I think of Glenkinchie, one of the few remaining Lowland single malts, as “the lemon malt”, although its actual nickname is “The Edinburgh Malt” for its location some 15 miles from the capital of Scotland. Glenkinchie was relatively obscure (used mostly in blends) before it became one of the jewels in Diageo’s Classic Malts crown, representing the Lowlands. The standard 10 year-old expression was recently replaced by this 12 year-old. The only other official bottling is a Distiller’s Edition finished in Amontillado sherry casks.
Nose: Slightly smoky (earthy peat, but mild). Dirty honey, malty grains, but not particularly sweet. If I really dig into the glass, some lemon oil.
Palate: Thin body. Grain-forward with complex sooty smoke. Lemon hard candies.
Finish: Lemon (Pledge?). Slightly bitter; charcoal.
With Water: A few drops of water release a lot of bright, tangy lemon on the nose and palate. I recommend a few drops of water with this one.
Overall: Nothing outright bad, but all of the tasty-sounding lemons and honey and smoky malt all come across as sooty, bitter, or stale. Water does help, with a boost in the tart lemon/lemonade character, which provides better balance and more dynamism. Still, this isn’t something that everyone will be happy with after a blind purchase. If this were competing at entry-level tier of $30 to $40, it would be a solid choice. Instead, at regularly more than $50, it’s hard to recommend.