My affinity for Glen Garioch is well known. So well known, in fact, that Mike from Abbey Whisky sent me an email saying he has a sample of his new Rare Casks release, a 21 year old Glen Garioch he’d like me to taste. It took some time, but the sample is here and I can’t wait to get into it.
This is the sixth release in Abbey’s own single cask release line, called ‘The Rare Casks’. Previous releases included a 17 year old Caperdonich, a 23 year old Bunnahabhain, 16 year old Ben Nevis (which looked like a beautiful sherry cask), a 22 year old Glencadam and a 13 year old cask from an anonymous distillery.
There’s quite a bit of Glen Garioch available from before the 1995 mothballing, and it’s being bottled at a 20-25 year range. Back in the early 90s, when the distillery still had its own maltings and kiln (double kiln, actually), this Highland whisky was lightly peated, and tasting anything from that period will make you instantly wish the distillery went back to its own floor malting. While I doubt this will happen, one can always hope 🙂
Abbey Whisky, The Rare Casks Release 6, Glen Garioch 1994, 21 Year Old, Refill Hogshead, 126 Bottles (55% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, with a thin and sturdy necklace peeling off slowly in thin droplets.
Nose: Light peat, honey, hint of cereal and a touch of moss. Hint of ginger and dried pineapple. Some time in the glass bring out more of the cereal, somewhat reminiscent of the smell in the mash tun room. A hint of vanilla custard creeps in.
Three drops of water put you in a crop of trees while it’s raining, with some chamomile tea with honey.
Palate: Bitter citrus, white pepper and peat. The spices then take over, with a peppery burn, with hints of cumin and cinnamon. A bit of water shifts the honey and pepper to the foreground. Water at a 1/10 ratio took this dram to a stunning sweet spot on the palate.
Linger: Grapefruit rind, whole peppercorns, turmeric and an underlying sweetness that’s just out of reach. The linger is long, with pepper ringing the gullet with warmth, and the mouth enjoying that bitterness for quite some time.
Classic “old style” Glen Garioch, this is an intense dram that hits many of my favorite characteristics. At 55%, it leaves with enough wriggle room to play with some water, and there’s an incredible sweet spot at (probably) around 52% where the sweetness, spiciness and bitterness all sing together like a well rehearsed choir singing the ‘ode to joy’.