This seems to be only my second review of a whisky from the Glen Keith distillery in the Speyside (here’s the first). It used to be owned by Seagram and is now part of the Chivas/Pernod Ricard holdings, along with Strathisla, Aberlour, Scapa etc. But unlike those distilleries it’s not really known for single malt whisky and its production has historically been earmarked for blends. Also unlike the previously named distilleries, Glen Keith is not open to the public, though it is in the heart of the Speyside. We drove past it on the way to Strathisla this June. Strathisla is, of course, Pernod Ricard’s show distillery and it is an accurate allegory of the neighbouring Glen Keith’s status that Strathisla’s new make used to be piped to to their grounds for filling (I’m not sure if it still is).
As always, it is through the independent bottlers that we get to taste whiskies from distilleries such as this. My review today is of an older Glen Keith bottled this year by the excellent folk of Whiskybase for their Archives label. This is from a single bourbon hogshead and is still available. Like the Signatory release linked above, this is also from the 1995 vintage. The distillery was mothballed in 1999, by the way, and only reopened in 2013 by Pernod Ricard. This means this was distilled by the previous owners. Pernod Ricard launched a NAS Glen Keith last year; it remains to be seen if they will put out an age-stated release once their own spirit comes of greater age.
Glen Keith 22, 1995 (56%; Archives; hogshead #171245; from my own bottle)
Nose: Lemon peel, a bit of honey, malt and toasted oak. Just lovely. On the second sniff there’s muskier fruit lurking beneath and quite a lot of cereal. The oak gets a little spicier as it sits. The fruit doesn’t really expand with time; let’s see if water brings more of it out. Nope but the citrus and the cereal merge nicely.
Palate: Pretty much as promised by the nose with some white pepper mixed in with the lemon peel. Nice oily texture. The oak expands as it sits but with time and air it turns into bitter, oily lemon zest. With water the citrus is more sweet than bitter and there’s more pepper and malt;.
Finish: Long. The bitter lemon keeps going. More peppery here too with time and more oaky. Water pushes the oak back completely.
Comments: This is solid bourbon cask whisky but didn’t quite reach the heights I expected from the nose. The intense lemon, sweet and bitter, is very nice but more of the musky fruit hinted at in the nose would have taken this towards the next tier. I’ll be interested to see how this opens up as the bottle stays open.
Rating: 86 points.