Glen Garioch is a distillery whose wares I'd been wanting to try for a while, so on a recent trip to Inverness, I picked up a bottle of their 1995 Vintage (bottled in 2012) at The Whisky Shop. Sadly, immediately afterwards I caught a cold (the two incidents are not, so far as I know, related: correlation does not imply causation), so had to wait an agonizing few days until my palate was sufficiently recovered to warrant breaking the seal.
This I duly did, betook myself of a half-dram or so and was reasonably impressed. Only reasonably, however, and yet again the distance between my perceptions and those of whoever wrote the tasting notes seemed bafflingly wide.
However, to my next dram I added a few drops of water, something I rarely do but reasoned that with this being bottled at 55%, it wouldn't do any harm. I then left the glass for a good 20 minutes or so to attend to some minor emergency or other happening in the kitchen.
I returned to my glass, and this was what happened next:
Nose: Good Grief! Good Lord Above, and Heavens to Betsy! Bananas!! Ripe, sweet, fragrant bananas, almost took my breath away! Wave upon wave of them, and custardy vanilla too. What an extraordinary transformation had been effected by the simple addition of a few drops of water. This really got me salivating.
Palate: Oh what joy! The bananas and vanilla continued, perhaps with a hint of cinnamon in the mix, the texture like the thin, sweet caramel sauce in crême caramel.
Finish: I could barely bring myself to swallow this mouthful of delight, but when I did I was rewarded with a joyously long, sweet, spicy finish with the merest hint of smoke somewhere in there.
The highest accolade I can give this wonder is that I immediately got on the 'net and ordered another bottle--something I have never done before--to ensure myself a supply for the next few years.
I have no idea (yet) whether this particular expression is typical of the house style or was a serendipitous aberration. Time will tell. But notwithstanding that, I now have a new no.1, and the world of malt whisky has yet again taken me by delightful surprise.