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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Glen Garioch 19 year old 2003 SMWS 19.88

With two more sibling barrels appearing in 2023, any remaining maturing members of this parcel are now 20 years old. Whether that's good or bad depends on cask management and personal palate preferences. It would be interesting to see what a less-active cask would be like at 30 years; but oak is all the rage now, so perhaps I found the best stuff when it was 18 years of age. The 14yo-18yo range is often my favorite for single malts, though sometimes old magical casks produce beautiful things.

Anyway, this Glen Garioch 2003 is only 19 years old, so I'll just get to the drinkin'.

Distillery: Glen Garioch
Owner: Beam Suntory
Region: Eastern Highlands
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 19 years (17 February 2003 - 2022)
Maturation: first-fill bourbon barrel
Cask #: 19.88, "Chewing gum in a bakery"
Outturn: 169 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 53.3%
(from a paid event)


The nose has character aplenty. A dessert layer sits on top, offering cinnamon, dates, orange peel, and caramel chews. Dusty stones and wet dog fur rest beneath. Then calvados and mint leaf materialize 30+ minutes later. Much simpler, the palate shows apples, pears, oranges, and cinnamon, with notes of herbal bitterness and salt in the background. It finishes with apples, toasted oak, and pickled ginger,

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

I'm getting a spiced calvados in the nose, with lots of cardamom pods, cinnamon, and honey. It's quite floral too. The sticky sweet palate has candied lemon peels and mint leaves floating in vanilla simple syrup. It finishes the same way with maybe a hint of grapefruit.


The crazy sibling, perhaps? There always has to be one. Its outturn was a bit low too, so maybe there was something physically different with this barrel. Your guess is as good as (and likely better) than mine.

I'll focus on the whisky when it's in full power mode because the less said about the diluted version the better. Calvados + dates + quirks = winning nose. It was a different whisky in the mouth, reading like an everyday drinker with a slight bite. Not bad, but a definite half-step down from the 19.84 with which it sparred. And no, I don't think another decade in oak would have improved this one.

Availability - 
UK only? Sold out, though

Pricing - it was £125
Rating - 84 (neat only)

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