Glengoyne 10 vs Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve

All this talk of Oloroso made me want to go out and buy a bottle. And so I did. I got myself a La Bota no°94 “Más allá del NO” from Equipo Navazos which was bottled from a single butt of a very old Oloroso sourced from Eduardo Ojeda in Jerez. This is an exceptional and mind-blowing pour, from the colour to the nose and finally to the taste, dry and naturally unsweetened. But I’m not here to interpret this sherry. This was just a slight [and much welcome] detour. Let’s get back on the road for another fine trip. But first, the music. Now playing: FionnlaghIn Isolation.

Today’s dram is from Glengoyne, and it’s a 10-year-old single malt bottled at 40% ABV. It’s got many awards, including a Gold from the International Spirits Challenge and a Gold from The Scotch Whisky Masters [both from 2020]. It’s a light-coloured, slightly golden and bright pour, and for a second, my mind tricks me into thinking that it will be smoky. This is very deceitful since the Glengoyne is completely unpeated – the malt is allowed to dry naturally [with warm air]. It goes down easy. Dangerously so. There is a scent of crispy green apples and a little bit of zest. I decided to compare it with Glen Garioch, also a Highland single malt. The latter is at 48%, so I drop a tiny capful of water for a fair impression, but more on that below. With the Glengoyne, I find myself strolling through barnyards, full of dry piled grass. I sense sunlight pouring through the windows, and a cool summer draft. And then, just like that, it is gone! I was very much afraid of that, and I sadly gaze into my glass at the very last drop. This is a fascinating bottle, especially because you can grab it for a mere £35. I am happy for it to be young but am also very curious about another decade of maturation. Especially if it rested longer in those Spanish and American casks [even if they were “seasoned” with sherry].

I move on to the Glen Garioch (pronounced “glen geery” in the Doric dialect of Aberdeen) 1797 Founder’s Reserve. It’s the most eastern distillery of Scotland, and the taste is immediately distinct. There’s that caramel and some vanilla on the nose, and then more on the tongue. It feels fuller in my mouth [possibly “thicker” if that’s the right word to use], and the finish is long, quietly masking itself in that empty room of the house, like a child still hiding, after everyone’s gone. I do enjoy the sweetness [which was somewhat absent in Glengoyne], and I do like the bite of an extra degree. It’s that combination, with a dash of burnt toffee and that elegant warmth, that reminds me of this festive season or perhaps of the flickering candles and lights. It’s got a fancy Founder’s Reserve in its name, but it’s part of a core range, with no age statement, and you can find at only £30 – once again, an incredible price, great for an entry-level palate and a post-Christmas wallet. There is bourbon and sherry cask here, but they’re not as pronounced – just a tad honeyed sweetness and a bit of added colouring. I will accept this as an introduction to this distillery founded in 1797 [hence the year in the name] and see if the older casks are not more up my alley.

All in all, a good pairing and a tasting indeed. Neither one blew my socks off [well, except when I saw how cheap you can buy them for]. I won’t probably restock the two but may try older bottlings, like that fantastic looking 27-year-old single cask from 1970 [Glen Garioch distillery archive], or the 32-year-old from 1988, this time from the Carn Mor Family Reserve. Or the Glengoyne 25-year-old sherry cask, which is, surprisingly, not that expensive. With that in mind, I bid you adieu, which in French means “one more,” or perhaps that’s Canadian. Oh, and yeah, the Glengoyne wins this round.

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