding cliffs of the distillery. For this collection, only three expressions were bottled. They are the 48 YO Aleatico Red Wine Barrique (distilled in 1974); the 49 YO Bourbon Barrel (distilled in 1973) and the 51 YO Oloroso Puncheon (distilled in 1972).

This liquid gold is contained in glass bottles inspired by the sand of Sandend Bay and sealed with a serpentine marble closure. The 48 YO has a pleasing blueberry and peach scent and tastes of blackberry, lychee and raspberry and a hint of sea salt. Whiffs of exotic fruit, like guava, emanate from the 49 YO, with dried fruit enveloping the palate. Finally, the 51 YO has blood orange preserve, spiced vetiver on the nose and tastes of salted treacle infused with a tempting orange and balsamic raisin.

Dr Rachel Barrie signing a Glenglassaugh Sandend bottle.

Limited to a few hundred bottles worldwide, their scarcity is another reason to indulge in this serendipitous find of the year. Prices are available on request.