Review: Four Glen Gariochs Reviewed (1986, 1995, 12yo, New Expression) – Generations Twitter Tasting


Generations – A Father’s Day Twitter Tasting

I was lucky enouogh to be invited to take part in a Glen Garioch Twitter Tasting, where we were able to taste the following four expressions:

A New Rare Find (an as yet unreleased new expression)

All hosted by the lovely Rachel Barrie (AKA TheLadyBlender), Morrison Bowmore’s Master Blender, some of her comments below represented with the tag RB.

Let’s take a look at the reviews in more depth…


glen-garioch-1986-batch-no-11-whisky1986 – 54.6% ABV NCF* (25yo)

RB says it’s “created from peated Glen Garioch matured in mostly 2nd fill hogsheads “.

Colour is a light gold. At first I couldn’t quite work out the nose, but then, yes, it’s peated, a very gentle sweet peat, like peat that’s made from dead strawberries or something. Those light summer fruity peaty notes interact with more classic vanilla caramel bourbony notes all coming together very happily.

On the palate this is a wee bit hot at first from the ABV, and really quite spicy, probably the most spicy of the bunch so far, that spice is uplifted by the subtle but definite peat smoke all mixed together in old but balanced oakyness; yet it is also still silky smooth as you expect to get from GG. It’s sweet and malty with a slight fire smoke intensity lingering around all the time. Hold this on your tongue for a long time and the spices subside leaving just pure oily joy in your mouth.

The finish is really long and richly warming, the peat works to add even more depth and flavour than you already would be used to finding, and behind it all there is the obvious bourbon influence just backing everything up and rounding it off. The oils keep this stuck to your mouth and palate for ages, and near the end creamy caramelised fruits come rushing at you in a last ditch attempt to be loved, and they are. What a shame it’s getting rather rare and not a style that’s produced any more (RB says: “We do have a few peated batch experiments at the distillery… watch this space!” – Great news).

Water makes this just a little easier to drink and is therefore a good thing generally, but it does kill the gentle peat just a wee touch… but the whole thing stays fizzy and zingy all the same, so go for it!

RB says that the “1986 has. fruit, smoke, oil, herbs, heather. Like restoring my vintage motorbikes under my granda’s pear tree”.

Available from Master Of Malt for £157.77


glen-garioch-1995-batch-10-whisky1995 – 55.3% ABV NCF* (18yo-ish)

This was, says RB, “An exceptional year, distillery was mothballed in 1995 for 18months. Last production before then.”

Light straw to pale gold in colour, indicating a bourbon matured whisky. The nose seems to confirm that (as does RB: “100% hand selected 1st fill bourbon casks “) with beautiful malty caramelly creamy vanilla notes together with damp oak. With some time the oaks back off a touch leaving a really sweet and summery set of aromas in your glass, along with custard power, that bit more concentrated vanilla that hasn’t yet been mixed with milk. Back to floral malt again, the barley is certainly the star. There’s just a very very subtle hint (but it’s definitely there) of peat and smoke here.

On the palate it’s got some heat for sure, it’s 55% after all, but it’s still retaining a smooth character, a full and nicely oily mouth feel, and lovely fresh summer fruits.

The finish is again quite long, helped by the fact it’s not chill filtered… oils stick around keeping flavour all over your palate for a good long while, lovely.

At that ABV it’s actually totally happy drinking without water, but if you do add some, it really brings out more lovely sweetness and creamy malty flavours without damaging the nature of it one little bit. RB says “Adding few drops of water is like adding cream.. mocha filled pancakes and smothered in dairy cream.”

RB’s tip on this: “I’d always recommend trying GG warmed in the hand – so much flavour, texture and richness.”

Available from Master of Malt for £61.41


glen-garioch-12-year-old-whisky12yo – 48% ABV NCF*

100% Gold in colour (RB says “The colour is from marrying of bourbon/ sherry casks”). On the nose there’s an elegance and age to this beyond it’s 12 years, big vanilla notes. Stewed apples and some autumn fruits all with a dollop of custard whist sitting outside with the grass freshly cut. Some boiled sweetie notes and a touch of chocolate (Cadburys Eclairs?). Described as “Rich, wholesome, malty” by Rachel Barrie. It “has all the maltiness you could want  from small stills, and spices from extra long lyne arm”. The tiniest bit of new make smell makes a small entrance after a good long time (nice to see the distillery character coming though).

On the palate it’s amazingly smooth and accessible for something that’s 48% abv. It’s got a nice warming and full mouthfeel with spices at an enjoyable level to keep your mouth tingling. It’s got a fresh (slightly menthol) type of feel to it, with enough rich fruits to keep you happy on a midsummers eve. It’s nicely balanced with enough sweetness to make it pleasant, but not too much to make it one dimensional and hide the other flavours.

The finish has a reasonably long length to it, again smooth but malty and fruity, with a spicy warming on your chest.

A drop of water brings out further sweetness and more fresh green apple flavours, whilst turning down the spices a level. Only a drop needed here, don’t drown it. RB says “Adding water makes all big lipids clump together, goes cloudy but oh so smooth.”

I’ve previously had the odd Glen Garioch that I’ve found a little hard to cope with, but this is not at all, it’s a smooth and interesting dram at a great price, one quite worthy of being on someone’s daily dramming shelf.

Rachel Barrie’s advice on this dram is to “Take some to hilltop on midsummer’s eve overlooking ripening barley fields”.

Available from Master Of Malt for £34.59


glen-garioch-TT-dram-4A New Rare Find – 48% ABV NCF* (tasted blind)

RB says: “The new Rare Find is something that’s never been done before with Glen Garioch.. an experiment brought to life… a wee touch of something new, work in progress. It’s NOT a finish! A wee hint. … The new Rare Find colour is coming from 100% maturation in one type of oak cask .”

Rich gold in colour, orange with a flash of pinky red. I’m told there’s no sherry in this, which you might at first wonder by the colour, but on the nose to me it smells like sherry’s Portuguese cousin, i.e. Port. It’s light, but with a back depth of dark fruits, crushed red grape nuts and a slight farmyard whiff, possibly the esters of new make / distillery character. There is a sweetness to this that does make you question is it from Rum casks rather than Port, I guess we’ll see!

On the palate it’s rumbustious, fruity, happy, jumpy, with nice mouthcoating oils and brown sugars, thankfully it stops short of being too sweet, so that it’s just purely enjoyable on your palate and in your mouth.

RB says “It’s certainly solid, chunky with lots of rich malt, oak. Scrummy legs too (would have to be a rugby player).”

The finish is as with the rest of the drams pretty long and oily, but this time coating your mouth with sweet fruits rather than malty spice, it’s totally pleasurable.

Adding a drop of water isn’t really needed as such, but does bring out extra fruit sweetness, touches of orange and a very subtle oak note. On the palate it makes it even more smooth.

RB says: “I call this a ‘velvet explosion’ of taste and texture, so much velvety malt and velvety oak.”

It’s a very accessible version of Glen Garioch, and one which I think will add a shining light onto this distillery very soon.

Not available just yet, RB says “It’s only weeks till The Velvet Malt, New Rare Find Glen Garioch will be bottled and in the shops! (The Velvet Malt is not it’s actual name…but thank you for the suggestion Matt). The Rare Find is rich Glen Garioch spirit in some special casks from 100 year old oak”.


*NCF = Non Chill-Filtered

Samples kindly provided by Morrison Bowmore Distillers. Thanks to Rachel Barrie for hosting to well on Twitter.



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