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One of the problems I have with trading samples with my fellow whisky society members is - I tend to forget about them. I mean, they're small bottles hiding in the cabinet! Then I usually find them at some point while I'm going through the inventory. But even worse is when I don't label them properly - and months later I come across it and have no idea what I'm looking at. Sigh.
In this case, the label says "1986 Glen Garioch". No other info, and I can't remember the bottle it came from. And so after copious and exhaustive research (ie. 40 seconds on Google) I found two suspects:
- Distillery bottling, 1986 vintage, 25 years old, Batch No. 11, bottled at 54.6%
- Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 25 years old, bottled at 50%.
Knowing our society's affinity for independent bottlers, I suspect it is the OMC. I'm quite sure it's not the distillery bottling (it's pretty expensive). Or is it something else entirely...?
The colour is a deep yellow. On the nose, I first get that old-fashioned dusty leather-bound book note that I love about this distillery. Quite malty, and very fruity, with peaches and apricots. Just the right amount of oak spice. Besides that, though, it's not particularly complex. A little more herbal with water, but that's about it.
On the palate - hmmm strange. A weird off-note, very sour. Behind that, however, there are more citrus fruits and tart green apples. Water ups the maltiness, but this is quite unpleasant.
On the finish, black liquorice and more peaches, but still very off (it gets worse the longer you leave it in the glass). I can't tell if this whisky is just lousy, or if it's gone off while sitting in the sample bottle for some months. Is that possible? That sour off-note reminds me of a Bowmore I once had, distilled in the 1980s...and Bowmore and Glen Garioch are owned by the same company...coincidence? Plus I've had lots of samples that have been fine after many months, and the nose on this seemed fine. Personally, I think it's the original malt that is simply not good...but who knows? This whisky remains...a mystery.