Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Glen Garioch Experience Part 2 (Virgin Oak Launch)

Whisky Discovery
The second of our Glen Garioch experiences over the summer was an invitation to the launch of the Virgin Oak, at an intimate gathering at the boutique Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell, London. Although originally planned for the 3rd July 2013, due to reasons beyond our control it was postponed until 16th July, and so we duly set off down to London to meet up at the venue. (July 3rd would have been handy as we were already in the city that day having spent all day at Imbibe Live. You can see our Imbibe Live Facebook album here

Well if you can cast your minds back to mid-July you should remember we had a glorious summer. The evening of 16th was one of those hot, humid sultry evenings. We got down into the city a little earlier than necessary, but living out in the sticks means taking an afternoon off of work to attend London events, and with an afternoon off of work, you might as well be enjoying yourself, so we found where we were supposed to be going and then parked ourselves in a nearby pub for a crisp cold beer before dinner.

We weren't sure who was going to be at the dinner, but we were the first to arrive, perhaps a few minutes early, but then we were only sitting in the pub across the way. Along with host Carolynne Coole, from Consolidated PR, Morrison Bowmore's Phil Nickson was ready in the dining room. We waited for the other guests to arrive, the dining room wasn't huge, I quickly counted up the seats and realised that this really was going to be an intimate dinner, just nine of us in total.
Whisky Discovery
Matt and Karen from Whisky for Everyone
First to arrive was The Miss Whisky herself, Alwynne Gwilt. We've met up with Alwynne at a number of events over the year as we've made ourselves known to the whisky industry, and its always good to catch up with her. Matt and Karen Chambers from one of the very first whisky websites I was reading 'Whisky for Everyone', were next to arrive and were promptly followed by acclaimed whisky writer Ian Buxton and Whisky Squad founder Jason B Standing making up the nine. We were feeling very privileged to be amongst such esteemed company, and while we had met everyone before, the evening provided a fantastic opportunity to simply sit down and talk!
Whisky Discovery
Yes, that's Ian Buxton next to Phil Nickson
A very enjoyable three course dinner with wine followed while we all got to know each other a little better. Kat and I had already made our menu selections, ensuring that we chose something different for each course so we could swap halfway through, ensuring we tried a little of everything. So we shared starters of Smoked Chicken and Salmon tartare, which we followed with main courses of Baked Cod and a Veggie chorizo. We both picked the Apple Tarte for our deserts as none of the other choices grabbed our attention obviously!

With the meal finished it was time to bring out the whisky. We started with their aged core expression the 12 Year Old before the unveiling of the Virgin Oak. (a few more pictures can be found on our Facebook page here:)
Whisky Discovery
12 Year Old left, Virgin Oak right
So What did we Think?
Both Kat and I had been at the earlier tweet tasting where Rachel Barrie had tested the reaction to the Virgin Oak by sending it out as a blind dram, and so we had tasted both of these expressions before, although we didn't know it was the Virgin Oak then.

Glen Garioch 12 Year Old (48% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £35.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
First released in 2010, the 12 Year Old is one of Glen Garioch's two core expressions, sitting alongside the NAS 1797 Founders Reserve. Both of these expressions are bottled at the unusual strength of 48% abv and non-chillfiltered (although I understand colouring is used to ensure consistency between batches). This whisky has been matured in a combination of both ex-Bourbon and Sherry casks

Dave Said: The nose opens with floral and herbal notes of heather, grassy, vanilla notes starting to evolve, grapefruit too.

On the palate this is not an immediately sweet dram, opens with bitter grapefruit pith and a huge hit of white pepper, but hold on to it, the fire subsides and becomes creamy with lots of ginger, I wasn't expecting that. The finish is long, spicy at first, softening with a woodiness before turning dry

I really liked the Glen Garioch 12 Year Old the first time I tasted it and added a bottle to my shelf.

Glen Garioch Virgin Oak NAS (48% abv)
Highland Single Malt
circa £65.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
Glen Garioch is one of the few distillers to produce a fully matured virgin oak single malt. Its intense flavour means it can hold up in the new fill cask, bringing its own unique woody tones to the malt – a dram to savour.

Dave Said: The nose has lots of spicy wood notes with a herbal element too that is slightly reminiscent of Vietnamese Coriander. A drop of water sweetens the nose and lots of vanilla notes develop in the glass.

On the palate this is sweet and smooth and creamy, almost buttery. The heather notes come across and there are some tangy orange marmalade flavours too. The initial sweetness is balanced by a savoury side too and has a warming finish with ginger and spices.

Kat Said: On the nose I was greeted with an instant hit of spices & vanilla notes from the virgin American oak cask. After a short while spices can be pin pointed as nice blend of mace with a touch of sweetness from star anise and cinnamon. Some hints of toasted nuts and toasted white bread follows. At this point the dryness of this dram is noticeable, with dry straw notes wandering back & forth. With sometime in the glass, the golden syrup note makes its way through but doesn't make the whisky feel heavy. With a generous splash of water, it brings out more floral notes, Manuka honey, more vanilla, and creamy white chocolate.

Taste: Again you’re hit with the spices, this time predominately of cloves, some pepperiness & oiliness of light virgin olive oil. These are followed by bitter lemon pith, raw hazel nuts, and a touch of honey. Water tones down the spices, making it more balanced. For me this whisky is a tad too spicy so prefer this one with water.

Finish: Not a surprise that you also find spices lingering in the finish. Some toasted nuts & cereal notes towards the end.

Generally I like my whisky neat but this one is so spicy that it over powers the other aromas & flavours. Luckily with a decent splash of water, the spicy wild beast was tamed. It allowed the sweet, creamy & toasted notes to come through making it a more enjoyable dram for me. As this just uses virgin oak casks, there’s a lack of fruit flavours that you get in say refill sherry casks which makes a nice change.

Slàinte! Kat and Dave

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