Except for the teaspooned Glenfiddich 23 I’ve had a pretty good run so far with the most recent lot of K&L’s exclusive casks. I really liked both the Blair Athol 24 and the Craigellachie 16 and the Bunnahabhain 12 was not far behind: very high EW! ratings all around. And even the Glenfiddich was not bad, just a bit boring. The EW! rating, in case you’re wondering, is a special rating I have designed for very sensitive people who suffer emotional damage when they see what they think are very low scores on my K&L reviews—as far as I can make out, anything less than 90 points is very low for some people. Being a nice guy, I came up with this revolutionary rating system to help them focus on the words and not the numbers or to just feel good about the numbers if that’s all they care about. Anyway, I’m hopeful this young Glen Garioch will keep the general positive streak going. Glen Garioch can be a difficult distillate and I’ve certainly not been very enthused by the distillery’s official younger releases. Let’s see what this is like.
Glen Garioch 10, 2010 (59.2%; Old Particular for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: A gingery, lemony start with some aspirin mixed in as well. On the second sniff there’re some sweeter notes trying to come out from below. On the third sniff they pop: part floral, part red fruit, part cereals. With time and air the ginger recedes and it’s mostly about the red fruit (berries) and floral notes along with some cream and lemon peel—a farmy note too now. Weird but it works. More savoury notes (a beany quality) with a few drops of water and that farmy note is still here. A few more drops and now it’s lemon zest in the lead with that farmy note still around.
Palate: Comes in sweet with the red fruit (cherries, apples) and a big oaky bite as I swallow. Obviously high-strength but quite approachable. Spicier on the second sip and more lemon peel. The pepper pops out earlier with each sip but otherwise there’s no major change.Okay, let’s add water. Water pushes the oak and lemon back and pulls out more of the pepper and some of the cream from the nose. Okay, let’s add a few more drops. Ah, now it’s the early ginger from the note that’s the top note.
Finish: Long. It’s the oak and lemon peel that keep going; the oak becoming more peppery as it goes. The ginger comes back here. As on the palate with water, an unlikely mix of pepper and cream. Spicier and gingery here too with more water.
Comments: Now this is excellent value at $55. Absolutely non-cookie cutter malt that I’ll take over the distillery’s younger OB releases any day. If I were visiting L.A I’d pick up a bottle for sure for casual sipping in the summer. You have to give it time and water though to appreciate it fully on the palate. But add the water a bit at a time—I liked it better after the first addition than after the second.
Rating: 86 points.
EW! Rating: 110/100 points.