Glen Garioch 15yo (53.7%, OB, Oloroso Sherry Cask Matured, 2016)

Back in 2013 I reviewed Glen Garioch’s entry-level Founder’s Reserve bottling. Maybe a simple Whisky at first, but showing potential with its development in my glass. In the end it scored (maybe only) 83 points, and I concluded that my interest in Glen Garioch was rekindled. Fast Forward to 2019 and here finally is my rekindled interest with this Glen Garioch bottling. Took me long enough! I picked this one from my lectern because it goes fast, very fast, and the bottle is only 1/4 full, (or 3/4 empty if you are a pessimist). Considering I opened it not too long ago, you can already conclude I like it very much, although I could have had other uses for tasty Whisky as well.

This particular bottling saw the light of day in 2016 in travel retail outlets, like airports, on ferry’s and such. However by 2018, and maybe sooner, this bottling seems to be more widely available. Maybe Glen Garioch is our little secret and not widely known to the general public. Well if you ask me, this bottling should stay our little secret and I also feel this isn’t very suitable for the general public to boot, but more about that later. As far as I know, there are two batches made of this: L162341 and L162342. The bottle I have carries the lower of both numbers.

Color: Copper orange brown.

Nose: Creamy, spicy and fresh. Very exotic. Almost Indian, tasted blind I might have said Amrut. Lots of creamy woody notes quickly follow suit. Sawdust and pencil shavings, not old wood. Lots of backbone to this. Typical Oloroso notes we also know from Aberlour A’Bunadh, yet here it is somewhat less harsh, less alcohol as well, but also older and the spiciness is definitely more exotic. Which Oloroso Sherry was in these casks, I wonder? Hints of vanilla and some tar. Tiniest hint of sulphur adding to the backbone. Honey and overall quite dusty. Dark, deep and brooding Sherry notes, but not too much. It also has a lively vibrant side to it (as opposed to the Bunnahabhain I just reviewed). Lots of character to this. Appetizing. I need a Pizza after this review! (I did!).

Taste: Big and very creamy. Sweet as well. Toffee, caramel, the lot. The (fruity) sweetness is less pronounced in the evening. Starts with quite a big wonderful spicy woody note and some tree sap. Slightly dry and soapy, with tar and Sherry, but it’s a beautiful woody note. It fits the nose perfectly. Hints of black fruits start to emerge. Well balanced but not as much evolution as one might think after 15 years, not as complex as well. However, what you do get instantly is a very well composed, and utterly delicious Sherried Whisky. Sometimes I pick up some bitterness in the finish, but that is no problem whatsoever. Wonderful expression. Probably best after dinner and a cigar can’t hurt it either.

Trying this one right after the Bunnahabhain, I just reviewed, I have to wonder how stuff like this would be after 30 years of ageing. Nevermind this. Tasting this after the Bunnahabhain is bliss. They differ so much, but go together very well. The Bunnahabhain today is quite pricy at auctions, and If you’re quick, this Glen Garioch seems to be on sale quite a lot, but it will sell out eventually, and then its gone.

Finally, I often give the advice that you should give a Whisky some air and time to breathe. Just pick any Springbank review and it’s there. Surprisingly, that is not the case this time, This Glen Garioch is best right after pouring it, just sayin’.

Points: 88

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Campbeltown Loch 30yo (40%, Springbank Distillery, 09/507)

I get this all the time. “You always write about Single Malt Whisky, as if there is no other Whisky”. Yes, those people might have a point, but I do prefer Single Malt over today’s Blends, but forgetting about blends altogether, would be a mistake. Just have a go with a blend from the olden days to convince yourself. Mind you, most of them still are very inexpensive at auctions, so it doesn’t cost a lot to be adventurous.

Here we have a Blend that was brought to you by the good people of Springbank. Hence the use of the standard Springbank bottle. For now, let’s give this 30yo blend a go, and more about the ingredients of this Blend later…

Campbeltown Loch 30yoColor: Gold.

Nose: Grainy, dull at first, with some paper notes. Cola freshness. The whole is very malty and light, so there probably is a lot of Grain in this Blend. Not a lot of old Whisky aroma is oozing out of my glass. Hints of old Sherried Malt, yeast and cardboard. Next some old wood emerges with dusty and, slightly smoky, notes of very dried out apricots. So slightly fruity and waxy, typical for old Bourbon casked Malt. Oak spice and some woody mint, but not as much as you would expect after 30 years.

Taste: Grainy, Malty and sweet. Very light. Light mocha and milk chocolate notes. Nice cookie dough and waxy depth and although quite thin, it has a bit of chewiness to it. Still, the body remains very light and fragile, grainy and lightly fruity. Towards the end a vegetal and a soury note from the oak leads into the weakish and quite short finish. It comes across as watered down, and hardly seems 40% ABV at all. You know what my next remark would be…

Before we continue, here is what Springbank had to say about this Blend: “Around 45% of the Campbeltown Loch 30yo is made up of the old 25yo, which was allowed to mature on. That 25yo blend was almost 100% malt and contained some 1964 Springbank along with other single malts including 1977 Ardmore, 1977 North Port, 1978 Tomatin, 1977 Imperial, 1976 Glengarioch, 1976 Ardbeg and 1976 Glen Grant. 30yo grain from Girvan was added to that, to complete the new 30yo Campbeltown Loch.“ Well I couldn’t have said that any better myself.

The old 25yo they mention was made from almost 100% Malt Whisky, so it almost was a Blended Malt, or Vatted Malt we used to call it back then. This 30yo however, contains only 40% Malt Whisky, so a lot of that Girvan was added to the old 25yo.

Yes it’s nice, but also very light. This Blend has a lot of fans and why not, just read the list of its contents again. Check out the age again. Personally, I don’t really get a lot of the old malts in this blend and I don’t think the Girvan was matured in very active casks, that mask the old Malts even more. Nevertheless, nice stuff and I won’t have a problem finishing this, but I can’t help but feel this could have been even better by adding less Girvan and bottling fewer bottles, since there weren’t any more old Malts available. I do hope I get to try the old 25yo Blend someday…

Points: 85

Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve (48%, OB)

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…

Points: 83

(When I tasted it right after opening I gave it 76 points, go figure)

Thanks go out to Laura!