Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve

I always have a little trepidation when trying a distillery’s whisky for the first time. I don’t know what to expect – will it be bland and uninteresting? Will it be unique, and require me to mentally add a new category to my “types of whisky” catalog? Will I have to come up with new words to describe it? This is my first Glen Garioch (usually pronounced ‘Glen Gee-ree’, which is probably not quite right, Scots-Gaelic-wise). The ‘Founder’s Reserve’ is the baseline malt for this distillery, and is bottled at the unusual choice of 48% ABV, without chill-filtration, after maturation in ex-bourbon casks. There is no age statement, but it’s probably around 8 years of age. It retails for $44, which I consider to be a respectable price in the current overheated whisky market.

Nose: Elegant and nuanced. While the aroma is of a classically American oak-matured malt without any of the trappings of cask finishing, there is a lot of depth here. Vanilla in fine balance with lemon peel and a faint fruitiness, like white raspberries. The required butterscotch/caramel notes are present, and not at all cloying. The alcohol nose tickle comes across as tart, rather than chemical. Very nice.

Palate: Medium-bodied, with a initial hefty rush of tongue burn. The 48% ABV really packs a punch without much sugary sweetness to pad it. Some drying oak tannins, and a pervasive nuttiness.

Finish: Medium length, with some of that vanilla returning in the form of crispy wafer cookies, and the citrus peel in the form of lemon curd. The finish flirts with the edge of bitterness, but resolves instead as lightly wooded and slightly drying.

With Water: Several drops of water add an herbal note to the nose – white tea? The water does nothing to tame the torrent of alcohol on the palate, perhaps even increasing its burn. This doesn’t really need water for flavor enhancement, but you might want to consider adding more than a few drops if you want to reduce the burn via dilution.

Overall: I generally grow bored with malts aged only in ex-bourbon. However, while the Founder’s Reserve doesn’t stray far from the mark in terms of character, it has a grace and nuance that keep it interesting, and a powerful right hook in that 48% ABV – it wakes you right up. This is priced right, at $44. A good baseline dram with a little something extra – a rarity these days.

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About The Distillery

This Eastern Highlands distillery, pronounced “Glen Geerie”, was founded in 1798 and produced malt smoked with the local peat. It was, for awhile, owned by DCL (now Diageo) but was sold to Stanley Morrison of Marrison-Bowmore in 1968. Glen Garioch is now running its malt unpeated, and with notably small stills, but it still has operational malting floors, a rarity. After a history of unreliable water from the local spring, Morrison-Bowmore dug a deep well (supposedly with the help of a local water diviner) to even out the distillery’s water supply. Glen Garioch is among the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland.
Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve
48% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $44 - $48
Acquired: (Sample) Courtesy of Savona Communications. Thanks, Manuela!

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  • Hey, Noob. As always, love the site! Another story for you. I visited the Glen Garioch distillery over the summer. I’ve had the 12 year old (I think that’s what it was) stateside and I liked it pretty ok. The distillery was not actively producing whisky at the time of our visit, so the host said he didn’t want to take our money to basically see nothing. He did, however, invite is to taste pretty much whatever we wanted. The one that struck a cord was “Virgin Oak.” It pretty much means what it implies, filled right into new casks. I would recommend you seek that one out, although it don’t know if you can get it stateside. It tastes like chocolate cake laced with whisky (I can’t see how that doesn’t sound good, but, hey, that’s me). I was blown away. So much so, I purchased a bottle and drank it the rest of my trip, knowing I couldn’t take an open bottle home. That’s one recommendation that I can offer you! Goodness knows I taken many of yours!