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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

October 18, 2013


Glen Garioch, ups and downs

Glen Garioch is a great distillate that went through several changes of styles over three or four decades, from heavy peat to coastal fruits via violets and, erm, lavender.  There are two interesting ones just out, one independent and one official, and for good measure we'll add a rare oldie to this short flight.

Glen Garioch 'Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2013)

Glen Garioch 'Virgin Oak' (48%, OB, 2013) Two stars After the Auchentoshan, here's another new malt by Morrison-Bowmore that's been matured in new American oak. Colour: dark gold. Nose: some sucrose right at first sniffs, some muscovado sugar, some vanilla, some spice mix for mulled wine, some ginger, some nutmeg, some cinnamon, probably quite some plum jam and that's pretty all. I find it impossible to recognise the distillery but the end result is pleasant so far, all on sweet and spicy oak. A new pack of speculoos. Mouth: creamy and peppery start, with a biting pepper that's similar to that of the Auchentoshan VO. Also plenty of ginger, strong green tea, more ginger, bitter chocolate and cinchona. Even the 'inherent' vanilla doesn't seem to manage to come through. Really lacks smoothness (I'd have never thought I'd write that one day). Finish: long and drying. The aftertaste is green and tannic, although there seems to be oranges somewhere. Comments: I'm wondering why the bourbons are never that tannic. Maybe a matter of charring? I'm glad there are many other - and excellent - official Glen Gariochs around these days. Oak can be a Scotch's best friend, or its worst enemy in my opinion. SGP:272 - 70 points (because, well, it's Glen Garioch!)

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1990/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #5874)

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1990/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #5874) Four stars and a half This one's brand new. Since the famous 1971s, Glen Garioch and Samaroli are two names that go well together. Colour: white wine. Nose: the exact opposite of the 'Virgin Oak', starting rather on fresh butter and porridge and developing on meadow flowers plus various tiny phenolic/greasy notes that give it a funny Longrowy profile. We're talking motor oil, soot, wet gravel, maybe ink, hay starting to ferment... It's even becoming a notch agavy - or should I say mezcaly? Naked and beautiful. Mouth: yes, this is excellent. There isn't any lavender left - while those from the 1980s could have some, we rather find several kinds of oranges (blood, bitter...) and a very peculiar grassiness, not to mention these wee sooty/tarry notes that are so enjoyable. Touches of salt as well. Finish: long, with more bitter oranges, lemon, tonic water (or even Campari) and a lingering peatiness. When bitterness is wonderful. Comments: big personality. It's challenging at times, but lovers of 'old sooty drams' should try this baby. Well done Samaroli! SGP:353 - 89 points.

Glen Garioch Highland 15 yo 1972 (60%, Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection II, +/-1987)

Glen Garioch Highland 15 yo 1972 (60%, Slim Cowell’s Personal Selection II, +/-1987) Five stars Bottled by owners Morrison-Howat for the excellent and much missed whisky enthusiast Slim Cowell. Please note that the label does not mention Glen Garioch, but it does mention the owners so we cannot be mistaken, can we? Colour: dark gold. Nose: waaah! Burning peat and cigars at first nosing, this is superb! It's well still from Glen Garioch's peaty times, it's almost Ardbeggy. No wonder, Slim Cowell was a fan of both Ardbeg and Glen Garioch. Goes on with big medicinal tones, antiseptic, camphor, then old pu-erh tea and dried kelp (always great news in my book) and this je-ne-sais-quoi that screams 'legend!' Immense whisky. With water: no no no, this is impossible. It couldn't have gotten even more entrancing. Mouth (neat): a blast! Huge, concentrated, camphory, orangy and peaty, this is one of the most medicinal peat monsters I could ever try. Litres of pinesap and pitch. With water: rounder, creamier, earthier... Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade, thanks. Insane whisky. Finish: absolutely endless. Smoked marmalade, touches of lime, tar... And hundreds of tinier flavours. Comments: one of the ugliest labels ever (made on a Commodore or a Sinclair?) on one of the most brilliant bottles of malt ever. Doesn't that say something? Anyway, my respects, Mr. Cowell. SGP:467 - 95 points.

(with many, many thanks to Hubert)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Garioch I've tasted so far







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