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Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve

Review: Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve   81.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on March 27, 2013

The Glen Garioch Distillery (pronounced ‘Glen Geery’) is located in the town of Oldmeldrum, approximately 20 minutes from Aberdeen. It is the Eastern-most distillery in Scotland, in the Valley of Garioch, which is apparently one of the best barley growing regions of Scotland. The distillery was established in 1797.

The Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve is the distillery’s signature Highland malt. The whisky is blended to achieve a specific taste profile which features the Glen Garioch characteristic taste profile of honey sweetness with hints of heather and just a touch of spice. This whisky does not have an age statement specifically because it is blended to have that signature profile rather than to be of any specific age.

12337A 022In the Bottle: 5/5

The presentation of the Founder’s Reserve is quite acceptable (To the left is a nice bottle shot (J peg) of the 750 ml bottle presentation which has been bottled at 48 % alcohol by volume). As you can see the bottle features the typical style of a bar room whisky. It is designed to be easy to hold, easy to pour, and of course easy to store on the bar shelf. The bottle and label are simple but professional. I am pleased that the closure is a high density cork topper which seals the whisky, and gives me that nice satisfying  ‘pop’ when I first open the bottle.

Given the wide range of styles of Scottish Single Malts, I also like that the display box and bottle contain brief tasting notes which allows the consumer some insight into the Single Malt Whisky flavour profile prior to purchase.

In the Glass:  8.5/10

The whisky displays as a nice golden amber liquid. When I tilted my glass and gave it a slow swirl I noticed the whisky dropped a plethora of small leglets which ran rather quickly down the inside of my glass. The initial scents remind me of a grassy meadow surrounded by willow thicket with clumps of heather here and there. Light butterscotch and vanilla scents waft through the meadow giving the scene a relaxed atmosphere. Soon some spicier scents drift in over the willow thickets, light oak spices with hints of cinnamon and faint puffs of clean white pepper.

In the Mouth 48/60

While the whisky seemed relaxed and inviting while nosing the glass, as I take my first sip things began to change. Sweet butterscotch and vanilla begin the traverse across the palate, but they are quickly swept aside by a rather sharp buffet of dry woody flavours. There is bitterness in the whisky tasting like fresh willow, grape skin, gooseberries, and dry grass. The heat upon the palate is ramped up with the spicy flavour of poplar sap which puckers and dries the mouth as well as citrus zest which adds to that dryness. A floral herbaceousness is present with heather, lemon grass and perhaps a touch of anise seed. All of this flavour would be wonderful, but for that rather dry bitterness which is also present. The whisky is, for me, just a little too much to handle neat, especially at 48 % alcohol by volume. A little water helps, although to tame the bitterness, a splash of sweetened soda works much better.

In the Throat 12.5/15

At full strength, the exit threatens to batter my taste buds senseless with spice and bitterness; however the welcome return of butterscotch sweetness saves the day. When I add a splash of water I taste hints of Granny Smith apples paired with grapefruit juice.

The Afterburn 8/10

At 48 % alcohol by volume, the Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve is just a little too strong for me. The flavours (especially the bitter and the spice) are just a little too concentrated. Although adding water helps, it was not until I mixed a little soda that the whisky was tamed. The whisky is on that cusp where if it was just a little smoother, with just a little less bitter in the flavour profile, then I could really enjoy myself with a dram. However, I found myself adding soda far more often than adding water.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipe

SAM_0331 Polly's CocktailPolly’s Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Scotch
1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
Ice

Optional Lemon Slice for Garnish

Add all of the ingredients with ice into a metal shaker
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a slice of Lemon or Lime if desired

As an aperitif before dinner this cocktail is superb. It also does very well in the early evening when we want to relax and unwind.

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As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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