Glen Garioch


Glen Garioch is a Highland distillery situated in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire and was founded in 1797 by John & Alexander Manson.

John Manson died in 1838, but a year before that, in 1837 his son (also named) John Manson joined the business and took it over, expanding to include a snuff mill and local farms.

The distillery remained in the John Manson & Co. family business until 1884 when JF. Thomson & Co., a wine & spirit merchant from Leith bought it. William Sanderson, Managing Director of North British distillery joined them 2 years later.


William Sanderson launched VAT69 blended whisky in 1882 of which Glen Garioch was a fundamental component. William died in 1908 and was succeeded by his son William Mark, a partner since 1892.

In 1922 William Mark bought the remaining shares of the company, taking over completely. Unfortuantely he died in 1929 and the business was sold to Booth's (Gin) in 1933 who joined DCL in 1937.

In 1968 Glen Garioch was mothballed but Stanley P. Morrison took it over two years later extending and refurbishing the distillery through the early 1970's.

Morrison Bowmore was taken over by Suntory (the current owners) in 1994.


My thanks to Alan Jamieson for permission to copy & use the distillery photos

More great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness



  Current OB

General whisky characteristics: Floral with toffee. 1980's more complex and perfumed.


Glen Garioch, Founder's Reserve, 48% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics Advent-urous live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Rich dark golden colour, perhaps touching on amber.

Nose: Initially malt, followed by hazelnuts and then light vanilla with a touch of wood. In fact I am suddenly reminded of an ice cream or iced lolly (as we call them in the UK) on a stick after the ice cream or iced fruit has been eaten, leaving slightly fruity vanilla mingled with the wood.

Palate: This begins with biscuit and creamy toffee then after a while expands into a musty leafiness alongside slightly toasted butterscotch and then a hint of raspberry leading into the finish. During this experience the tingle or slight pepperiness focuses right on the very front of the palate.

Finish: Really quite long.

Overall Impression: I thoroughly enjoyed the nose which promised much for the palate, but unfortunately, although many flavours were present, they seemed to be struggling against each other for prominence and were certainly not singing in harmony from the same song sheet. Perhaps this is a local choir on the street corner, but each singing a slightly different Christmas Carol?



Glen Garioch, 1994, 53.9% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€

Dram-atics live review


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light straw

Nose: A little disappointingly weak with hints of fruit followed by vanilla and eventually, after some minutes, just the slightest hint of smoke in the background. The fruit is reminiscent of apple, peach and pear, but it really is quite subdued.

Palate: Definitely more forthcoming with an immediate and intense burst of vanilla which is accompanied shortly afterwards by coconut and banana. More fruit follows with apricot, peach and even papaya, but is that a hint of ginger too? Certainly something like that adds a little tingle leading into the finish. I'm looking for the smoke, but no, it really isn't apparent on the palate at this stage.

With 5 drops of water: The nose is now a little more pronounced with a selection of summer berries and even a little more of that smokiness. The ginger is now more prominent on the palate along with more vanilla and even a hint of liquorice giving a deeper, richer flavour.

A further 4 drops of water add some slightly scorched wood to the nose and the smokiness is akin to a fine (Black Forest) smoked ham. This addition of water has seemingly removed the ginger from the palate, replacing it with some very creamy fruit.

Go on, let's add a further 5 drops of water: The nose is now one of slightly charred wood with hints of banana stem and peach, whereas the palate is even more creamy with peach and light vanilla (sauce).

Finish: Long with hints of ginger, then even longer with water.

Overall Impression: I'm not too sure about that smoke or peat which is supposed to be present. There is at times a hint of smokiness in the nose, but not really enough to call this in any way a peaty whisky. As an aside I sometimes carry out what I call an 'overnight empty glass test' which means leaving my empty and unwashed glass on my desk until the following morning. I did this here and was greeted the next day with wonderful aromas of smoked ham from my empty glass, so there must be some peat smoke present. Anyway, let's talk about what this offers rather than what it doesn't; This is a truly excellent fruit bomb. A positive explosion of summer fruits and berries on the palate which are intensified further by the addition of some drops of water. The peach, apricot, banana and papaya make for a delightful palate, it's just a shame the nose is quite subdued and doesn't prepare us for what is to come.



Glen Garioch, 1971-2011, 40y, 43.9% ABV

Single Cask No.2038 for TWE, one of 194 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Bright gold

Nose: Very aromatic floral malt, candy floss and fruity herbal wood. This is followed by an impression of slightly scorched wood in a sauna with a nearby swimming pool. Lots of light butterscotch too. There's really lots happening in this nose!

Palate: Very creamy mouth-feel and really very floral. Then comes freshly baked bread with vanilla seeds, summer berries and a hint of aniseed. Always light and fresh.

Finish: Long and light, slightly dry.

Overall Impression: A truly wonderful nose followed by a very good palate. I love the lightness and fruitiness. Who would have guessed this could be 40y? Excellent!





Older Releases


Glen Garioch, 8y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Nose: Initially this reminds me of a good, mature creamy cheese in a very gentle way.

Palate: Just a wee hint of that cheese returns in the aftertaste, but this is really a jolly good and smooth whisky, albeit quite young. There are also some hints of creamy toffee and butterscotch.

Overall Impression: Not a powerful whisky, but very pleasant, very smooth and very drinkable. Pour me another please!



Glen Garioch, 10y, 40% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


I do like all of my GG experiences so far, therefore I am looking forward to this 10y.

Nose: Amazingly, the initial nosing produced a slightly burned toast effect, but after a few minutes this disappeared to leave a more 'normal' one of sultanas and raisins, a little fresh oak and maybe even a hint of faint raspberry.

