Google Glen Garioch to start the year

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

January 2, 2022





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Glen Garioch to
start the year
Glen Garioch feels like the ideal distillery with which to see in 2022, it seems to me a name that's as much about the past as the future. After all, it has delivered us stunning highs and abysmal lows over the decades. However, in keeping with its Islay sibling, Bowmore, it seems to have only improved since around the start of the 1990s.


What's also heartening news is that the work taking place this past year at the distillery will bring back floor maltings and direct-fired wash distilling. That's much smarter and far more interesting than just another blend-fodder capacity expansion. As such, I think Glen Garioch will continue to be a fun distillery to follow throughout the 2020s.

Glen Garioch



McClelland's Highland Single Malt 16 Year Old (40%, OB, US import, 1990s, 75cl)

McClelland's Highland Single Malt 16 Year Old (40%, OB, US import, 1990s, 75cl)
(Picture illustrative only, it was actually a screen printed label but Angus tthrew the bottle out before taking a photograph. Bah... Ed.) This should be Glen Garioch, but you never know… Colour: orangey gold - caramel! Nose: definitely feels like some kind of old 'transitional' Glen Garioch. That is to say some earthy peat sloshing about in the depths, but also some barley water, mashed potatoes and things which stray a little too close to washing up liquid for my liking. A mix of pre-75 and later vintages perhaps? Mouth: it's ok actually, this anticipated soapiness doesn't strike. Instead, however, you get emptiness instead. And this impression of bitter, slightly rancid marmalade. Touches of cardboard and cheesecloth and plastic. Weird and not good to be honest. Finish: medium but altogether too long as it's sour, acidic and focussed on these plastic notes, almost like fresh nappies dropped in dishwater. Weird! Comments: It probably was Glen Garioch and almost certainly drawn from some of these highly unlikely vintages from the late 70s / early 80s. Not particularly soapy, but not good either!
SGP: 431 - 58 points.



What a way to start the year! Theoretically, we can only go upwards from there…



Glen Garioch 8 yo (55%, Dram Mor, bourbon, 241 bottles, 2020)

Glen Garioch 8 yo (55%, Dram Mor, bourbon, 241 bottles, 2020)
Colour: buttery white wine. Nose: wonderfully fresh distillate that's totally dominated by raw and natural ingredients. Freshly malted barley, lemon barley water, freshly baked baguette, white flowers, nectars, pollens, sweet oatcakes and barley sugars. A lovely natural sweetness pervades the nose. With water: leaner, more on pure cereals, sunflower oil, hand lotion, mineral oils and things like cactus and sheep wool. Mouth: lovely arrival, same as the nose but with added waxes, grassiness, cooking oils and touches of carbon paper and hessian. Fat and chunky, high calibre distillate! With water: still nicely tense, natural and pure. Some lemon peel emerges now, also wee touches of ink, soot, dried herbs, putty - rather a lot going on really. Finish: medium, on bison grass, lemon rind, white pepper, lighter waxes and mineral oils again. Comments: I'm slightly taken aback by how much I enjoy this extremely classy, humble and totally charming wee Glen Garioch. Great distillate that recalls some older, fully naked, 100 proof Glen Grant bottlings by G&M and an easiness that makes it wonderfully drinkable. Top work by the good folk at Dram Mor!
SGP: 462 - 88 points.



Glen Garioch 18 yo 1979/1997 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.14 'Germoline, peat and strawberry jam')

Glen Garioch 18 yo 1979/1997 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #19.14 'Germoline, peat and strawberry jam')
1979? Glen Garioch? This could really go either way… Colour: coppery amber. Nose: well, mercifully there's no trace of soap so far. In fact this is actually pretty lovely, all on roast nuts, porcini, ham, black coffee with caramel sauce and pu ehr teas, game meats and indeed something medicinal that does recall germoline at points. No doubt some trace amounts of peat sloshing about in the mix somewhere. With water: mentholated, full of various shades of fruit tobaccos, jams, pot pourri, spiced blood orange marmalade and these rather voluptuous and fruity waxes. Mouth: very funny! This is red kola with Tizer, Irn Bru sweeties, cherry cough medicine, strawberry syrup, wintergreen, medical vapour rubs and red liquorice. Also some pink pepper, waxes and pine wood resins. more than a little mad but nevertheless quite enjoyable. With water: red fruit teas, crusted port, madeira loaf, pomegranate sorbet - what is going on? Finish: medium, mentholated, jammy, herbal, full of cough syrups, fir resins, winter mulling spices and some kind of Buckfast diluting juice! Comments: I could not tell you what sort of cask this was matured in, or what on earth just happened. But… I can confirm it is clean, slightly peaty, very funny, quite weird and almost embarrassingly fun! Should this random old bottle cross your path, I would recommend you try it.
SGP: 653 - 89 points.



