Glen Garioch 21, 43% – a retry

When I was at the Hielander Whisky Festival in 2015, I tried a Glen Garioch 21 year old as my final dram of the afternoon. At least, I seem to remember it as my final dram.

Anyway, I loved it. It was a thrilling drink and it had the typical combination of highland peat, spices and subtlety. I needed to try it in a more sober state of mind, so I got myself a sample from someone on Facebook.

That was, to say it mildly, not the whisky I remembered (review of that sample here). Was I so far off my marks that I remember a FWP-y dram that fondly? Was I drunk? I needed proof, so I contacted the guys who I got the dram of at the festival and I got myself a new sample at Maltstock.

So, here we go for a retry.

The interesting bit is that they’ve changed the label a couple of times over the years. There also has been a special edition to commemorate the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. The one I tried earlier was bottled about ten years ago. I think the one I’m about to review here is from the same label period, but has been bottled about a decade earlier.

So, from the dreaded eighties distillate (at least in Morrisson-Bowmore whiskies) we move back a decade into the seventies. That should make a huge difference in quality, but ‘should’ never brought us much unless it’s been tried and proven.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

It’s quite pungent and far less gentle than the previous one. Quite smoky and malty. There’s a significant hint of black pepper and oak. Ever so slightly floral, but without any of the FWP stuff from the eighties. Old oak, some spices and wax. Rich and complex.

The palate is somewhat lighter than I expected, but the age shows nicely. Oak and pepper. A light smokiness with some bitter spices and a bit of sweet, dry malt.

The finish is more floral than before, but also shows more malt and straw. Quite rich and long, with hints of oak, malt, and beeswax.

Well, this is in an entirely different league. The previous one was quite hideous, in my opinion. This one isn’t. It’s also not as epic as I seemed to remember it, although if I would have gotten this in an auction I’d be quite satisfied.

The balance is pretty great and luckily they didn’t get that FWP infection here. So no cheap perfumy hints that remind you of fabric softener here! The other flavors might be similar, although I think the smoke, oak and malt work better in this one than in the more recent bottling.

Recommended if you can get a sample, and I might be looking for it in an auction. If I ever get it, I’ll share it 😉


Glen Garioch 21, 43%, bottled in the late nineties.


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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