FrontRunners: The Peat Goes On

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

On May 1, 1958, Glen Garioch filled three bourbon barrels with a single-malt whisky that, until its bottling last summer, had remained undisturbed for 46 years. The eastern Highlands distillery, which has been producing spirits since 1797, now is releasing the casks’ contents as Glen Garioch 1958, a full-bodied, peat-flavored whisky that represents an increasingly rare style of single malt.

Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Geery) produced the 1958 at a time when the distillery heated its copper-pot stills with coal and germinated and dried barley on-site (rather than purchasing malted barley from an outside supplier, as is common today). The 46-year-old, 86-proof whisky—unlike Glen Garioch’s 10-, 15-, and 21-year-old bottlings—possesses distinct flavors that are consistent with its era and considerable age: smoky apricots, musty apples and citrus, and wet Highland heather. Because of evaporation, the casks contained only enough of the spirit to fill 328 bottles, 43 of which are available in the United States for $2,600 apiece (through White Rock Distilleries, 800.628.5441). Each Glen Garioch 1958 antique-style bottle comes in a velvet-lined wooden box with a brass stag inlay.

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