Glenkinchie (12 year)

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.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Glenkinchie, called “The Edinburgh Malt” for its proximity to that city, uses Oregon Pine washbacks and hard water, which previously flowed from the Kinchie burn. Now the water comes from Hopes Reservoir which is fed from springs in the Lammermuir hills. One of the few remaining Lowland distilleries, Glenkinchie represents the Lowlands in Diageo’s Classic Malts series.
Glenkinchie (12 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $45-$55
Acquired: (45ml sample bottle) From a Flaviar Tasting Box

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  • When someone asks me to rattle off my least favorite single malts, believe it or not, this Lowlands dud is #1 on that list. I once looked myself in the mirror and seriously considered whether I could be a closet anti-Lowlands-ite. After reflecting, I determined such an accusation would be disingenuous given my love and respect for the succulent and luscious Auchentoshen 12. And for additional context, Cragganmore 12 and Jura 10 would come out of my mouth after GK 12 insofar as additional single malts to avoid, should my view be solicited on the topic. (Maybe I’m just unconsciously anti-Diagio!) I corroborate SN’s conclusion – at the $60 (US) price point, the GK 12 simply cannot be given serious consideration. Move on.

  • The following observation is out of context from the aforementioned review of GK 12, but may bear interest to those ‘scotch noobs’ who believe scotch tastes just a little bit better when you get a good price on the bottle! I just left the worst place on earth to drink scotch, Ontario Canada, where taxes on liquor are high, selection is poor (damn the LCBO) and pours are shallow (1 oz standard poor). I have arrived in the whiskey hotbed of Hartford, CT and just purchased the incomparable Old Pulteney 17 for $99 and couldn’t possibly pass up the Compass Box Flaming Heart 15th anniversary edition standing next to it for $105. USA – tops in gold medals and scotch prices!

  • Peat? Smoke? There are neither of those things in this whiskey at all. Not even a little. So what might you have been confusing for peat smoke? Funk? Astringency? Not sure.

  • I happened across a 10 year bottle of glenkinchie at a local liquor store recently at a decent price and not knowing the 10 year is no longer bottled i purchased it. I do have to say it is an absolute delight to drink . I am quite fresh to scotch but have collected a few goodies and love this website . Haven’t tried the 12 year but I may because I do like the 10 .