Glen Garioch 12, 2008 (Old Particular for K&L)

Okay, let’s move away from Diageo distilleries. You’ll recall that, as with last week’s survey of Diageo distillery exclusives (here, here and here), this is also a week of reviews of highlands distilleries. It started on Monday with a 12 yo Teaninich bottled for K&L in California. Today, I have for you a 12 yo Glen Garioch also bottled for K&L in California. This one is not from the Thompson Bros. but from one of K&L”s usual hookups: Old Particular (a label from one of the Laing outfits). Bourbon cask Glen Garioch is often austere and always interesting and I’m hoping this one will be too. Let’s dive right in.

Glen Garioch 12, 2008 (52.6%; Old Particular for K&L; refill barrel; from a bottle split)

Nose: A very interesting opening with a mix of lime and mineral notes with some pine and powdered ginger mixed in there as well. On the second sniff there’s a bit of vanilla as well and then it starts getting floral (not flowers themselves so much as floral-scented talcum powder). Gets fizzier as it sits (i.e it smells like it should be a fizzy, fruity drink) and also simultaneously begins to smell like gin. A few drops of water push the talcum powder back; still floral though. Continue reading


Glen Garioch 10, 2010 (Old Particular for K&L)

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. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 24, 1993 (OMC 20th Anniv. Release)

Oh my god, will this fucker’s series of reviews of OMC 20th Anniversary releases ever end? Yes, it will, but not today. I still have a couple of unopened bottles left after throwing this one on the pile.

I was very interested in this bottle though. I really liked the last two Glen Gariochs of this general age and vintage that I tried (both from Signatory: a 25 yo and a 26 yo) and I was hoping this would be close to that level. As you may remember, Glen Garioch used mildly peated barley till the early 1990s. They stopped doing so in 1994 and this was distilled in 1993. I opened the bottle for my local group’s January tasting and it was a big hit. Indeed, two members of the group decided to purchase full bottles. I liked it very much too and have been waiting to come back to it to take more careful notes. Here now are those more careful notes. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 26, 1990 (Signatory for the Whisky Exchange)

A little bonus of my time in Edinburgh this June was finally getting to meet James, who comments on the blog from time to time, and who I’ve known on the whisky web for a while. He lives in Glasgow but as it’s a short hop from there to Edinburgh, he came over for a drink one night. We met at the Bow Bar and had a very good time talking a little about whisky but mostly about other things (and drinking a fair bit of peaty whisky). He was the source of some very good advice (he recommended the tour at Highland Park highly which I liked it a lot) and also some angst (he warned that our crossing of the Pentland Firth to Orkney might be really choppy; thankfully, it wasn’t). He was also the source of this generous sample of Glen Garioch 26, 1990 bottled by Signatory for the Whisky Show in Glasgow early last year. I’ve not had much pre-1995 Glen Garioch (that was the year they stopped using peated malt) and the last Glen Garioch from this year that I tried was a belter, with quite a bit of peat influence—and it was also bottled by Signatory. As such I was looking forward to getting into this one, which I finally did a couple of weeks later in London. Here now are my notes.  Continue reading

Glen Garioch 25, 1990 (Signatory)

Glen Garioch 25, 1990, Signatory
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.) Continue reading

Glen Garioch 16, 1998 (for Binny’s)

Glen Garioch 16, 1998, for Binny's
I haven’t had too much luck with recent Glen Garioch. Then again, I’ve not had very much of what’s been officially released. I didn’t like either the NAS Founder’s Reserve or the 12 yo enough to want to try their other vintage releases. This is a single cask selected by Binny’s though and a Binny’s pick is usually a safe pick. Well, that didn’t prove to be true for me with Monday’s Clynelish. Let’s see how this one goes.

Glen Garioch 16, 1998 (55.1%; American oak cask 587; from a bottle split)

Nose: Slightly gingery, slightly minerally, slightly peppery to start along with some biscuity/malty notes. Fruit comes up from below that (apple), along with some vanilla. Gets sweeter and creamier as it goes but there’s a minerally sourness (aspirin) behind it. With more time there’s some lime as well. More lime with water and slightly chalky now too.   Continue reading

Glen Garioch 21, 1993 (Maltbarn)

Glen Garioch 21, 1993, Maltbarn
At least one person has asked me why I did not mention anything from Glen Garioch in the “austere whisky” category in my post on stocking a well-rounded single malt bar. After all, Glen Garioch rarely presents easy pleasures but has a strong reputation anyway. My answer was and is that I have not had much luck with recent official releases, and those are what are most easily available (especially the Founder’s Reserve and the 12 yo). Independent releases are a different matter and show the distillery in a better light, in my view. That said, it is true that the indies I’ve tried tend to be from earlier eras than the standard OBs—in fact, all three of the indies that I’ve reviewed were distilled in 1990 and were quite a bit older. This one is from 1993. 1994 is said to be when Glen Garioch stopped using peated malt and so it probably also does not have too much in common with contemporary official releases. But this is still around itself so you can see if my take sounds enticing enough for you to consider a bottle. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 22, 1990 (Kintra Whisky)

