Glen Garioch, pronounced Glen Geerie, used to be a powerhouse of a whisky and several legendary bottlings, like some “vintage” 1968’s or the Samaroli’s from the 70’s. It’s this tasters feeling, and I could be very wrong here, after that, Glen Garioch felt a little bit silent. Not production-wise of course. It just seems to have slipped into anonymity. I haven’t written a review of a Glen Garioch up untill now, since I don’t come across a lot of samples of Glen Garioch, nor do I buy a lot of more recent Glen Gariochs. A classic case of being biased? Thus the curtain rises and taking center stage is this bottle of Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve.
Four years ago Glen Garioch revamped the looks of their bottles. Exit the standard scotch liquor bottle with the stag label, and enter this elegant ánd dumpy (metro man) bottle. In the new range of Glen Garioch are some NAS (No Age Statement) bottles, Like this ‘Founder’s Reserve’ and the ‘Virgin Oak’. There is also a 12yo and the rest is all ‘Vintage’, where the younger ones are all cask strength and the older ones are bottled at the new preferred strength of 48% ABV. After 40%, 43% and 46% ABV, now an even higher proof becomes standard.
Color: Full Gold.
Nose: Very young and malty, spicy wood and it smells almost like new make spirit (this wears off with lots of breathing, so a half full bottle will smell better than a full one). Funky. Very spicy. Oriental. Nosed blind I would have gone for an Indian Whisky. Hints of sulphur. It fits the fashion of issuing younger and younger whiskies. This probably is not older than five or six years old with maybe some partial ageing in virgin oak. Grassy, vegetal (hints of lavas) and latex paint. Indian spices mixed in with butter and vanilla. Not quite what I expected. It starts out young and anonymous, almost lacking character, but give it room to breathe and this becomes a different puppy altogether. The character it has on the nose comes form the oak, nice cask management.
Taste: Punchy (hot) oak carried by the higher than usual ABV. Bitter wood, Indian spices again and an edge of silky bitterness. Also, I’m guessing here, this does need the higher ABV. Half-sweet and light with the slightest hint of bitterness from virgin oak, fresh walnut skins, cardboard and some licorice (and tar). This is a young woody whisky. The wood pushes the fruity notes a bit to the background. Anonymous at first, but also nothing actually wrong. But after some breathing… Warming finish with quite some staying-power. For a short while a creamy aftertaste.
Tomatin Legacy is also a Whisky that is not older than 5 years old. But for me a better and cheaper choice if you compare it to a freshly opened Glen Garioch. However the Tomatin doesn’t change much over time, whereas this Glen Garioch evolves quicker than anything Charles Darwin encountered. Just smell it after a while. Wonderful. Consider my interest in Glen Garioch rekindled.
These new kinds of NAS Whiskies are definitely tailored for a new type of Whisky-drinker. I’d like to know how this new Whisky-drinker is described…
(When I tasted it right after opening I gave it 76 points, go figure)
Thanks go out to Laura!