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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Glen Garioch 12 year old, six years later

As of 2012, there was a bar in Hollywood that used to have Yamazaki 18 at the same price as Glenmorangie 10. I drank a lot of Yamazaki 18 there. When they were out of that, I went with Glen Garioch 12, which they had for a great price. Though I was at home when I typed up my review of Glen Garioch 12, I did the actual tasting at the bar.

That was 2012. I haven't tried Glen Garioch 12 since. As was concluded in my review, I enjoyed the whisky. And I was going to buy a bottle. But as I watched its price jump from the high $40s to mid $60s within a year, I lost the motivation.

Garioch 12 is still in the low to mid $30s in Japan. In Europe it's often high $30s ex-VAT. So the price issue appears to be a US importer/distributor issue. Shocking, right?

Price quirks aside, I'm looking forward to trying it again.

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Age: minimum 12 years old
Maturation: bourbon and sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(from a purchased sample)

The nose starts off with barley, green grapes and golden raisins. Then flowers and farm. Raspberry jam and yellow cherries. Almost no oak here. The warm palate leads with chocolate stout, malt and tart lemons. There's a combo of brown sugar, honey and cayenne pepper. A big barley note takes over after 20+ minutes. The very long, warm finish is all tart fruit, honey and barley

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or ⅔ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose is similar but quieter. Malt and farm. No more raspberry jam. Plums rather than cherries. Hints of cinnamon and bananas. More tart fruit, fewer sweets in the palate. Apples and slight floral note. Plenty of maltiness remains. The finish is tinglier and toastier. Honey, barley and aromatic fruit notes.

If you live in a place where Glen Garioch 12 is priced in the $30s, then you're looking at one of the best bargains on Planet Single Malt. I'm not going to use the word terroir because who knows where the barley is coming from, BUT this all gently-aged spirit with excellent texture.

While this isn't the most complex of things, it is a pristine snapshot of nearly oak-free (and smoke-free) malt. After this point only more wood would enter the picture. Dilution is fine, but I think it works best at the generous 48%abv.

I thought I'd have more cynical things to say six years later, but the whisky is solid and I'm feeling almost wistful for official bottlings that aren't soaked in oak juice. There will be a bottle of this in my home in 2019.

Availability - Most specialty liquor retailers in Europe, Japan and USA
Pricing - Europe: $35-$55 (ex-VAT); Japan: $30-$40; USA $55-$75
Rating - 87

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