Each quarter, Just A Taste releases a special Scotch whisky selection for their Dram Club. In the past, we have journeyed to Islay, with the Kilchoman Macchir Bay, and Speyside, with both Aberlour A’Bunadh and Mortlach, but now we venture into the Highlands. Glen Garioch (pronounced “gee-ry”) was founded in 1797, and is one of, if not, the oldest officially licensed distilleries in Scotland.
Glen Garioch, located in Oldmeldrum, a village in the Aberdeenshire, was founded by the Manson brothers. John Manson and his brother were local farmers, which is unsurprising, as the valley of Garioch was renowned for its barley production. Nearly 90 years later, the Manson family sold Glen Garioch to JG Thomas and Co., and later to William Sanderson, the founder of Vat 69, a famous blended scotch whiskey in Europe.
Over the years, Glen Garioch traded hands many times. William Sanderson’s grandson Kenneth fell on hard times during the Great Depression and sold his company in 1933, just 8 months before the repeal of Prohibition. In 1970, Stanley Morrison, the owner of Bowmore Distillery, purchased Glen Garioch and gave it new life.
In 1995, the distillery was temporarily closed. Two years later, in 1997, Glen Garioch reopened with a new taste. Today, the whiskey has been rebranded and consists of a more unpeated character, but there are still some pre-1995 bottles, including this month’s Dram Club selection, the Glen Garioch 1995, the last production before the distillery closed.
At full strength, the Highland character shines through: honey, melon, apricots and other tropical fruits pour from the glass mixed with lemon oil and butterfat. The attack is searing while still at cask strength, but strong notes of hazelnut and baking spices are present. Once diluted to a more palatable level, chocolate and caramel notes are revealed. The lemon and honey melt into banana toffee and tobacco.