...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Glen Garioch 18 year old 2003 SMWS for Highland Whisky Festival 2022

I ended March with a quartet of Benrinnes releases that were all distilled on the same day. How about I one-up (or rather three-up) that by closing out April with seven Glen Garioch whiskies all distilled on the same day, and released by the same company?

That was a rhetorical question because I'm going to do it anyway.

Dozens of Glen Garioch casks containing whisky distilled on the 17th of February 2003, were likely purchased by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in one large parcel, once upon a time. I was able to source seven of these whiskies thanks to a paid online tasting opportunity last month. The virtual event was co-hosted by SMWS Ambassador, Alan Wood, but I went sober for it because my daughters were staying with me.

The first of these whiskies is the rare SMWS whisky without a special cask coding (but with a fanciful name) because it was a multi-cask release for 2022's Highland Whisky Festival:

pic pilfered from Whiskybase

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 18 years (17 February 2003 - 2022?)
Maturation: 5 or 6 first-fill bourbon barrels
Cask #: "Hazelnut Bubble Gum"
Outturn: 1128 bottles
Exclusive to: Highland Whisky Festival 2022
Alcohol by Volume: 55.6%
(from a paid event)


A bright spring note, like a field of wildflowers, hits the nose first, followed by toasted cashews, fresh apples, dried apricots, and fresh cream. Barley and yeast linger in the back. The palate, "lovely" per my notes, is a swirl of barley, lemons, grapefruits, blossoms, and just a hint of sweetness. The grapefruits gain ground with time. It finishes with tart apples, orange gummies, and a whiff of smoke.

DILUTED to 46%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose focuses on lime zest, orange peels, and green apple peels. Tart limes and tart apples balance gorgeously with sweet oranges, malt, and the hint of soil in the palate. It concludes with orange blossoms, lime juice, and barley.


Though I've likely used the word "rustic" to describe Glen Garioch before, I'm going to do so again. Can such a rustic jewel come from a single cask, or does it require the sort of balance that comes from a tiny batch of barrels? The laziest batch of barrels, may I add gratefully. It's the sort of whisky one could spoil with attention all spring and summer...which would probably require multiple bottles.

Is this the prize-winner of the group, or is it a sign of things to come? I dearly hope it's the latter.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90