Completing the Morrison Bowmore entry level trio, Glen Garioch was until recently, the less known of the three brands. This is changing now with more focus put into this distillery, a focus that is well deserved, as this Highland distillery is the true jewel in this company’s portfolio.
Glen Garioch is one of the oldest working distilleries, active from 1797, with a small core range (the NAS Founder’s Reserve and the 12) and several vintage releases (dating intermittently from 1978-1999), as well as a limited edition matured in virgin oak. Anything not bottled at cask strength, is bottled at 48% ABV and all are non chill filtered. Why this policy wasn’t adopted for Bowmore and for Auchentoshan is just beyond me.
Until 1993, the malting was done on site, so you’ll find a significant difference between the peatier whisky produced by the in-house maltings to those after. Unlike the cooperage which was turned into the visitor center in 2004, the maltings remain intact, and returning to in-house malting is not out of the question for Glen Garioch.
It’s worth noting that the distillery is a leader in environmental technology, and was both one of the first distilleries to reuse energy for preheating the wash with heat from the kiln, and later using that heat to warm an acre of greenhouses to grow vegetables and flowers. Later, Glen Garioch became the first distillery to switch to using natural gas.
Glen Garioch 12 (48% ABV, NCF)
Appearance: Light bronze with slowly forming very thin legs.
Nose: Sweet and dusty malt, light wood spice, a touch of mustiness (which here is endearing, as it’s not prominent enough to be irksome), notes of sherry and some dried fruit – but not freshly laid out dried fruit. Passion fruit develops over time in the glass with notes of a tropical fruit yogurt and notes of vanilla and honey. The dram gets sweeter to the nose after you sip some, with the honey becoming more pronounced.
A touch of water opens it up nicely and releases a lot of the honey.
Palate: Mouth drying and lightly sweet at the same time, with peppery spice and cinnamon on the tongue and dusty citrus as an overall note.
The addition water moves it directly into the “spice bomb” camp.
Linger: Creamy and dry feel lingers for a long time, with a tangyness in the inner cheeks, spice on the tongue and back of the throat.
With water, the linger is sweeter and longer.
Complex and interesting. This dram definitely works, especially if you like the dry and tangy style, as I do. I finally found a Morrison Bowmore whisky I like.
Staunchly a Highlander, this is a great tipple, with the ABV leaving the drinker enough wiggle space to add water more than once and enjoy the different effects that has. And at under £40, this is great value for your quid.