Review – The Glen Garioch 12 and a bonus 1978 Single Cask.

It took a trip to Glen Garioch distillery last year (of which you can read about here) to remind me that I’d never really looked at (or reviewed) any of their expressions. When I first started my whisky journey I do remember trying a Glen Garioch Founders Reserve which, to be fair, hasn’t exactly lingered long in the memory.

During the trip I worked my way through the majority of the Glen Garioch core range but today we will focus on their standard 12 year old and a 1978 Single Cask release.

Until its closure in 1995 Glen Garioch used a peated malt (Between 8 – 15ppm according to the sparse information available) using locally sourced peat and indeed had its own matings next door to the distillery. I thought it would be interesting to feature a peated and unpeated expression – granted however it is not exactly a direct comparison as the whiskies are decades apart. Not just in terms of time, but in terms of industry practices, distillation methods, technology etc.

Interesting nonetheless to compare two differing eras in Glen Garioch history.

Glen Garioch 12yo, OB, 48% abv, from my collection, avaliable here.


The 12 year old expression, in line with many of the core range, is bottled at 48% abv, is non chill filtered and its fair to say that there is a high probability that it has had colouring added. It has been matured in a mixture of Bourbon and Sherry casks.

Initially it is fruity and fresh on the nose. There are peaches and pears in syrup mixed with apricots, a mild malty and biscuity undertone and a few distant fresh baked breakfast pastries. Eventually we get a little touch of wood with a smear of furniture polish thereon.

The palate isn’t massively complex but the fruity feeling continues with tangy pineapple, more wood, a few red berries amidst a slight vanilla and raisin backdrop. Hints of winter spices come and go but always remain fleeting.

The finish is a mixture of oak, coffee beans and a sprinkle of pepper.

Sitting at around the £40 mark there is a decent dram in that bottle, nothing earth shattering or massively characterful but solid all the same.

A tip of the cap to Glen Garioch for matching the abv to the distillate characteristics rather than opting just to go with a more average 40% abv.

Let’s rewind 40 years…

Glen Garioch 1978 single cask, OB, 51%abv, press sample, available here.

This expression was matured in a refill Bourbon barrel (cask number 11002) It was distilled in November 1978 and was bottled at an abv of 55.1%.

This distillery exclusive will set you back £750.

The nose is much more restrained than the modern 12 year old, there is a need to delve my nose deeper into the glass to find more. I’m met with a gentle wood, mixed with toasted oats and honey. There are a few faint bananas, a touch of pine resin and a very faint but perceptible sweet toffee sauce. A faint whisper of scorched heather, a few green fruits and the aromas of old wooden spoons linger.

The palate is much more vibrant than the nose suggests, a slight imbalance. The palate is drying in nature, the Highland peat providing a gentle warmth. There are touches of pear drops, chocolate and spices here. The faint honey of the nose disappears, leaving red apples and faint coffee somewhere underneath.

The finish fades to unlit cigars, cinnamon and nutmeg with touches of distant charred wood, polished oak and chunks of dark chocolate.

A balancing act of peat, wood and distillate. The time in cask has certainly kept the peat in check, the influence of the refill cask does not overly dominate the proceedings but I’d imagine it is a touch on the woody side for many.

2 drams, 2 styles and 4 decades apart – an interesting comparison.


You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.

Like to recieve monthly updates? Why not join my mailing list?

Want to comment on my article? Feel free to Contact Me.

Be Drink Aware – Please Drink Responsibly




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s