Glen Garioch 22, 1990
I have previously reviewed two Glen Gariochs from 1990. I quite liked this 21 yo from Archives, but was less enamored of this 20 yo, which was from the Dutch bottler, Kintra Whisky, as is the one I am reviewing today. Those were both from bourbon casks, whereas this one is from refill sherry and a hogshead at that. Indeed, it may be the only sherry cask among the few Glen Gariochs I’ve tried. Let’s get right to it.

Glen Garioch 22, 1990 (51.2%. refill sherry hogshead #7934; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Sherried indeed with raisins and orange peel but also a lot of pine resin and some rawer oak along with a lot of woody spice (clove, cinnamon). The raw wood subsides quickly and there’s more salt now. With even more time the pine subsides as well and now it’s more conventionally sherried with toffee and light salted caramel. With water there’s some apricot jam and lemon peel. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 21, 1990 (Archives)

Archives Glen Garioch, 1990

Following my recent review of a 20 yo from 1990 bottled by Kintra Whisky here is a 21 yo from Whiskybase’s Archives label, also from 1990. It was tasted, and these notes taken, right after the Kintra. It will not surprise you to learn that I found these to be similar in many ways. I also found them to be quite different from the current official releases that I’ve reviewed. Of course, that may simply be a function of these being single casks and being much older. They do make me want to seek out more Glen Garioch from the 1980s and earlier. Anyway, let’s get to the notes.

Glen Garioch 21, 1990 (54%; Hogshead #252, Archives; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Much richer than the Kintra with more malt, more toasted wood and a nice dose of peppery citrus (lemon peel, grapefruit). Faint hints of soot at first that gets a little more pronounced and minerally with time. With even more time those notes recede and its the citrus (bitter lemon peel) that presides. A couple of drops of water and time bring out rich apricot notes and some polished wood. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 20, 1990 (Kintra Whisky)

Kintra, Glen Garioch,1990

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. Continue reading

Glen Garioch 12

Glen Garioch 12

As I’ve never purchased a mini and do not accept samples (not that anyone has yet offered) I am not entirely sure where this mini of the Glen Garioch 12 came from. I suspect that it was included in an old order from the Whisky Exchange as part of some Morrison-Bowmore promotion but I’m not certain. At any rate, I feel comfortable posting reviews of freebies received well before I had even thought about having a blog (this may or may not be a contravention of my protocols). I do know I’ve had it for quite some time. I’ve never felt particularly motivated to taste it as a full bottle generally goes in the range of $50 in the US, and that’s usually above what I’m willing to pay for a 12 yo non-cask strength malt. But a local store currently has it on sale for a little below $40 so it seems like a good time to see if it’s any good (this review is being written in mid-September).

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Glen Garioch 8

Glen Garioch 8

Glen Garioch’s line of whiskies was revamped a couple of years ago, with new packaging, no chill-filtration, and higher strengths (not to mention, higher prices) the key changes. Oh, and some reductions in the ages of the core whiskies too. In place of the old 15 yo there is now a far more expensive 12 year old (a review follows tomorrow), and the NAS (and $20 more expensive) Founder’s Reserve replaced this old 8 yo (which used to be a staple in the Duty Free in New Delhi’s international airport in the early-mid 2000s, easily recognized by the stag on the label). I’ve never actually tried it before, however; no time like a few years after something went extinct to finally make its acquaintance.

Glen Garioch 8 (40%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: Over-ripe bananas and kiwi; quite grassy too. Not so very far away from the Founder’s Reserve with some gingery, woody notes present here as well. A little maltier with time. Let’s take it below 40% and see what happens: nothing, nothing happens. Continue reading

Glen Garioch, Founder’s Reserve


I have tried very little whisky from Glen Garioch (pronounced “Glen Geery”) which is currently owned by Suntory, who also own Bowmore and Auchentoshan. Far more experienced drinkers and reviewers swear by the quality and reputation of Glen Gariochs of an older period (from the mid-80s and before and apparently peated) but nobody seems to get too excited about anything produced in recent decades. The official distillery bottlings used to be a 8 yo and a 15 yo (with a stag on the label and a staple of airport duty-frees) but the lineup was revamped a few years ago. Unfortunately, but predictably, at one level this took the form of fancier bottles with younger whisky in them at higher prices. On the plus side of the ledger the abv was also raised, to 48%, and chill-filtering was dispensed with.

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