The recent official Glen Gariochs I have reviewed so far have not greatly enthused me. Let’s see what the story is with some older, recently released independents. First up, is a review of a 20 yo from 1990 from the new’ish Dutch bottler, Kintra Whisky. This will be followed soon by a review of a 21 yo from 1990 from another Dutch label, Archives (the imprint of the guys at Whiskybase). Though the reviews are being published a few days apart the whiskies were tasted together.
Glen Garioch 20, 1990 (49.6%; Bourbon Hogshead #5873, Kintra Whisky; from a purchased sample)
Nose: A little spirity at first and then some light fruit (green apples, peels and all) and a minerally, mildly sooty note. Quite austere. Not much development with time. Wait, with a lot more time there’s a light almondy note. Hmmm I can’t really say that water makes much of a difference to the nose; maybe brings out a faintly sweaty note.
Palate: Leads with that sooty note and then there’s the taste of an uncoated tablet on the tongue, some prickly pepperiness and a minerally sweetness. Oily texture. In fact, this might taste a bit like oiled machinery–not that I’ve licked much oiled machinery in my time. Okay, let’s add water. Ah yes, definitely more interesting with water: the pepperiness comes to the front and now there’s some lemon to go with it.
Finish: Medium. Nothing new–maybe a hint of lemon. The lemon is much stronger with water and there’s salt now too. And in general the finish gets more extended.
Comments: This seems very much a throwback to some late 70s whiskies I’ve had. Better with water. It reminds me in many ways of this 1977 Ardmore and this 1980 Dallas Dhu. It’s much closer to the Dallas Dhu than the Ardmore but doesn’t have much of even the mild fruitiness of the former. It’s a narrow profile that doesn’t offer much by way of direct pleasures but it’s a bracing change-up from the styles of whisky that are more in vogue these days. Still, I could have used a little more development and a little more counterpoint. If there’s anyone reading this who has tried this whisky and other Glen Gariochs pre-1994 (which, I think, is when they switched over to unpeated malt): is this more or less in line with how peaty Glen Garioch was in the 1980s?
Rating: 84 points.