Glen Garioch 1972 (43%, OB for Oddbins, mid 1990s)

Glen Garioch 1972 (43%, OB for Oddbins, mid 1990s)
One of a series of vintage releases, supposedly all single casks, for Oddbins in the 1990s - they've had some totally stunning exclusive bottlings in their time Oddbins. I have very fond memories of when I worked in the Hillhead, Glasgow branch around 2007. Although, at that time we were generally drinking cases of Super Bock directly from the freezer, not so much 72 Glen Garioch. Colour: bright amber. Nose: yup! Exquisite. A pure and vivid expression of older style peat character that brings to mind 1950s Highland Park or 1960s Ardbeg. A wealth of dried up roots, herbs, ointments and embrocations. Tar liqueur, fir resins, ancient herbal extracts, roof felt and slightly mentholated tobaccos. The kind of nose that endlessly subdivides, from which you can extract any number of aromatic details. Let's not also forget waxes too! Mouth: wonderful arrival, fully on camphors, tars, peat oils (if such things do exist) but also deeply complex earthy and bitter chocolatey components from the sherry. There's also fruits as well, exotic and dark ones that manifest as crystallised and preserved. The texture is thick, with a resinous salinity, umami pastes, bouillon, meats, tar… immense, detailed, beautiful and yet also gentle thanks to the bottling strength which feels like an asset here. Finish: long, deep, warming and glowing with peat embers, tar, medicinal roots and herbs, earthy black teas, salted liquorice and walnutty rancio. The sherry and peat being completely fused into a perfect whole. Comments: immense whisky that's probably a perfect illustration of why we talk about 'old style' peat and sherry characteristics. This gathers both into a poetically beautiful single dram.
SGP: 664 - 94 points.



Glen Garioch 1966/1997 (43%, Samaroli, casks #1309-1299, 696 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1966/1997 (43%, Samaroli, casks #1309-1299, 696 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: very different in style, a rather fragile, vapoury and floral smokiness that shows brittle chalky and seashell aspects along with coal smoke, sooty embers, minerals and beach wood. A style that suggests a distant influence of peat which has broken down - decayed almost - under the eroding influence of decades in both cask and bottle. There is beauty here, but also a background suggestion of violets and soap. Mouth: ok, in all honesty, I find this too soapy for me. I'm quite sensitive to it anyway, and this is a good example where it tips into flawed in my book. There's other stuff going on too, waxes, citrons, wet rocks, smoked green teas - pleasure in other words. It's just that these don't gel with, or dominate, those more floral soapy tones. As such the impression is one of dissonance. Finish: rather long but it tends to be the soap that dominates sadly, floral smoke, touches of violets again and coal dust. Comments: what a totally fascinating whisky Glen Garioch can be. To make such luminal, genius whiskies like that 1972 (and many others don't forget), while in neighbouring vintages producing such funny, complicated and problematic spirit such as this which defy easy explanation, makes for a frustrating and head scratching experience. It's worth noting that Serge enjoyed this one quite a lot more back in 2007 (WF 88), so perhaps it is my sample, or perhaps it's a whisky which suffers from prolonged exposure to air? Perhaps it was this particular bottle? I'd like to try this one again sometime from another bottle, that's for sure. But these batches do tend to have a certain…'reputation'. Now, the nose and the palate both had some very pretty aspects as well, so…
SGP: 563 - 75 points.



Thanks to KC and Iain!



Happy new year to all friends and readers of Whiskyfun!




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