These are interesting times for Scotch whisky. Two poor barley crops and an unprecedented demand for grain have sent production costs soaring. At the same time, a seemingly inexhaustible demand for premium spirits from the emerging markets of China, India and Southeast Asia has put overall demand for malt whisky at its highest. The result is scarcity and worldwide shortages. It takes more than a decade to produce outstanding whisky, so what can be done now?
A new release from a distillery near Glasgow, a single malt named Glengoyne Burnfoot ($50), may provide part of the answer. There is no age statement on the bottle, so it almost certainly contains some young whisky, which means more of it can be made sooner.
Is it any good?The simple answer is yes, but only if you like clean, crisp, gingery malt with few intricacies or depth. Glengoyne specializes in completely peat-free malt made with the high-quality but low-yielding Golden Promise barley, and it has built its reputation on pure, intense flavors. Burnfoot achieves this, and there’s also an intriguing woodiness in the mix. But it’s something of a one-trick whisky, and you can’t help wondering how much better it would be if it had been left in the cask for another five years.
It’s whisky in a hurry, a smart and sassy malt aimed at least in part at those who happily defy convention in pursuit of expediency and style. For this reason Burnfoot has its place, and it might just be at the forefront of a small whisky revolution. Look for it at duty-free shops, which are the only places it’s being sold.