Thanks to /u/Amesey for these samples.
Was on one of the many whisky related hobby forums that I spend time on, and someone showed a whisky from the past: Glen Garioch 17 1994 Vintage Batch 32. Ex-bourbon, not a single cask, more like a limited vatting or batch, from back in the day.
These are basically all the fun of a single cask, with a vintage and cask strength offering, but all of the blender’s expertise that comes with a standard offering. Like mixing peanut butter and dramatic readings of the Clue movie, they had mixed results.
They asked if they should buy it. I didn’t know, but I had a feeling I had a sample of it. That’s how this review series came to be, as I had a little over an hour before we went to Dr. Strange 2 and what was I gonna do otherwise? Play more vintage SNES games? Probably, so I had a whisky instead.
The main thing to remember with Glen Garioch is, like many distilleries, the source spirit has changed. Nothing official announces the change:: When Suntory bought it out in 1994 the whisky became less peaty. The distillery closed down in 1995 and reopened in 1997. I read another post that until 1995 they made heavily peated whiskies. Not to mention, again, none of this is officially documented (except for closing the distillery), so for all we know these are just whisky reviewer guesses. Some say that they were experimenting prior to that with different levels of peat.
Thus pre-1995 Glen Garioch has more fans, because peat. Not Islay brine peat, but earthy Highland peat. I personally prefer the current whisky, and that makes me ~super wrong~ different from others.
So what did I think of it? And did I find another Glen Garioch to review the next day? Let’s see, shall we?
Cask type: North American Oak Barrels
Number of bottles: 12,000
Colour: 2.5GY 9.6
Nose: Lime, almond flour, cocoa cookie, wildflowers, raisin (after water)
Acidity, sweet nutty/cereal note, and some earthy/sweet elements continue. Water brings on this rich flavour as well. Not as rich as if it was in an ex-Sherry cask, but it’s still quite interesting.
Taste: Ginger, brine, heather, raisin, heavy cream/cream pasta sauce
Some spice, some floral, and a heavy, strong fat/creamy aspect with water. It really, really takes to water well. Initial flavour was just okay, with an earthy/salt note, but damn it’s luxurious when you add water.
And no, just because I’m rushing to watch the equivalent of a popcorn movie did I rush this. I had time to let it open up for 20 minutes, nose it for 20 more, so water is a good idea.
Finish: Plum, caramel, mushroom, butter, ginger powder
The finish has some disjoint moments. If you’ve ever made mushrooms in a pan with butter but left the butter cooking too long and then you just go “it’ll still taste fine” and just use it? That’s this, but someone else thought you were making caramel and added a bunch of sugar.
So no one else did that? Good, it’s sweet and odd at the end.
Conclusion: Earthy, floral, and cereal. Some pops of rich, dried fruit notes in it.
It’s unique. You have to like floral/earth to enjoy it. The rich fruits are a bit out of sorts but not a reason to not buy it.
Super strong nose. Lots of raw notes, but also a big wildflower note.
Heat throughout with ginger in it.
I enjoy this, and would recommend trying it, or buying a bottle if the price is good. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it’s no slouch. The finish is the only part that seems to not totally work, mostly due to the way that the rich notes mix with earth.
Glen Garioch 16 1995 Vintage Batch 10 is a re-review. Years ago I tried a sample handed to me from someone. That was then, now is now. This has been my TED talk on time.
Again, it’s from the Glen Garioch Vintage batch collections, it’s year dated, it’s some of the last of the pre-Suntory Glen Garioch. This was aged in 1st fill Bourbon Barrels, so that’s probably why I tried this one originally and not the one above it.
But have I changed? Let’s see if it’s the children’s fault, shall we?
Cask type: 1st Fill Bourbon Barrels
Number of bottles: 6,000
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Peach, yoghurt raisins, butterscotch, grassy
Stone fruit, some funk/rich notes (like before), some richer caramel, and some grass. Less complex, and way more rich.
Previously I had noticed a lot more smoke, and maybe I’ve had too many Octomores to notice it now.
Taste: Peach, musty, peanut, caramel
Okay, I know where I got the peat from now. This has that dusty part going on, some nuttiness, and some light sweet, and honestly if that doesn’t make a smoke like flavour, then what will? Actual fire?
It’s lightly smoky, mostly the peach and nuttiness takes the main stage.
Finish: Peach, black pepper, cumin, caramel
More earth/heat, some close aspects to peat, and sweet. Not a bad whisky, and it’s nice to have. Water doesn’t really do much other than add some butteriness.
Conclusion: A very rich, interesting whisky that I used to like a lot more than I do now. Don’t know if it’s due to the difference in time the bottle was opened, but I’m finding this less stellar than I did way, way back when I reviewed it the first time. Oh well, still fun to revisit.
If you’re looking for a different mix of light peat and fruit, then this is what you’ll want to have. Very light peat. And earth. Not to mention they made so many of these that they are most likely still out there and cheaper than what’s being released.
Scotch review #1542-1543, Highland review #258-259, Whisky Network review #2263-2264