Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New releases - Glen Garioch 1986 Vintage

This new whisky was released just before Christmas and is the fifth expression in Glen Garioch's Vintage range to date. It joins the other four Vintages, which were distilled in 1978, 1990, 1991 and 1994.  Each Vintage is made from premium casks which are specially selected.  This new release was distilled in 1986 and bottled in mid-2011 at 25 years of age.  There are just 3,000 bottles available and these are currently in specialist whisky and liquor retailers in certain markets around the world - Canada, France, Holland, the UK and the USA.  The 1986 Vintage has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 54.6% ABV and has a recommended price of £125.

Glen Garioch (pronounced glen-geery) was founded in 1797 by Thomas Simpson, making it one of Scotland's oldest whisky distilleries that is still in operation. The original name was Glengarioch (the 'garioch' is a fertile strip of local farmland that has historically produced top quality barley) before changing to Glen Garioch in the 1930s. It is located in Oldmeldrum, a small town in the east Highlands, which is close to Aberdeen. The distillery is Scotland's most easterly and has an annual production capacity of one million litres. Glen Garioch is currently owned by Morrison Bowmore, which is a subsidiary of the Japanese drinks company Suntory. They took control in 1994, temporarily closing the distillery one year later, before reopening it in 1997.  Previous to the closure, the distillery had produced a mildly peaty whisky but this practice was stopped upon it re-opening.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright golden yellow and the nose is expressive, fragrant and fresh.  The combination of strongly scented aromas is lovely.  There are initial notes of fudge, vanilla, white chocolate, peach and malted cereals.  Underneath, some honey starts to come through, as does some cinnamon spice and a whiff of peat smoke.  There is also a distinct aroma of palma violet sweets. 

On the palate, the vibrancy continues and this is helped by the high ABV level.  Initial sweet honey and vanilla notes give way to some brown sugar, fudge, white chocolate on the sweeter side.  This is tempered by some robust wood spice (think of oak, cinnamon and nutmeg), bittersweet malty barley, toasted nuts and some background earthy smoke, which is reminiscent of tobacco leaves.  The fresh palma violet sweets and a twist of lemon zest finish things off.  The depth, complexity and freshness of this whisky is very interesting.

A little dash of water cools things down - it becomes more creamy, grainy and soft, with the wood spice and zestiness getting a little lost.  It is still very pleasant though.  The finish is a little feisty with plenty of dryness from the wood spices balancing the sweetness of the vanilla, honey and increasingly prominent smoke.

What's the verdict?
This is a very interesting and slightly unusual whisky and one which we have not tasted the likes of for a while.  It is packed with delicious aromas and flavours that combine wonderfully.  The element of the palma violet sweets is the most unusual of its characteristics, and this combining with the sugary sweet notes creates a diverse palate. This will lead it to possibly being a little challenging for beginners.  However, some connoisseurs will also find it challenging.  With only 3,000 bottles and at a decent price, it is worth a stab if you want something a little different or with a twist of creativity ...

No comments: