It was at the tail-end of a 14 hour day (living on three hours of sleep) when I first tried this whisky.
Standing in the candle-lit former pigeon loft at the Meldrum House hotel in Inverurie, Morrison Bowmore master blender Rachel Barrie handed small samples from an unlabelled bottle to myself, and the other five people in the small space. Dust and damp, earth and cheese scents wafted through the air as we raised our glasses to first admire and then nose the mystery whisky.
My first thought was that it was both evocative and beguiling – it had loads going on and I could tell it would be a whisky I could come back to again and again, finding something new each time.
We were asked to guess what it was and told it was something that had never been done by Glen Garioch before. With that in mind, I punted at a full-maturation in ex-red wine casks, before Steve Prentice (of Somerset Whisky Blog) and I launched into debate about just how old it was. You could tell Rachel – desperately trying to conceal a smirk – wanted to let us know what it was but as the release was soon to be launching, managed to keep her lips sealed.
When, a couple of weeks after this scene played out in Scotland’s highlands, I had an email through announcing the new Glen Garioch launch to be the wine-cask matured whisky, I can’t say I wasn’t a bit chuffed with myself. But, the important thing? I wanted to know if my sleep deprived brain that tried it the first time would find it as enjoyable on second go-around.
I was lucky enough to receive a sample, and here’s what my less tired self thought of it…
(c): Orange crayons
(n): Quite the seductive nose: strawberry foams, vanilla sugar, dry rose wine, flower (rose) petals, pink peppercorns and honey. With water: slightly fruitier (more concentrated), butterscotch and heather.
(p): Earthier than nose would suggest: wet grass, damp wine warehouses, milk chocolate, dried nutmeg and redcurrants. Very well balanced between sweet, savoury and acidic. A real corker of a whisky for me. With water: more acidic – those top fruit notes come out as do more oranges and a lily floral note.
(f): Peppery flowers.
In conclusion: I really like this one – there’s loads going on with and without water. It’s a great example of how wine casks can bring out extra qualities.