I’ve not had much luck with Glen Garioch on the blog. Among the recent official releases I’ve reviewed, I liked the 16 yo Binny’s exclusive but the Founder’s Reserve and the 12 yo didn’t get me very excited. The older independents that I’ve reviewed have also not gone very far past the good/very good boundary. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being on the good/very good boundary—only that I haven’t reviewed a great one yet. This includes three others from the 1990 vintage: a 20 yo and a 22 yo from Kintra Whisky and a 21 yo from Archives. Will this slightly older 25 yo from Signatory be much better? Others who participated in the bottle split this sample came from had very good things to say about it, so I’m hopeful. (By the way, as you may know, in 1990 Glen Garioch were still using malt peated to a higher level than their current output. I believe it was in 1993/94 that their peating regimen changed.)
Glen Garioch 25, 1990 (50.6%; Signatory; hogshead #2752; from a bottle split)
Nose: Putty, wax and some earthy, mineral peat. A little sweeter on the second sniff: wet wool, wet concrete. Some acid comes up from below (citronella, preserved lemon) and the organic notes take a turn from the fields towards the stables. With a small splash of water the preserved lemon expands and there’s a note reminiscent of metal polish.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose, which is to say, very, very good. Austere with flashes of colour; very old school profile. A little saltier as it goes. The texture is a little bit thin but that’s my only complaint. Gets quite peppery with water and, as sometimes happens, the texture gets richer too.
Finish: Long. The earthy notes transition to pepper and then some lovely preserved lime with pickling spices (mustard seed, coriander seed) comes wafting up. With water it’s the same but more so (and the finish is even longer).
Comments: This is really very good and, as I said, quite old school. Among current malts this is probably closest to the Longrow profile; otherwise, it’s very much in line with mildly peated Highland whiskies of an earlier era. If only Glen Garioch hadn’t moved away from malt peated to this level! Wish I’d bought a full bottle—though I can’t remember if I saw it when it was released.
Rating: 90 points.