Bought: Glen Garioch Distillery Shop, 12th September 2016
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
82.82/100 – Whiskybase (average from 24 member votes)
I bought this bottle of Glen Garioch from the distillery shop following my tour in September 2016. My blog about this visit can be found here. Initially I fancied buying a hand-filled bottle but at £135 a pop it seemed rather extravagant. The pre-packaged 1997 ‘Batch 12’ was a more pocket friendly £51. Bottled in 2012 it’s 14-15 years old and cask strength at 56.7%. I’d seen it at airports and online so I knew it wasn’t very exclusive but I wanted a memento of my visit and 1997 was a significant year for Glen Garioch. The distillery fell silent in 1995 but started production again in 1997 so a bottle from that year celebrates the rebirth of a historic and treasured Aberdeenshire business.
Scoring 89.5/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dynamic dram from Glen Garioch as a ‘very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying’. It’s only 0.5 points away from being ‘brilliant’ according to the author, Jim Murray. His review consists of “I have to say: I have long been a bit of a voice in the wilderness among whisky professionals as to regards this distillery. This not so subtly muscled malt does my case no harm whatsoever.”
Reaching nearly 83/100 on Whiskybase suggests a very good single malt. Comments about the Glen Garioch 1997 include “very tasty, nice bourbon-barrel whisky”, “I liked it a lot” and “a very clean and fresh Glen Garioch, on sweet barley and tasting rather young”.
Tasting notes from Master of Malt (where it’s still available for £75.65):
Nose: Creamy and sweet, with notes of vanilla ice cream and banana fritters.
Palate: A kick of cinnamon and pepper, but this remains firmly in ‘caramel and orchard fruit’ country.
Finish: Apple turnovers dusted with brown sugar.
Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts about this Glen Garioch 1997 (August 2015):
Posted in Glen Garioch
Tagged 1997, 56.7%, 70cl, Batch 12, Cask Strength, Glen Garioch, Glen Garioch Distillery Shop, Highland, Highlands, NAS, Oldmeldrum, Single Malt, Vintage Batch 12
Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 24th February 2016
81.3/100 – Whiskybase (average from 12 member votes)
Where did this Highland Park come from? Before you say “a mummy whisky and a daddy whisky” I’ll rephrase my question – I thought the main ‘Travel Retail’ dates for Highland Park had been 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2001? It would make sense since they’re nicely spaced. A 1997 seems a bit out of place. I’ve checked through the HP bottles listed on Whiskybase and I think this is the only ‘Travel Retail’ year version I missed but I’m not sure it was ever available in the UK. The reason I say this is because it rarely, if ever, appears in a British auction even though it was bottled in 2009. When I spotted it, trying to find previously sold versions was practically impossible.
81.3/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable score but falls short of being amazing. Experienced reviewer Mark Dermul leaves us his thoughts about the taste “good start on the palate, slightly bitter but certainly not oaky, with loads of oranges, but also figs. The Orkney peaty is very prominent now. Caramel and some coconut.” He summarises with “this is pretty good stuff and a whole other story than the standard 12 Year Old.” Mark lives in Belgium and his review is from a few years ago when he ends with “last seen for around €45.” I doubt it was ever seen in UK airports for the GBP equivalent (about £35), which is why I think it’s so rare on these shores. It’s certainly a curiosity for a British collector of HP and it’s nice to know it’s a different experience to the standard 12yo.
Bought: Online Auction, 9th October 2015
79.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
86/100 – Whiskybase (average from 29 member votes)
Distilled in 1997 and bottled in the autumn of 2010, this Highland Park (HP) was produced exclusively for the Taiwan Travel Retail market. Although it’s not stated on the bottle this is a 13yo as confirmed by Gerry Tosh of HP Distillery in the video below. Sadly it’s now discontinued, although for a collector that’s a good thing! Hard To Find Whisky are selling a bottle for £300 but bottles can be found at auction for less than £100.
Any whisky averaging above 85/100 on Whiskybase is clearly a good dram. One reviewer remarks “an outstanding and very typical Highland Park, the balance of flavours is just perfect”. Unfortunately Jim Murray isn’t as impressed in his Whisky Bible where 79.5/100 classifies The Sword as “average, and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”. Mr Murray’s entire review consists of “shows its cutting edge for only a brief while on delivery – when it is quite spectacular. Otherwise painfully blunt.” He scores the taste 23/25 (i.e., 92/100) but it’s the nose, finish, balance and complexity that let it down. Thankfully that’s only his opinion. Clearly the majority of drinkers have enjoyed this limited edition from Highland Park.
Gerry Tosh of Highland Park gives us his thoughts about this dram on You Tube (March 2012):
Posted in Highland Park
Tagged 1997, 43%, 70cl, Highland Park, Islands, NAS, Online Whisky Auction, Orkney, Single Malt, The Sword, Travel Retail, Viking Collection