Nearly the End of an Era

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

When the famous Highland distillery of Glen Garioch (pronounced “Glen Geery”) was mothballed in 1995 after 198 years of operation, it ended a legacy of producing lightly peated, honeyed single-malt whiskies. Now, one of the last distillations made before the distillery closed, the Glen Garioch 1994 vintage ($109.99) has just been released. Having spent 17 years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels, this non-chill filtered, 107.8-proof cask-strength whisky is reminiscent of a bygone era.

Gentle smoke intermingled with pears, almonds, and a touch of dried fruit and seaweed provides a medium-strength dram best enjoyed over ice. Although the distillery was reopened in 1997 after having been purchased by Suntory of Japan in time to celebrate its 200th anniversary, the malted barley is no longer dried with peat. Thus, the smoky character of the 1994 vintage no longer exists. With only 3,000 bottles reserved for the United States, this is a single malt to be enjoyed now, but it may also warrant putting aside a few bottles for the future, to remind us of the past. (www.glengarioch.com)

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