Highland fling thing
I’ve never had anything from the boys at Glen Garioch, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen very much written about them over the years. Like many distilleries they just aren’t sexy enough or, more likely just don’t have the marketing shekels the big boys have to keep them in the spotlight. It’s no bad thing though, you end up spending more for the actual whisky than the advertising. Off to the highlands we go.
From the get good I’m intrigued. I picked it up for about £30 and it almost doesn’t compute. Non chill filtered, sherry and bourbon casks and weighing in at a brawny 48%. This really does appear to be staggeringly good value on the surface. Is it coloured? Don’t know. Don’t care at this price and ABV. And it’s a highland. I love me a highland - to the glass, and quick!!
On the nose, well first to the eye, it’s a good brassy colour. It’s looks the part. On the nose and it’s a beast. There a lot of smells clamouring to get out of the glass. Way more that I would have expected for a NAS scotch. There’s giant dollops of barley sugars sweets, malt, malt and more malt, and a sourness and honey laced porridge. Weirdly I’m getting flashbacks of Cherry Tunes. You know the smell, fruity, sour, sweet and menthol all in one. This mish-mash of bourbon and sherry and red liquorice and wood is good. Getting the nose deep in the glass and there’s more liquorice and dried fruits. It’s like Ardmore and Deanston had a one night stand watched on from the sidelines by a curios bottle of sherry. Filthy buggers. I like it. It’s a little hot to be sure, a bit gingery sweet and sour and the alcohol is clearly there but it’s not unwelcome. Good, good, good.
In the mouth. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what this cheap bottle is all about.
BOOOOOOM! Well, that wasn’t subtle. Everything happens very quickly. It’s a little explosive and then the explosion gets hotter. Slowing it all down and here’s what I’m getting. First it’s cool and sweet and then the sweetness builds quickly, really quickly. Tonnes of barley sugars and crystallised ginger and bourbon and vanilla landslide across the palate like a sweet shop exploding followed with heat like a confectionary fireball. Peppery, oak, more bourbon sweetness, hot sawn wood. Nice oak going on. It’s goes on with heat and ginger and peppery almost rye like prickles. I’m 2 fair sized drams in and it still feels like a firework going off in my mouth. Holding a sip in and the intensity of the flavours is huge on the palate, richness and heat and spruce and sweetness. It’s hot to be sure but it’s also packed with flavours. Nom nom nom.
Sniffing the empty glass and there’s a wee bit of sulphur, memories of sherry, a little sourness. I like it.
So how do you rate something like this? If it was from a bigger name it would have a legion of followers saying how good it was. If it had and age statement and was a tad more rounded it would be truly amazing. It’s rough and ready in the same way an over enthusiastic dog can be. With training it would easier to handle - less leaping all over the place but it’s ok that’s it’s a little bit, er feral.
I’m actually impressed. This is never going to win any beauty pageants, it’s as unfashionable as you can get in the current climate of special cask finishes and exorbitant priced special editions, AI designed bottles that have been to space. This is workaday scotch and it’s better for it. Like a few other distilleries making scotch to really drink it will be overlooked, under appreciated and for those that like to drink decent scotch, thankfully underpriced. Long may it continue.
Ps. Right at the end as it’s wandering away I get old coffee grounds. Nice.