I have visited this distillery once, and I think it's one of the most visited distilleries in Scotland being the closest distillery to the country's third biggest city Aberdeen. The experience was quite nice and we got to try some standard bottlings after the tour. I feel however, with my latest experiences drinking Glen Garioch, that it has some miles to walk to claim any glory on behalf of its single malt bottlings. Let's see... (Remember my favorite distillery is its southern neighbor Fettercairn).
Glen Garioch 12yo 40% OB
One from the 90's I think, with a dark purple colored label. It is becoming one of the few (I know there's still quite some left) that's bottling their whiskies at 40%abv. Dark golden color. It smells light, dirty, earthy, clay, polyester, hard to get a predicament on what to expect on the palate. The taste is licorice, burnt bread, oily, sulphur, raw mushrooms, a very rustic and unfashionable style that grows on you, or at least on me it does. The aftertaste is oaky and bitter, some wool notes and linseed oil.
I think this must be one of those cult whiskies: 4
City of Aberdeen 10yo ?% Glen Garioch Distillery
I have no idea at what strength this is bottled as there are no indicators on the label, but I would suspect 40 or 43%. It's one bottled for the city of Aberdeen to mark some event. The label states "Bon Accord Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again". In fact the first two lines were what I felt when I left Aberdeen, I haven't chosen to meet again, but I surely would if the opportunity should present itself in the future. The color is golden brown/orange. It smells rich and perfumy with an aniseed and spirity note. Dried paprika, red onions, wax, rich creamy sherry, oloroso, cinnamon, layers of goat cheese and honey, I sincerely think this is one of the best smelling whiskies I've ever come across. The taste is rich, all on sulphury sherry notes and some fried onions and blueberry jam. With water it turns bigger, more powerful, earthy notes, gasoline, stearic. The aftertaste shows little complexity and leaves a little to be desired.
A perfect nose, a middle palate and a simple finish: 5
Glen Garioch NAS 48% OB Founder's Reserve
Again this orange color on the whisky. I hope the higher %abv can make it climb a few stairs on the point ladder, as the prior two were very insignificant, to use a vague expression. It smells sweet, some bourbon, burnt wood, glue, pine wood, coal fire, gasoline. The taste is bitter and salty. Alongside some perfumy notes and light vanilla. Another one that's hard to find out what really is about. I'd say this on perhaps a whisky for those that needs more power than finesse in their whisky experience.
I think there is a lack of good casks at G.G., but that's a very personal opinion: 3
Glen Garioch 20yo 1991-2011 52.2% Single malts Direct
The first real IB in this session, I hope that the people of SMD who have found some gold in the warehouses of Glen Garioch. The oldest, yet the lightest in color in this tasting so far. I guess they do some coloring still at Glen Garioch. It smells honey and lime, some grassy and earthy notes, pine nuts and roasted almonds. The taste is immensely sweet, honey and oak, malt syrup, white wine vinegar and sweet red apples. I believe it could use some water, but to me its also a perfectly drinkable rollercoaster of a whisky thus far. With a small addition of water it turns sweet, camphor and vanilla. The aftertaste is short and light, some malt and wheat.
The nose and palate was good, but the finish left something to be desired: 5
Glen Garioch 19yo 1991-2010 54.7% OB batch#38
Same vintage as the prior one by Single Malts Direct, which I think is an online retailer. I bought this bottle at the distillery shop when visiting the distillery. I remember the town had a decent butcher who served me an amazing Haggis. Hard to reckon why, but this has got the lightest color of them all so far in this tasting. Golden. It smells spicy, tangerine, orange peel, glue. The taste is all on vanilla and camphor, a bourbon bomb if such a thing exists. Personally I believe it is a bit ruined by the huge spiritiness.
I believe they could've put better stock into this bottling: 2
Glen Garioch 18yo 1988-2006 53.9% James MacArthur's
Once again I'll finish a rather lousy session with a JMcA. I hope this one will be the epiphany this range has showed to be on many other equations for me. The color is gold/golden brown. It smells rich, raisins, honey, sugar, wheat, medicinal, camphor, cough drops, very well so far. The taste is just rich, honeyed, cinnamon, coriander, perfumy, soda water, dried red paprika, barbecue sauce, again honey. The sweet banana and lemon/vanilla on the palate just blows me away. An mazing whisky which deserves much recognition.
Best one by far in this session: 8
Next tasting: Glencadam Distillery