It’s fair to say I’m not a fan of virgin oak. There are a few exceptions, but overall I find it too much of a risk. Chances are you’ll be chewing on wood chips instead drinking delicious malt whisky. Some fairly recent examples are a distillery exclusive from Bimber and the Balvenie 12 Years ‘Sweet Toast of Oak’.
Enter the Glen Garioch Virgin Oak No. 2. I’m not sure how old exactly this Glen Garioch is (why not just share this type of information?), but considering this is fully matured and the two aforementioned are either finished (Balvenie) or barely 3 years old (Bimber), it is safe to say the Glen Garioch has spent a much longer time in new oak casks—white American oak to be exact.
Glen Garioch Virgin Oak No. 2 (48%, OB, 2019)
Nose: A whiff of melted butter, but also notes of toffee and vanilla. Slightly resinous too and just a touch of star anise and cardamom. Finally a tinge of red apple. Taste: Quite spicy and full-bodied with a quick hit of fudge and caramel. Slightly honey-ed, lots of cracked black peppercorns, and somewhat bitter. Finish: Medium in length with a whiff of eucalyptus and tobacco. The resin makes an encore as well. Finally settling on notes of red apple.
Flavourful and impactful, this is a virgin oak single malt I can get behind. It’ll never become my favourite style, but at least this offers a semblance of balance and deliciousness.