There’s Glen Garioch from before and from after. This is most definitively Glen Garioch from before.
I am of course talking about the change in production regime that took place in the mid-90s. That’s when Glen Garioch switched from making a peated to a non-peated malt whisky. If you’re familiar with both styles of Glen Garioch, you know that decision was a mistake.
It’s no coincidence that the change came right after Suntory acquired Glen Garioch in 1994, together with Bowmore and Auchentoshan. One distillery producing peated malt was deemed sufficient by the new Japanese owners. Glen Garioch was therefore closed. Luckily it reopened a few years later, but peated Glen Garioch became history.
Thank god there’s still casks of distillate from before that fateful decision. One such example is the whisky I’m reviewing today, a glorious 27-year-old Glen Garioch from Càrn Mòr.
Glen Garioch 1991 27 Years Old (51%, Càrn Mòr, C#20392)
Nose: Sweeter notes of fudge, custard and honey, but also moss, bung cloth and a whisper of smoke. A touch of peach maybe, as well as prunes and dates. Give it a little while and it becomes incredibly farm-y with a whiff of menthol. Very well balanced and lovely complexity.
Taste: Proper oily mouthfeel with a touch of peat, but also a great tropical fruitiness that reminds me of some of the great modern Bowmore single casks from the early 2000s. That doesn’t feel like a coincidence. Pink grapefruit, a touch of mango. Subtle spices. Great, great stuff.
Finish: Lingering smoke and soft spices.
Proper high-class Glen Garioch from a bygone era. The date that someone over at Suntory decided to eliminate peat from the Glen Garioch production process, should be made an official day of mourning.
Photo: The Whisky Exchange