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Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

Average score from 19 reviews and 83 ratings 77

Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Glenkinchie
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

It had already been 8 years since I last tried the Glenkinchie 12. That may seems like a very long time (well, it is…), but that has everything to do with the fact that this malt does not have a very good reputation. But going back to basics from time to time is not a bad idea. So… here we go.

You may call this a floral nose. Quite some grasses and flowers and pretty grainy too. Only after a few moments do I get some toffee, honey and some pears. Lime creeps in slowly. Some vanilla and nuts. But not much else and to be honest: this is a very mediocre and not very interesting nose.

The body is fine, but the taste is again quite middle of the road, just like the nose. Some sweet grains (you can actually taste the barley), pear, some citrus fruit and loads of oak. It also reminds me a bit of crème brûlée, but not made by the best chef. It even becomes a tad bitter towards the end.

In the finish – which is not overly long – I get some spices, wood and a salty hint.

Well, I guess that explains why it had been such a long time since I went back to this. Note to self: feel free to wait longer than 8 years before pouring this again.


I first tasted Glenkinchie at the very first whisky show I ever went to, Toronto's Spirit of Toronto in 2012. It was a Diageo "Classic Malts" masterclass. It didn't make much of an impression on me, but I figured since I've never reviewed a Glenkinchie before, why not pick one up and give it some proper attention?

The original 'Kinchie in the Classic Malts stable was a 10 Year Old, but they replaced it with a 12 at some point (which by all accounts is an improvement). Fifteen miles from Edinburgh, it is Diageo's only Lowland distillery (they closed Rosebank back in the '80s. Because they are evil.) The distillery was founded by George and John Rate in 1825 (as Milton Distillery) and it struggled until it was purchased in 1881 by an Edinburgh brewer and a couple of wine merchants, who updated its equipment and improved its production. It became one of Diageo's original Classic Malts in 1988.

The colour is a light-to-medium gold. Very grassy on the nose, with herbs, light butterscotch and orange marmalade. Quite citrusy, actually, with lemon curd and lime pith brightening it up. Mangoes and pears, too - a real fruit bomb. I detect a tiny hit of peat. Maltier (and slightly peatier) with water. Too much orange but it is pleasant enough.

On the palate, the orange takes a back seat to toffee, vanilla, ripe peaches and more lemon curd. Very light spices, cardamom and mint. As with the nose, fruit is the dominating factor, particularly citrus and stone fruits. A bit too sweet, but water helps, adding a bit of spice and lime pith.

The finish is crisp, very fruity and has a wisp of smoke to it. This is nice but it's a bit too fruity and sweet for me; if I wanted to introduce someone to whisky who likes Bellinis, I might pick this one. Mind you, it is freshly opened so we'll see if time helps balance it out. 2016 World Whiskies Award-Winner for Best Scotch - Lowlands.

@talexander Since I don't like my bottle, I am doing all kind of blend with it. Tonight, I tried 80% of Glenkimchie 12 with 15 % of Old Potrero (a below average batch) and 5% of Bernheim Original. The nose is great with a unique note of green olive, the type in water that are forest green, and cherries. It sound strange but it works. The palate has a surprising ginger sting. I would definetely buy that blend. I will just add that I don't have clay but something like clay's oil if that makes sense. That is a good end to my day...

@talexander Wow! I wish we could compare our two bottles. I have the herb and the orange, I have the hint of peat ( even if I didn't mention it in my review) but unfortunately I have chemicals and a bitter note. I would say it is fruity but I would never call it a fruit bomb like some Irish are for example. It is good to see differences in our review, it shows that we are still independant and that we are according importance to the most essential part of drinking whiskies: our taste! Thank you also for the informative introduction.


Right from the bat, I will tell you, I am not a fan of the Glenkinchie 12 yo. As my coming back review, I choose this malt because it is widely available and I need to review other malt than those that I really like. It's a good exercise that I need to do. I picked this bottle about a year ago when some expert name it the best lowland under 12 y. So let's start.

Nose: I have alot of drying oak with some wet long grass and a hint funky. Then I have some low notes and orange. Unfortunately, I also have some chemicals. The nose is young and a bit rough but not bad. After sipping it thhe nose shows vanilla

Palate: The palate is a good trancription of the nose. There is some bitterness that will build up with each sip becoming a problem for me and enhancing the chemical note as well. For me, this scotch is like a mix of An herbal version of Glenmorangie original with some generic blend (maybe something like Dewar's basic blend). The oak is mostly like sawdust with some rough spices. The low notes are good but stay in the back ground. In front there is a very present white pepper.

Finish: The finish is very generic and short except for the white pepper.

Conclusion: This dram is easy to forget. With air, the build up of bitterness and chemicals is less present but that doesn't make it a good scotch just an ok one. I will not buy it again.

