People learnt a long time ago that drinking an alcoholic beverage was making them feel relaxed, good (unless they’re drinking too much!) and increased their mood. It’s no surprise then that when there’s a call for celebration, people use alcohol to celebrate. I know I do. And I’m not the only one, as alcohol has been used for celebrations and ceremonies for ages, as far back at least than ancient Babylon, around 5000 B.C. Clay tablets found in the ruins of ancient Babylon told about its inhabitants used to brew and drink beer as part of their religious ceremonies. Egyptians did too, and they’d make it by placing crumbled barley bread into jars filled of water, to allow the natural yeast to start fermentation. Fast forward a few thousand years, and we’re using all kinds of alcohols for celebrations. And when I learnt I had passed my Wine and Spirits Trust Education level 2 in spirits with distinction, the result I was looking for, I naturally turned to whisky to celebrate what I had really worked hard to achieve. Yes, tasting and learning about spirits and cocktails can be hard work. And to celebrate, I turned myself towards a whisky from a lost distillery I had never tried anything from before: a Glenury Royal 1978 bottled by Signatory Vintage.
Glenury Royal Distillery
In 1835, Captain Robert Barclay Allardice of Ury, then the Laird of the Ury estate in the Highlands, founded there the Glenury distillery, where a few years before an illicit distillery ran and burnt. A fire burnt the kiln, the malting area as well as their store of barley and malted barley. Weeks later, another terrible accident happened as a distillery worker, James Clark, died when he fell in the boiler. But the official distillery was founded in 1835. As with Royal Brackla, Barclay being a personal friend of King William IV, he could add the Royal suffix to the name of the distillery.
Barclay died in 1854 and the distillery was sold on auction in 1858 to William Ritchie, and he and his descendants ran the distillery until 1938. Then, it was bought for Train & Macintyre by Joseph Hobbs and integrated into Associated Scottish Distilleries, like Glen Esk as I briefly mentioned recently. ASD was sold to American National Distilleries two years later. The distillery closed during World War II, and in 1953 Associated Scottish Distilleries was sold to DCL, which would later become Diego.
In 1965 important work was done on the distillery, with two stills added to the two existing ones. Malting at the distillery itself stopped in 1968, and the distillery was shut on the 31st of may, 1985. Later in 1992, Diego decided no whisky would ever be made there again, and the buildings were sold to a promoter , who transformed part of the buildings into apartments.
Whisky from Glenury Royal is quite rare and mostly found thanks to independent bottlers. Some of the very few official bottlings were from Diageo’s Rare Malts series we talked about recently as well as a few Special Releases, and the latest release was a 50-year-old distilled in 1968 in its Casks of Distinction series.
Glenury Royal 1978 Signatory Vintage Review
This Glenury Royal was distilled 44 years ago, on the 22nd of November 1978. It was then filled into cask #9769, where it matured for 14 years, before being bottled in May 1993. The whisky was reduced to 43% ABV before being filled into 2,400 miniatures. I don’t know of full-size bottles being filled from this cask. The whisky was probably chill-filtered, but looks like natural colour, seeing how pale it is. I forgot to take a picture of my own miniature before opening it so the photo below is of it being empty, but you can see the colour on this Glenury on Whiskybase. It’s long gone as far as I know, and I was lucky enough to find one last miniature at the Dutch shop Slijterij Vonk, and I paid about 25€ for it (and about as much for shipping…)
Old gold. Large beads form quickly, then change to fast descending thin legs.
Very fruity from the start, the first nose is full of yellow apple, pear, juicy muskmelon (nothing to do with the one ruining Twitter), plum and mirabelle. Some malty and grassy notes join in with hay, malt and wet cut grass. A bit of pine resin as well.
Unfortunately, the arrival is a bit thin, but still quite full of flavours. Pear takes the lead over apple, diluted orange juice, apricot, plum and pineapple. Once again loads of fruits. Barley water, a spoon of honey, and a light wood bitterness in the background. After some time, some cocoa powder and half an espresso.
This chocolate-y bitterness lingers on, but you still have some fruits in the back of the finish. Good length.
Once again a shame that Signatory was bottling lots of whiskies at this low 43%. Sure, they also had a dumpy bottles cask strength range, but this Glenury Royal is from the regular shaped 43 percent ABV range. I had hope on the nose, at this was very fruity and grassy. The palate was tasty but the mouthfeel unfortunately quite thin between the ABV and the chill filtration. It would have scored at least 2 additional points with a higher ABV. But. That’s beside the point of what I opened it and drunk it. The point was to try something from a distillery I had never tried anything before, a lost one on top of that, to celebrate my WSET diploma. And despite its imperfections, I’m very happy to have celebrated my diploma with this whisky. And it’s not like I had a perfect score either. And now that I write my conclusion I’m realising this whisky has the exact same score as me at the WSET exam (yes, got it with distinction by the split of a hair. And you probably know mine are very short, to say the least!), and it was not intentional. So yeah, perfect match to celebrate.