One of the original six ‘classic malts’ in Diageo’s range, this is the only remaining Lowlands distillery in the Diageo Portfolio.
Despite being owned by a giant, the whisky itself isn’t that talked about or marketed, unlike their triple distilled cross Lowlands rival, Auchentoshan (whom’s 12 year old I reviewed here). Glenkinchie seems to be almost an afterthought in Diageo’s range, and the sole survivor of the five Lowland distilleries that formed Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD) in 1914 together with Rosebank (closed 1993), St. Magdalene (1983), Clydesdale (1919) and Grange (1927). Only five years after forming, SMD was merged into the growing Distillers Company Limited (DCL), eventually today’s Diageo.
Glenkinchie has one of the largest stills in in industry, with a wash still that holds almost 31,000 liters and a spirit still that’s almost 21,000 liters in capacity. The lyne arms point downward in a steep angle, to prevent reflux and retain flavors. It does very well with the bitter flavors, less with the sweets.
Glenkinchie 12 (43% ABV)
Appearance: Gold, thick legs and residual drops that remain on the glass.
Nose: Honey, hay, malt, heather, open fields, light earthy perfume, an oily note, light spice, fresh cucumber, slight smoke, and a wheaty note.
Palate: Bitter citrus, pepper, allspice and chili pepper delivered in a very smooth mouthfeel.
Linger: Bitter citrus and a lot of pepper on the tongue, and a very spicy rather long linger.
The Glenkinchie 12 is an unremarkable malt. It’s not particularly bad, nor is it particularly good.
I will say that I’ve never tasted older expressions of Glenkinchie, and know of only a handful of independent bottlings and two 20 year old Diageo Special Releases (one in 2007, matured in a brandy cask at 58.4% and another in 2010 from an ex bourbon cask at 55.1%), so I really can’t say much more about how this malt fares with more time in the barrel, only that at 20 it was deemed by Diageo to be worthy of a Special Release.