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Glen Garioch 12 Year Old Single Malt

Review: Glen Garioch 12 Year Old Single Malt  88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on November 27, 2011

The Glen Garioch Distillery (pronounced ‘Glen Geery’) is located in the town of Oldmeldrum, approximately 20 minutes from Aberdeen. It is the Eastern-most distillery in Scotland, in the Valley of Garioch, which is apparently one of the best barley growing regions of Scotland. The distillery was established in 1797.

The Glen Garioch 12 Year Old is a Highland malt which has been blended from stocks of two types of oak cask groups. Spanish Sherry casks are utilized to provide a strong depth of flavour, and American Bourbon casks are used to soften the finished malt. I recently received a sample bottle of the Glen Garioch 12 Year Old from Shiralli Agencies who are the local importers and distributors of Morrison Bowmore Products. (The Glen Garioch Distillery and its brands are owned by Morrison Bowmore.)

In the Bottle: 4.5/5

The Glen Garioch 12 presentation is quite acceptable (To the left is a nice bottle shot (J peg) of the 750 ml bottle presentation). As you can see the bottle is in the typical style of a bar room whisky. It is designed to be easy to hold, easy to pour, and of course easy to store on the bar shelf. The bottle and label are simple but professional. I am pleased that the closure is a high density cork topper which seals the whisky, and gives me that nice satisfying  ‘pop’ when I first open the bottle.

Given the wide range of styles of Scottish Single Malts, I also like that the display box contains tasting notes which allows the consumer some insight into the Single Malt Whisky flavour profile prior to purchase.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The whisky in the glass shows itself as a nice golden amber liquid. When I tilted my glass and gave it a slow swirl I noticed the whisky imparted long slender legs which ran slowly back into whisky. The initial nose from the glass is full of oak spice and honey with some floral (and herbal) tones which lurk in the breezes.

If I close my eyes and sniff the breezes above the glass I can imagine I am in a meadow with bits of heather and sweet-grass growing amongst the other grasses. Clumps of willow lie at the edges of the meadow, and over the nearby hill a few pine trees are sending faint scents into those breezes. I am enjoying the aroma from the glass; although it is sweet and spicy, it is also laid back and relaxing.

In the Mouth  53/60

The Glen Garioch enters the mouth with a combination of oak spiciness, butterscotch toffee, and a complex floral nature full of heather, grassy herbs and wildflowers. I taste impressions of lemon and vanilla, as well as a light marzipan weaving through these currents of flavour. If you let the glass breath for a few minutes, a certain maltiness becomes apparent and the spicy oakiness grows in the glass. I like what I am tasting, and each time I return to the Glen Garioch, I seem to find more nuances to enjoy. There is more complexity in this malt than is apparent at first blush.

In the Throat 13/15

The Glen Garioch 12 has a finish full of light flavourful spice. There is also a nice dab of butterscotch sweetness and a touch of heather. These nuance seem to compliment the ‘highland spice’ making the whisky easy to sip and easy to enjoy.

The Afterburn 9/10

I like the Glen Garioch 12 Year Single Malt Whisky. It is one of those whiskies which I found I relished a little more each time I sampled it. In fact, I found myself wanting to return to it regularly after my initial series of tastings. The malt is very approachable, yet it carries a certain delicate complexity forward into the glass. It reflects a laid back Highland style which I quite enjoy.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe

In most of my tasting sessions I enjoyed the Glen Garioch 12 Year Old neat or with just one cube of ice in a rocks glass. (And I suggest you enjoy it that way as well.) However, being particularly thirsty one evening, I decided to enjoy a tall drink in my hot tub while watching the snow come down around me during our first big snowfall of the season. I made a relatively simple bar drink mixing the Glen Garioch with Ginger-ale; but it was so good that I decided to make it my suggested recipe for this whisky.

Highland Malt and Ginger

2 oz Glen Garioch 12 Years Old
Orange Slices
Cracked Ice
Ginger Ale

Fill a Highball Glass with Cracked Ice and one Orange Slice
Add Glen Garioch 12 Year Old Whisky
Fill with Ginger-ale
Garnish with the second Orange slice

Enjoy Responsibly!


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

2 Responses to “Glen Garioch 12 Year Old Single Malt”

  1. Mike said

    This is an interesting whisky. I got a lot of herbal notes from it, as well as a ton of raisin flavour. Overall I found it a little strange, to be honest. Pretty decent, though.

    • Thanks Mike:

      We both noticed the herbal notes here. They kind of reminded me a bit of the Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka Flavour, which is why I made the reference to sweet-grass in they review. The Raisins you are getting are undoubtedly from the Sherry casks. I didn’t really mention the sherry tones in my review which was an over site on my part. I am glad you mentioned it.

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