...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Glen Garioch 15 year old The Renaissance versus Glen Garioch 15 old label

This wasn't intended to be a Taste Off. I was going to taste the official 12yo and the 15yo Renaissance in the same sitting, which I did, but then I added the old 15 as an aperitif.

When single malt insanity began in my home (and worldwide), eleven years ago, the olde Glen Garioch 15 was one of my preferred drinks. It then disappeared within a couple of years as the brand was reworked. When I picked up a sample of the whisky four years ago, I was looking forward to reviewing the once reliable whisky, but then The Whisky Jug reviewed a sample from the same bottle and gave it a 57.

That gave me pause.

Years of pause.

When I added it to this weekend's tasting, it was as a lark. I wanted to rid myself of the sample. But the whisky wasn't terrible. So...

Glen Garioch 15 old label versus Glen Garioch 15 year old The Renaissance

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Age: minimum 15 years old
Maturation: probably just bourbon casks
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Bottled: 2007 or earlier
(from a purchased sample)


Distillery: Glen Garioch
Ownership: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Age: minimum 15 years old
Maturation: bourbon and sherry casks
Alcohol by Volume: 51.9%
Bottled: 2014
Outturn: 12,000 bottles
(from a purchased sample)

Glen Garioch 15 old label (neat only)
Nose -  Apples, dark chocolate and burnt barley start matters off. Then there be lemons, grass, cucumber skins and fresh shredded red cabbage.
Palate - Warm and sweet. Vanilla, barley and confectioner's sugar. Hints of herbal bitterness. Little smoke, if any. It does pick up some sourness and cardboard with time. A brief whiff of perfume.
Finish - Mostly sweet and tart citrus. It gets sourer here as well, but not off-putting.

Glen Garioch 15 year old The Renaissance (neat)
Nose - Flowers, orange marmalade and pineapple. Peach macarons? Hints of butter and lawn.
Palate - It has two gears! First gear: Warm, not hot. Lots of toasted oak spice. Fresh stone fruits, as opposed to the dried ones. Second gear: Tart limes, ginger candy and a little bit of salt.
Finish - Slightly more toasted oak and tannins here, then tart fruit and chocolate malt.

Glen Garioch 15 year old The Renaissance (diluted to 48%abv)
Nose - The same pretty flowers and fruit, but at a lower pitch. Chocolate, dried oregano and barley.
Palate - Bitter chocolate with a dash of cayenne. Salt water and bigger tannins. Somehow younger, hotter and more aggressive.
Finish - Warm, but simple and tannic. A sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.


The old Glen Garioch 15yo is neither gross nor the solid reliable thing I used to enjoy. BUT. And there's always a but. I have no idea when this thing was bottled. AND. I have my own full bottle waiting in the cabinet, so I will return to this whisky. In the meantime, this bottling certainly showed signs of being a sturdy middle-of-the-road malt. Plenty of barley, low oak levels, some fruits. The key is to drink it within 15 minutes because the metaphorical roof starts to metaphorically slouch at that point.

The first chapter of modern Glen Garioch's The Renaissance shows well when neat. Good nose, good palate. Much brighter than the old 15. It also has significantly more cask influence than the current 12 year old. In fact, the staves come out swinging once water is added to the broth. (The hell is that sentence?) It's not winey, nor bourbony, mind you. It's just that the drinker feels the weight of the tannins pushing in. So keep it neat.

Still, I know which one I like best:

see that one's review here
Glen Garioch 15 old label
Rating - 79 (but don't tarry!)

Glen Garioch 15 year old The Renaissance
Rating - 85 (keep it neat)

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