Glen Garioch is a curious little distillery with a long and varied history. Founded in 1797 and often a key name in discussions about the oldest of Scotland’s distilleries, Glen Garioch distillery is currently in the hands of Suntory alongside Bowmore and Auchentoshan. Like Bowmore, the distillery has a reputation for distinct changes in style between the 70s, 80s and 90s, as peating levels seemed to drop over time and the 80s brought about a sometimes soapy, floral component to the distillery character. Those familiar with Bowmore’s FWP years (take a look at Dave Broom’s E-Pistle for the Malt Maniacs) may approach some 80s Glen Garioch with similar caution.
Happily, the 90s take the comparison further as, like Bowmore whisky, the spirit seems to throw off its frequent lavender-soap associations and returns to an old-school, dusty, faintly smoky highland character. This is great news as some bottles from the 60s and 70s (no need to mention Bowmore again, is there?) have deservedly excellent reputations, and it’s good to see Glen Garioch’s standing among whisky geeks growing once more.