I do like a tour that starts with a dram. We begin with the 12yo.
- N: Honeyed, floury malt, raisins, creamy caramel, a fresh fustiness [if thats possible?], a little slice of new plimsole rubber, figs,… Easy and pleasant with clear signs of more growth potential.
- T: More of the same. Cuts in nicely with decent weight, some body and shape.
- F: Short with milky/chalky, vanilla-ed, malty-chocolate-y sweet remnants.
- C: Pleasing balance between maturity and youth. As I commented last year, [still] a very decent entry-level core release.
Scores 84 points
Glengoyne [Glen of the Wild geese WC], is one of the smaller traditional distilleries [1.1mlpa], and much like Auchentoshan there’s very little automation [see left]. The distillery is currently owned by Ian MacLeod SW, making it one of the few Scottish-owned distilleries.
George Connell and the Edmonstone family made the leap to legal distillation in 1833 when they officially opened the Burnfoot distillery. The name changed to Glen Guin in 1876 when Lang Bros bought it from John MacLelland. By 1905 it was officially known as Glengoyne.
Their main water source is provided by Loch Carron whilst cooling water comes from the Blairgar Burn. In total, Glengoyne use 2.6 million litres of water each week which equates to 100lts of water required to produce one bottle of whisky, apparently!
Glengoyne is situated in a beautiful spot in Stirlingshire. Despite being in close proximity to Lowland distilleries Auchentoshan, Loch Lomond & Annandale, the A81 that runs right through the heart of the site represents the boundary between the Lowland & the [central] Highland whisky regions – dividing this [Highland] distillery and its [Lowland] warehouses/filling station. A unique situation no doubt, what other distillery can lay claim to having its on-site warehouses in a different whisky region to its main distillery buildings? Though less romantic-sounding, it would perhaps be more useful to designate a Midlands region that could include Deanston and Tullibardine as well as reuniting the Glengoyne distillery with its casks.
MALTINGS, FERMENTATION & DISTILLING
Glengoyne hasn’t malted their own barley since 1908 and their malt contains no smoke.
Their 6 washbacks are made using single pieces of Oregan pine, 5 metres in length. They are all equipped with ‘vegan’ blades.
Like Auchentoshan & Annandale, Glengoyne has three stills. Like Annandale [& unlike Auchentoshan], there’s one dedicated wash still & two spirit stills – both with reflux bowls to increase the copper contact.
CASKS AND AGEING
Glengoyne have bucked current trends and maintained their age statement policy, ageing all their spirit for a minimum of 10 years. So no NAS then? – almost. Their ‘Cask Strength’ series and ‘Teapot dram’ are currently their only NAS expressions. Otherwise, their core range sees a 10, 12, 15, 18, 21 & 25yo as standard with a character throughout that relies on a decent proportion of European sherry oak.
Given I was driving, I took the final 18yo tour-dram home with me. Today I’m pairing it alongside a 17yo I have in the library.
- N: A jump in maturity brings far more fusty/hessian notes than the 12yo. Some wine & cider join the honeyed & caramel, Shreddies, chalky Travel Sweets,… It develops into a mature vanilla-ed grain-like whisky with a savoury-light mash balanced against a bourbon-led, sweetish citrus-fruit woodiness.
- T: Some OBE, drats – that’s often the problem with these miniatures. Time passes and [almost] all is well. Its a little sharp & erratic neat and initially loses out to the 12yo on power as well as commitment and vibrancy. With water: with little-to-no sherry action showing it speaks heavily of a mature, chalky-dry, lemon citrus-savoury-sweet Speyside-style malt matured in-refill bourbon [no complaints there], with a slightly waxy-oily mouthfeel too. Good stuff, old-skool!
- F: Medium-short and soft, fusty=wafer, savoury-sweet.
- C: What a journey. Score-wise I had this in the 70s before significantly upping the score to an appropriate 86. Then I saw Serge [and some Maniacs] had had a similar journey: 88/78/88. In the end, I realised this as a very decent old-style malt. Bucking the current trend once again, Glengoyne has subsequently replaced this 17yo with their 18yo.
I had this last year and liked it . Made up of 50% refill and 50% first-fill casks [a mix of types].
- N: Quite a bit darker than the 17yo. Notes of caramel, mocha, Chai spices, fusty-sweet hessian, popadoms, dry fruity maltiness, ripe/drying pineapple=mango,…. help yourself.
- T: Dark/oaky bitter<savoury=sweet, all brought-on by that fundamental cask-mix use [see pic above], coupled with a long [slow?] maturation. Compared to the 17yo, richer/creamier caramel/fudge notes. Getting water involved brings out again more bourbon action than expected – what is the sherry ratio at Glengoyne? Hangs onto a soft-dry, waxy, fusty, barley-mash into the finish.
- F: Milky, ‘shroomy’, mature woody finish. Aged just right.
- C: Really works a treat this 18yo, which is why not much has changed with the recipe over the years [so I’m told]. In this modern climate of NAS & finishes galore, here’s a rare example of a traditional malt where style & quality have been maintained.
Scores 87 points