@Robert99, thank you for your review. One of my Connosr buddies remarked about 3 years ago that I didn't seem to give out very low marks often. I told him it was because it was much more fun and enjoyable to review the whiskies which I liked than the ones which I did not like. Actually I have reviewed quite a few whiskies which I do not like, maybe more often since that conversation. It is a public service to review the whiskies which are commonly available, since those are the ones others are frequently considered for purchase.

@Nozinan, I would be unlikely to trust the purchase of a bottle of Glenkinchie 12 yo unless I tasted it first. I've had samples of two Glenkinchie 12 yos. The first was completely horrible, while the second was good to very good. 50% horrible experience does not give confidence for the purchase of a bottle.

Thanks for this review. I read reviews for three reasons:

  1. To help me decide which bottles to pursue

  2. To help me decide which bottles to avoid.

  3. For the pleasure of reading others' enthusiasm about good whiskies.

This one definitely fits into category 2. Very thoughtful and very helpful. Thanks again.


NOSE: apple cider vinegar, apple juice, green apple skin, tangerine notes and a touch of floral. Vanilla.

TASTE: smooth, slightly oily, cookies, almonds, spice and apples again.

FINISH: short, apples and faint almonds again.

BALANCE: ok. But apples do stand out big time.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: not much to write home about. It's ok, but it's easily forgettable. Not impressed at all. I've been sipping it for 3 weeks now. And it hasn't changed a bit. So...yeah. Not a great.

Don't think I've ever seen anyone raving positively about Glenkinchie 12. I had a truly horrible Glenkinchie 12 yo 4 or 5 years ago, and then a very decent one a couple of years after that. Still not one I'd be going out of my way to purchase, though, unless I found an especially good batch and had the opportunity to taste before buying.

@Georgy, thanks for your review. Both your score and sentiment go strongly with the consensus on Glenkinchie 12. Sounds like you got one with a very strong sour component ("apple cider vinegar"). That would put me off.

@Victor It sure puts me off. It's one of those whiskies which no matter how hard you try to like it, you still will fail miserably.


A Lowlander matured in bourbon casks, new addition to their core range since 2007 (replacing the 10yo). According to Dave Broom, this is an improvement. Like fellow Lowlander Auchentoshan, but with more character – little bit like Dalwhinnie.

It has bit of complexity in the taste, yet it is quite simple in aftertaste. Much fun, sophisticated and light, easy to enjoy. Like a good Woody Allen film. Since it's very floral, I'll call it Blue Jasmine.

Nose: Starts crispy, green apple juice and hints of cinnamon and nuts. Gets mellow and very floral over time. Water brings lemon notes and meringue to the mix, and the nutty notes get salty.

Taste: Green and fruity, apples and pears with some grassy notes. Crispy, sweet and watery in the form of water melons. Even mildly hot. Time and addition of water makes this dram very smooth – too light for my taste.

Finish: Sharp and fast. Mildly spicy – oak tannins, earthly and fruity notes. Water adds bitter notes and makes the tannic oak more dominant. Very fresh aftertaste.

Balance: Round dram, very enjoyable. Smooth, yet characteristic, I wouldn't add water.

Nice to hear that they've done some proper product development. Dave Broom wrote: "Like Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie starts life as a (deliberately) sulfury new make, but this character falls away in time to reveal delicacy. As a 10 year old, that sulfur could still be hanging around — one reason for the switch to a 12 year age statement."

Probably the first batches of the 12 yo were more on the sulfury side?

Greetings, Rantavahti! Nicely done review, and sounds just like the last Glenkinchie 12 yo which I tasted maybe 3 years ago. A year or two prior to that I had some Glenkinchie 12 yo which was really horrible, just among the worst whisky I have ever tasted. I'm glad to read that they are continuing to keep the brand above water now.


After referencing a review by Lifewaterforce on this whisky, and adding a little extra water, I realized there is a passage through the flavors of this whisky that is guided by oats and grains. The nose is innocent and inviting, and really opens up in a snifter with a little extra water. The body boasts natural flavors that I found a bit difficult to identify at first; a little water and a larger receptacle helped sort things out. The finish gives off some smokey wood tones before finding its way back to the cereal flavors. Drink this scotch with an open-mind and leave any predispositions at the door. It's really quite nice...

From snifter, slightly heavier splash of water Nose-23: fresh orange (brief), raisins, green apples, honey, white bread Palate-22: maple and brown sugar, oatmeal, sliced almonds, more raisins Finish-22: flash of peat and smoke, cinnamon sugar toast rolls through, before a warm, dry, tingly, mouthfeel wets your appetite for another taste Balance-23: a very warm comforting stroll through a broad spectrum of flavors. Overall-90

From scotch tumbler, light splash of water Nose-20: honey, lemon, white sugar, honeysuckle Palate-22: oatmeal, light cinnamon-sugar, prickly oak, raisins, table salt Finish-21: wood, florals, sea salt, shallow creek stones, moss, granola finds its way back in Balance-21: all flavors serve as an accent to cereal Overall-84


First Single Malt bottle I have purchased after the blends Chivas 12 and JW Black. I am also familiar with the Dalwhinnie 15, I drink this when I am at my parents home.

