Aberdeenshire and Angus are Scotland’s granary. Right here you will uncover substantial fields operating toward the horizon and making the tiny grains every single distillery in Scotland desperately wants. It is in this landscape exactly where you’d count on to uncover loads of distilleries, but in truth there are handful of, the fertile land zealously reserved for increasing that most lordly of whisky components: Barley. The smaller farm town of Oldmeldrum stands northwest of Aberdeen, and right here you will uncover the most easterly distillery in Scotland: Glen Garioch.
Glen Garioch (pronounced geery) distillery requires its name from the Garioch, a substantial tract of fertile land nearby. Glen Garioch is amongst the oldest officially established distilleries in Scotland as it hails from 1797. Thomas Simpson constructed the distillery and it changed hands various instances in the ensuing centuries (!!). Quite a few other distilleries opened and closed in the interim, and it was Glen Garioch’s inclusion in the well-known VAT69 blend that may well have saved it from a equivalent fate.
Glen Garioch wasn’t immune to the whisky industry’s tumultuous instances, nevertheless, as it was closed and decommissioned in 1968. 5 years later Glen Garioch resumed production below whisky titan Stanley P. Morrison, and the distillery underwent various expansions and upgrades via the late 70s and early 80s, like the initially conversion to gas-fired stills in Scotland.
Suntory bought Morrison Bowmore in 1984, and this marks a turning point in Glen Garioch’s style. Traditionally, Glen Garioch was a peated malt whisky with a somewhat smokey character, but right after Suntory’s acquisition Glen Garioch’s whisky drifted toward fruitier, significantly less peaty expressions. In 1995 Glen Garioch closed once more, and when it reopened in 1997 the distillery no longer created whiskies with any peat and outsourced ancillary production like floor maltings.
None of this history was identified to me when I dropped in to check out Glen Garioch on a sunny May possibly day getting just left Stonehaven en route to Pennan. The magic of serendipity brought me right here just minutes ahead of the day’s only tour, and I happily inserted myself for a appear at this quiet and venerable distillery in eastern Scotland.
Elliot, a flame-haired young man from Carlisle, led a smaller group via Glen Garioch’s fundamentals. This is a smaller, farm-style distillery that can trace its Concerto barley to the precise fields about Oldmeldrum and Aberdeenshire exactly where it is harvested. The barley is malted off-internet site but milled via a conventional Porteus mill and mashed applying the attempted-and-correct technique of 3 waters of rising temperature with the final water reserved for the subsequent mash’s initially water.
Right after a relatively brief fermentation of 48 hours in stainless steel washbacks, Glen Garioch has a wash involving 7-eight% ABV that is prepared for distillation in 1 of Glen Garioch’s 3 stills.
The stills weren’t operating the day of my check out but that meant we got an inside view of the heating apparatus. The stills themselves are moderately sized with downward-angled lyne arms that would introduce a specific physique and oiliness to the completed item. Elliot talked about that back in the day staff began the day with a dram of newmake spirit and I couldn’t enable questioning why guests didn’t.
Right after two distillations, the spirit stands at a robust 72% ABV. It is trucked down to Glasgow exactly where it is watered down to 63.five% and filled into barrels (typically Sherry, Bourbon, or hogsheads) ahead of getting trucked back up to Glen Garioch for aging. The warehouses on internet site hold involving 7,500 and eight,000 barrels.
Right after an extended period of time inhaling vapors from a 1985 cask, we returned to the present shop for a tasting of Glen Garioch’s whisky. We began with a sip of the newmake spirit which was a delicate mix of fruit and grain beneath the very higher proof ABV. Interestingly, these fine flavors grew from a robust backbone so the spirit has wonderful physique. Best for aging.
We then tasted the 12yo, 15yo Sherry cask matured, and 16yo The Renaissance. All of Glen Garioch’s whisky showed talent in the crafting, and considering the fact that all have been at least 48% ABV I knew I was tasting a dram at its apex. I was specifically impressed by the 15yo due to the fact the Sherry was present and clear but not overpowering. Sadly, I’m not confident I can uncover any of these bottles in my neck of the woods right here in the midwest USA (I typically only see the Founder’s Reserve).
Glen Garioch distillery supplies a sense of the old days of distilling in Scotland. It is a smaller, down-to-earth spot quietly creating superior whisky. I can not enable but pine right after a taste of Glen Garioch’s malt ahead of the Suntory acquisition in the early 80s, just to see what the conventional, peaty style would have been like. Possibly some day.
If you are in northeastern Scotland going to castle nation or exploring the coast, head inland to Oldmeldrum and slake your thirst at Glen Garioch.