A new review this week and it focuses on a 19 Years Old expression from Glen Garioch distillery which has been bottled for The Single Cask bar. This beauty has been bottled at a staggering 62.7% abv, but it is more of an iron fist within a velvet glove.
But before we get into the review, as always we will first delve into the history of the distillery.
Glen Garioch distillery (Picture credit: www.whisky.com)
The distillery was founded in 1797 (making it one of a handful of distilleries which survived from that era into modern times and in illustrious company with the likes of Glenturret, Bowmore, Highland Park and Balblair) by Thomas Simpson and was under his control until 1837, when it was purchased by John Manson & Co., who was the owner of the Strathmeldrum distillery which has long since vanished into the pages of history.
The distillery remained in the hands of John Manson & Co. until 1908, when William Sanderson formed the Glengarioch Distillery Company and purchased the distillery from them and absorbed it into his own company, Sanderson & Son.
Sanderson & Son controlled the distillery until 1933, when the company merged with gin maker Booth's Distilleries Ltd. Both companies were acquired in 1937 by the mighty Distillers Company Limited (DCL), which was the predecessor of what is known today as Diageo.
The distillery was run by DCL until 1968, when it was decommissioned and mothballed. It was then purchased in 1970 by Stanley P. Morrison Ltd., who proceeded to restart production three years later. The distillery was expanded slightly, with a further still being added in 1978.
The stills at Glen Garioch distillery. (Picture credit: www.thespiritsbureau.wordpress.com)
In the years between 1978 and 1994, Suntory Holdings Limited (the producers of whisky such as Yamazaki, Hakushu) purchased a controlling stake within what was by then known as Morrison Bowmore Distillers Ltd, before taking full control by 1995. This meant that Suntory now controlled distilleries such as Bowmore, Auchentoshan, and of course Glen Garioch.
Suntory proceeded to mothball the distillery in 1995 before choosing to reopen it in August 1997 and resuming production. The owners have since shifted their focus from both Bowmore and Auchentoshan and are now committed to growing the Glen Garioch brand. The distillery's output has grown substantially from 520,000 litres in 2010 to the current production capacity of 1.37 million litres and the brand sales have steadily risen in that time, with over 250,000 bottles having been sold on an annual basis since 2013.
Most of the production is destined to be bottled as single malt under the Glen Garioch brand, although a part of the production is bottled under the McClelland's brand of single malts, with the Highlands representative being a young Glen Garioch.
In terms of equipment, the distillery sports a 4.4 tonne full lauter mash tun, eight stainless steel washbacks with a fermentation time of 48 hours and one pair of stills (the third still has not been used for a long time and has lain dormant for many years now).
The distillery is currently able to do up to 16 mashes per week and this would allow for a total annual production volume of 1.37 million litres of pure alcohol.
The core range consists of just the 1797 Founder's Reserve (without age statement) and a 12 Years Old expression, with both having been bottled at 48% without chill filtration. There are also a multitude of Duty Free exclusives which can be found in airports across the UK as well as around the world.
So, let's get on with the review!
Glen Garioch 1995 19 Years Old (Bottled for The Single Cask)
Nose: Initial entry presents a big alcohol hit followed by malt, lemon citrus and hints of grass. The cask strength nature of this dram does mellow out rather quickly and honeysuckle, parma violet sweets, black pepper and a touch of salt are also present.
Palate: Big, bold and relatively spicy on initial entry, with the lemon citrus from the nose intermingling with papaya and white grapes on the palate. There is a noticeable amount of heat on the palate, but not as much as the alcohol strength of this dram would suggest and it does mellow out after some time.
Sweet malt, freshly mowed grass, black pepper and a certain savoury note makes this a rather well crafted dram with a relatively complex mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium on the finish, with sweet, malty, grassy and spicy elements making an appearance. There is a straw-like taste at the end which tends to accentuate the grassiness.
Balance: Quite a well-balanced and well presented dram and considering that the alcohol strength is at a staggering 62.7% after 19 years of maturation, it is rather impressive. The mouthfeel is drying and it may require a splash of water, but one would be able to leave this to mellow out on its own before savouring. Truly an iron first within a velvet glove!
The Single Cask Glen Garioch 1995 19 Years Old is available at the bar and can be purchased by the bottle for in-bar consumption for $452 (with an additional 10% service charge being levied on top) or by the dram for $40 (with an additional 10% service charge being levied on top).
Patrons are also able to purchase the bottle for retail/takeaway purposes at a discounted price of $316.40 per bottle and without any additional service charges. 100ml sample bottles of this whisky can also be purchased for in-bar and retail purposes so please do approach the friendly bar staff for more information.
Comments will be approved before showing up.