Palate: Creamy smooth with a slightly dry aftertaste, or should this be after-sensation? There are definitely some dark fruits in there, but also cream, toffee, perhaps a touch of banana and yes, something very faint in the background which could be raspberry.

Overall Impression: I do like the 8y and 15y GG and can never decide which one I prefer as it depends upon my mood and feeling at the time. This 10y now complicates things further as it is just as good, but slightly different to the other two. This element of a hint of raspberry is quite new to me in a GG and I have to say, I like it! I am also enjoying this so much that I won't be trying it with water today.



Glen Garioch, 15y, 43% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Nose: Smooth, rounded liquorice and treacle toffee.

Palate: Delightfully smooth and creamy building into a slightly spicy butterscotch which caresses the whole tongue with a long and lingering tingle.

Overall Impression: It is interesting to experience the effect of age on these three Glen Gariochs. This 15 year old is definitely much more mature and full-bodied on the palate and offers a great taste experience.



Glen Garioch, 8y, 43% ABV

older 1980's bottling with cream label and brown tube

Typical cost of this bottle; Now €€€€€


Nose: Hay, grass and perfumed malt

Palate: Smooth and warming with slightly perfumed, flowery toffee which is very short on the first sip, but stays much longer on the second.

Overall Impression: I really like the modern Glen Gariochs with their full-on toffee flavours but this one is much more subtle, encompassing some delightful soft touches of perfume and flowers over the slight toffee flavours which remain in the background.

This is a delightful dram and I am so sorry that they don’t make it like this any more!

Whisky & Chocolate: The Honey & Thyme praline by Franz was an astonishing partner to this lovely old Glen Garioch as the honey worked wonders on the palate with the Thyme enhancing trhe aftertaste.



Summary of a Head to Head of these four OB Glen Gariochs:


The standard 8y from today is a good whisky and perfect as an aperitif or ‘anytime’ dram, whereas the 15y is much more full-bodied and would be more suitable as an after-dinner one. The 10y definitely lies between these two as it hints at dark fruits and strong flavours, without being overpowering or heavy. Those very slight suggestions of raspberry made this a quite different whisky and I have to say I liked it very much. However, none of these three modern-day versions come anywhere close to the standard 8y bottling from the 1980’s. This is just so different and totally delightful with its light floral and perfumed undertones merging excellently with the slight toffee flavours.

This has to be the favourite for me, but if we exclude this one and concentrate solely on today’s offerings, then it is very close between the 10y & 15y with the 15y possibly just coming out on top thanks to the fuller flavours.



  Independent Bottlers (IB)      
  A trio of McClellands:    

1. McClellands, Glen Garioch, distilled 1975, bottled 1990, 56% ABV casks 545 & 458, bottled for Scotch Single Malt Circle

2. McClellands, Glen Garioch, distilled 1975, bottled 1989, 60% ABV bottled for Scotch Single Malt Circle

3. McClellands, Glen garioch, distilled 1979, bottled 1991, 55.5% ABV bottled for Scotch Single Malt Circle


Unfortuantely, I ddin't write full tasting notes for this trio which were tasted during a whisky festival, but I did write some brief comparative notes which I will share with you here;

My favourite of the three was No. 3, the 1979-91 as it offered some wonderful toffee, lemon and cream overtones which lingered luxuriously on the palate in a complex harmony.

No.1, 1975-90 at 56% was only marginally behind due to being slightly less harmonious and a little more raw, or perhaps I should say wild or disjointed. The flavours were there, lots of them, but not as harmoniously. Don't get me wrong, it's a great whisky and one which I would love to have in my cupboard, but I just preferred the 79-91.

No. 2 was a way behind the others as it didn't offer the same range of flavours and had a slightly overwhelming one of chocolate. It was also slightly oily or perhaps even soapy in the mouth-feel.

Having said this, none were bad whiskies and I would happily revisit any, or all of them!






Adelphi, Glen Garioch, 17y, 1998 - 2016, 55.7% ABV

Cask 3730, one of 152 bottles

Original cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Treacle toffee, very dark.

Nose: This is so rich and aromatic with lots of perfumed furniture polish, fruitiness of plums or damsons and smoky dark cherries then after a few minutes in the glass a suggestion of marzipan too.

Palate: The fruitiness from the nose translates directly onto the palate with mouth-coatingly rich damson (& plum) marzipan and some woodiness.

Finish: Almost never ending.

Overall Impression: Amazingly rich, luxurious and a delightful Great!





Archives, Glen Garioch, 1990, 54% ABV

Typical cost of this bottle; €€€€€


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Light golden yellow

Nose: An immediate intensity suggests furniture polish, maybe even Brasso? Yes, it's very intense, very alluding, I like ....... Then come some slightly bitter tropical or exotic fruits, green ones, definitely green.

Palate: Oooooh, very smooth and creamy mouth-feel which somehow I ddin't expect after that nose. The palate isn't at all bitter. There's a hint of coconut, maybe coconut milk? Then summer berries lead into the finish.

Finish: Very long, fruity and creamy.

Overall Impression: Now that's good, very good. An outstanding whisky from one of my favourite distilleries.






The Whisky Cask, Glen Garioch, 1991-2015, 51.3% ABV

Bourbon Cask No.2928

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Yellow gold

Nose: (HP or Daddy's) brown sauce is my first thought, then followed by something mildly meaty, could this be reminiscent of pork pie with brown sauce? Maybe. Finally there's a suggestion of freshly cut wood.

Palate: Spicy and tingly alongside that meatiness which reminds me of roast pork.

Finish: Long with hints of herbs and spices.

Overall Impression: Meaty, spicy, brown sauce, unusual and interesting.










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