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Thursday, May 4, 2023

Glen Garioch 18 year old 2003 SMWS 19.73

The 17/2/2003 SMWS Glen Gariochs keep going and keep shining! Clearly the stills were rocking that day, but where were these first-fill barrels from? With Beam Suntory in charge of the distillery, the barrels could have previously held Knob Creek, Booker's, Baker's, Basil Hayden, Makers, or regular ol' Beam. No matter what, I'm already much more interested in teenage bourbon barrel Glen Gariochs than I was before.

Today's single barrel has a strength and outturn similar to Tuesday's, so I tried them side-by-side. How identical were the whisky results?

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 18 years (17 February 2003 - 2021?)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 19.73, "A silky-smooth melody"
Outturn: 222 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.7%
(from a paid event)


"Fermenty/Fruity" reads my first nose note. Pineapple, mango, orange juice, and cloves on top. Sugar cookies fill the middle (do they not?), and a yeasty, bready character arrives later in the background. The palate nearly matches the nose at first with yeast, citrus, and sugar cookies. It progresses towards tart and malt with time. It finishes sweet, tart, and malty, with a minty curlicue in the back.

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky

It's as if the yeast has something else to say once the whisky is reduced. The nose is funkier now, with less fruit and more flowers, as well as industrial and aged cheese notes ascending from below. The palate reads more complex than the nose, with a balance of tart + sweet + bitter + salt, and plenty of citrus. Oranges, lemons, and a little bit of herbal bitterness finish it off.


Though spirit-forward like the others, this cask went its own path. It's the least "silky-smooth" one so far, plenty fruity, slightly hot, and a bit weird at times. This '03 Glen Garioch is the least complete of the first four, seeming like it could have used another 5-10 years in the warehouse to finish its journey toward becoming something remarkable. But I still adore its style, and would be happy to own a bottle.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87