Glen Garioch 12 Year: 48% abv
Background: Welcome to KCM Review 214. This review is evidently different, because it is an offsite review of something I found in Montreal, Canada. Subsequently, I have no intentions of bringing the bottle back, so I figured I’d squeeze out a quick review before heading back. You might notice from the picture I’m drinking this out of a tumbler, so the aromas might not be as comprehensive as I’d like, but I’ll make due. Now onto the spirit. This is a Highland Single Malt Scotch, Glen Garioch 12 Year, bottled at an impressive 48%, non chill-filtered, and aged in a mixture of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Glen Garioch only has a few standard offerings, with this being one of them. So is it worth your time, and at such a beefy proof?
Nose: So of course, I’m nosing this out of an improper glass, so bear with me. Despite the tumbler, there is a huge aroma of sherry, barley grain, sweet malt, tons of vanilla, and some caramel as well. The sherry is complimented by a sweet honey flavor, but is contrasted by some slight vegetal and floral flavors as well. There is a prominent oakiness to the whisky which becomes distinguishable as the flavors open up. There is also a bit of apple fruitiness, giving a nice caramel apple smell.
Arrival: The arrival starts off with a blend of nice maltiness, a beautiful caramel apple sweetness, coupled by nice sherry and vanilla sweetness. There is some citrus and pear in the arrival as well, giving a healthy blast of fruit flavors that really drag out the arrival quite intensely. The sherry is light, and is closer to a heather honey flavor than a raison flavor. There is actually a bit of cocoa as well in the arrival, which comes and goes quickly.
Body: The body shows off some powdered malt flavor, with a delicate graininess and the same fruitiness that is found in the arrival. The sherry really comes forward in the body, and there is some nice oak flavor as well.
Finish: The finish leaves you with a nice, crisp apple flavor, followed by long lasting malt and slight citrus overtones. The caramel sticks around quite a bit, but is overshadowed by some very strong vegetal notes. These are similar notes to what we saw in the Founder’s Reserve, but they seem less aggressive in the 12 Year version. Again, like the FR, the 12 Year ends dry and grainy, but has as very prominent aftertaste. There is even a bit of fresh pine in the finish as well.
Nose: With this whisky, don’t be afraid to add a little bit of water. It really can take it, and it doesn’t back down the flavor much at all. The nose is still really beefy (not literally, of course) with a large collage of spices and vegetal flavors up front, backing off from the sweeter notes. There is still a pleasant, almost confectionary type of smell to the whisky, with cookie dough and flour as aroma.
Arrival: The arrival now shows off some brilliant spice notes, with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger all playing into the whisky. The sweetness is still prevalent, complemented by succulent berries and a beautiful array of sweet fruits.
Body: The body retains the graininess from before, but balances it out with a more refreshing, less dry palate. There is also berry sweetness in the body now, with slightly less complexity than before. This is still really pleasant, however.
Finish: The finish is now nicely blended with oak flavors, sweet fruits, vanilla, caramel, and a lasting spiciness that was not present before. The finish has a gentle, subtle linger to it, which coats the mouth and only begs for a second round. Truly, this is a tantalizing Scotch from beginning to end.
Final Comments: Okay, so I like it. Is it because I’m in Montreal? Not likely. Glen Garioch proved to us that they could produce a Scotch which was complex at a young age, and that they didn’t need to follow the regular rules of presentation (40%, 43%, 46%). I like Glen Garioch for their ambition, and their quality of spirit. Does this take a step up from the Founder’s Reserve? Yes, it does. This is a complex, enjoyable, and affordable whisky which should be sold everywhere, so far as I’m concerned. It could be more complex, and it could be more original, but it does so much where it is, and for the price this is a new personal favorite.
Why you’d buy it: You can find it, and you want to support a brilliant distillery by enjoying their brilliant product
Why you wouldn’t: You live in Michigan and can’t find it.