I recently received three samples from a friend who had visited Glen Garioch (for non-Doric speakers and those unfamiliar with the distillery, it’s pronounced ‘Glen Geery’) to purchase a few distillery exclusives and, as he’s aff the bevvy for the time being, was generous to send them my way with an accompanying mini tasting glass. So, not only was I fortunate to have a pal like Ken Lee, I was also fortunate to try these intriguing drams from a distillery I’m not very familiar with, even though I grew up in the area.
Founded in 1797, Glen Garioch is the most easterly distillery in Scotland (after the closing of Glenugie in 1983) and one of the oldest. Based in the town of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, and built from the granite that Aberdeen is famous for, the area around the distillery and town is swathed in fertile land, perfect for farming, and is said to produce the finest barley in Scotland. It has earned the name, ‘the Granary of Aberdeenshire’, and draws it’s water supply from several small burns which originate high in the surrounding hills
Owned by Morrison Bowmore Distillers (who in turn are owned by Beam Suntory), the distillery changed hands time and again throught the 19th and 20th centuries before finding stability in 1997 when it was bought over by the current owners. It’s now got a very dedicated fanbase and has made successful inroads in to the Asian Market, but are the samples I got any good?
So, what have we got?
The first was a 30ml sample of Glen Garioch’s first release from their American Trilogy collection, a 2012 Kentucky Oak Cask 1359. Having spent over 7 years in a first fill Kentucky Oak barrel, this was a new cask type for me to encounter. I was keen to get stuck in and it did not disappoint.
Rested in the Glencairn for a wee while, it’s a burnished copper in appearance, ABV of 61.8%, and I can already pick up sweet honey scents from the glass.
Nose: That sweet honey (or agave syrup) mentioned above. Fruits like gooseberries and elderberry are there, but there’s also vanilla from the oak influence 7/10
Palate: The oak influence isn’t as noticeable now which I really like – that vanilla scent makes way for a more accomplished fruity taste: gooseberry pie with the buttery pastry and strawberry jam. 7.5/10
Finish: . Sweet, lingering and warm. Quite long. The high ABV and relatively young age of the whisky don’t seem to have any downsides to this dram. 7.5/10
Total: An accomplished 22/30
Next up is a 2nd offering from the American Trilogy collection: 2012 Missouri Oak Cask 1363, which has also spent just over 7 years in its respective barrel. Bottled at a slightly lesser 61.6% but also possessing that burnished copper appearance. This was also a first cask type for me to embrace and I followed the same tried and tested steps as before: whack it in a Glencairn and leave it there for a wee while.
Nose: There’s a spicy note to this straight away; hints of cinnamon and Jamaica cake – it isn’t invasive or in your face, but it’s my immediate impression on first nosing. There’s certainly a sweetness too that is similar to demerara sugar, but it’s all a bit flat. 5/10
Palate: I’m really not sure about this dram! There’s a spiciness to it that seems to take over the whisky and push other notes to the back of the queue. It’s almost bullying the rest of the whisky. I get vanilla in places and a flowery hint, but it is lacking the fruit of Sample 1 and the marriage as well. It’s all rather acrimonious. 5/10
Finish: A long finish with a persistent spicy burn – it’s a bit like when you taste just a bit too much white pepper. I’m surprised because the first sample was so well done and, possibly naively, I expected the same her but it just isn’t there. On the final finish I do get burnt demerara sugar, like the top of a crème brulee, but it’s fleeting. 5/10
Total: 15/30. Bit of a letdown.
My final dram is a Glen Garioch 1984 Sherry Matured Single Cask # 8802 (35 Year Old). I decided to go all out here and give this whisky the respectful photograph it deserves, so I poured it in to the mini-tasting glass, then I stuck it in a plant pot.
With an easy-going ABV of 46.7% and a browned sherry hue, I was very much looking forward to this.
Nose: Leathery whiffs and oak notes. Hints of chocolate, rolling tobacco, and there’s obviously that punchy sherry coming through. 8/10
Palate: Raisins and sweet sherry. It’s quite earthy too, rich, similar to Mississippi Mud Pie. There’s a buttery feel to the whisky that coats my mouth. 9/10
Finish: Medium finish. It doesn’t hang around too long and on dissipating there is a slight sourness like buttermilk, but it’s quite enjoyable. No burn, wee notes of sweetness from the cask finish it all off. 8/10
Total: 25/30. A top whisky. Glen Garioch can be proud of this and I will remain jealous that my pal Ken Lee has a full bottle. Very happy I got to try!
Note: I enjoyed these samples a couple of months ago,
but because I am a lazy **** but due to the being overworked and dedicated to my day-to-day job, I am only now getting round to writing them up.
Stay Safe x