1968 was a horrible year for Glen Garioch. A drought was ravishing Islay, and DCL/SMD was worried about the supply of peated whisky for its blends three years hence. It was decided that one of the many DCL Highland distilleries would be switched to distilling heavily peated whisky. Glen Garioch was the go-to selection, as it had an active malting floor and was still producing (lightly) peated whisky.
However, Glen Garioch was struggling with its own water supply problems, and reliability of supply was a definite issue. Hence, the DCL brass turned their eyes northward, to Clynelish. Earlier that year, Clynelish moved into the newly built six still distillery across the road from the historic two still 1819 distillery, which was mothballed. Named ‘Clynelish B’, the old distillery was put back into operation to stand in for the silent Islay stills, making heavily peated whisky. Renamed ‘Brora’ after an SWA intervention requiring that no two distilleries bear the same name, it stood in for Islay whisky until 1973, when the newly renovated and vastly expanded Caol-Ila came online.
Glen Garioch, however, did not fare as well, and once it was deemed un-useful for covering the company’s peated whisky needs, it was closed, with no plans to revive it. Things didn’t look promising at all for Glen Garioch in 1968, a fortune which would turn with the new decade arriving. Ironically, had Glen Garioch been chosen to be “Brora”, it would have probably drowned in the whisky loch of the 1980s, and would have maybe been utterly revered today, who knows? 😉
This is still under SMD, so we have floor maltings and direct fired stills at Glen Garioch, but as far as barley goes we’re in Golden Promise era.
The first single cask is an OB bottled in 1997 at 29 years old, and the second is a cask drawn upon specifically for this tasting.
Glen Garioch 1968 Cask 621, Sherry Hogshead, Distilled 27.4.1968, Bottled 1997 (56.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Dark Copper, very slow keys, evenly spaced off a sturdy necklace.
Nose: Deep Sherry, with a first hit of dirty diesel oil followed by red fruit and some dried fruit. Under the sweetness is a hint of peat. Some time removes the Garage notes, leaving a sweeter nose. Water brings out more of the peat with smoked meat.
Palate: Woody and herbal, with spice and an ashy/oaky taste. The herbaility is a bit harsh it seems it could benefit from some water
water: Tones down the lavender and tones up the wood and the Sage.
Linger: Dry, sweet and herbal with a sweetness hiding under the dry, bitter notes. Sage and a bit of lavender mix in with a red fruit coulis. With water the Spice is more pronounced.
Classic old Sherry, 29 years old, and a beautiful window into Glen Garoich in the final SMD year of operation.
Glen Garioch Single 1968 Refill Sherry Hogshead, Distilled 18.5.1968, Drawn 4.12.2019 (49.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Deep copper, thin and evenly spaced legs running off a pretty sturdy necklace.
Nose: Tobacco leaf, dried fruit, cinnamon, clove. Dried cherries and sherry dryness, with other dried fruit (namely apricot leather and prunes) and wood. What an old stately sherry cask. I could smell this for hours. After a while, a touch of sage wafts up as well as a subtle touch of tonka bean.
Palate: A wave of woodsy herbality gives way to spice, with a fruity sweetness developing amid the oaky dryness of the last wave on the palate.
Linger: Red fruit jam on the tongue, tangy spice on the inside of the cheeks and some spice down the gullet. The linger here is really divided into separate areas of the mouth.
The second sip enhances the wood spices.
The nose is a stunning old sherry cask, with everything you’d expect from a 50 year old cask. The linger is nothing short of majestic, and with the exception of the light herbality on the palate, definitely in line with the other 1968 OB.
There is no doubt, this cask is a total joy.
What an experience, getting as close to my birth year as Glen Garioch can, and allowing us a peek at the whisky at almost 30 and at 50 years old.
Once again, here’s a shoutout to my dear friend in the Granite City, Mr. Dutto!