I will review this single malt for what it is, a light summertime whisky. I smell lots of sweetness on the nose, little bit vanille, caramel and maybe some fresh lady parfum?

The palate starts sweet but move to a little spicy and maybe fresh notes, like fresh fruit and grass.

The finish is short and not very sweet.

It is not a very heavy whisky, but I like it a lot. On the internet you can read that it is often served chilled like some white wines and to be honest I Iove it that way as a pre-dinner drink in summer or spring.

I will buy a bottle again next summer :)


Glenkinchie is one of the 6 Lowland distilleries left. It is owned by Diageo and based in Edinburgh.

Here are my tasting notes.

Nose: Honey, oak, floral, vanilla Palate: Sweet honey, spiced oak, vanilla, pears, citrus. Smooth and light Finish: Fairly short but with a nice peppery tang

This is a nice summer dram. Light and fruity, fairly smooth but with a nice twist of wood and spices. Easy drinking, not complex but pleasant.

It is indeed a decent summer malt - very 'herbal/grassy'.

Personally I wished the flavor matched their packaging; their presentation (box & bottle) are quite nice, but your score of 79 is pretty appropriate.


Glenkinchie distillery is located in the glen of the Kinchie Burn, near the village of Pencaitland, East Lothian, about 25 kilometres west of Edinburgh. The name ‘Kinchie’ is probably derived from 'De Quincy', the name of the original owners of the land. It was founded in 1825 by brothers John and George Rate, at the time being known as “Milton Distillery”, and the brothers seem to have renamed it in 1837 to “Glenkinchie”. In 1853 John Rate sold the distillery to a farmer named Christie who turned it into a sawmill. As a consequence the distillery remained silent until 1881 when it was purchased by a consortium from Edinburgh and reconstructed. In 1914 five Lowland distilleries, including Glenkinchie, founded Scottish Malt Distillers (SMD); a little more than a decade later, SMD was bought by Distillers Company Limited. During the Second World War Glenkinchie was one of the few distilleries in Scotland that remained in production. The traditional floor maltings were closed in 1968 and turned into a museum in 1969. The Glenkinchie label was relatively little known until 1988, when United Distillers started marketing it under their Classic Malts brand. The 12-year old expression was first released in 2007 when it replaced the 10-year old version.

The nose is light, fruity, and fragrant: apples, honey, oranges, and a malty sweetness are all there, followed by a touch of white chocolate. All in all rather pleasant and quite elegant.

The palate is light-bodied and a tad peppery. Apples and honey are back, now accompanied by notes of cheesecake and some tannic dryness.

The finish is of medium length, both fruity and grassy, and gets dry towards the end.

I am quite fond of the standard Glenkinchie expression. No rough edges, hardly any complexity, just pleasant and relaxing. Why not? Not every single malt needs to be super intriguing.

"Not every single malt needs to be super intriguing." Yes but that doesn't mean it has to be boring, I visited the distillery in 2011 and bought myself a bottle, it isn't bad, but there is hardly anything we can say about this malt. And that is probably the reason why this one survived and not only the pittoresk location as some people claim


Glenkinchie is the first distillery you get to when arriving at Edinburgh, i know it's the only distillery i've visited.

Bought this Glenkinchie in early 2011, more than two years ago, tasted it once or twice being mildly satisfied but a little dissapointed. So much i do know, that all a malt needs to show it's true colours, is a natural quality presentation, good casks, a little air, lots of time, patience and perseverence.

This malt jumped back at me after leaving it a whole year with just a little air (just what it needed) as it seemed rather more closed than bad quality judging by my first impressions.

Nose: Frgarant, light but cereal rich nose. Digestives dipped in camomille tea. Crushed almonds and mixed cereals. Honey biscuits and stewed fruits. Dried apricots and vanilla pods rounds the nose off.

Palate: Clean, fresh cereal-rich arrival, with that digestive note this time mixed with acacia-honey, caramel and an artificial sweetness(saccharin). There is a slight yeast-y note that develops from this, making the arrival simplistic but very comfortable and very pleasant. The developement is made up of green gauge, a BIG peach note that prolongs the medium-long cereal finish, some bitter oak and marmelade creeps in as well as some spiritiness.

Overall a very pleasant malt that got even better with time and air in the bottle. If you like more one or two-dimensional whisky's where you can loose yourself in their savoury singular specialty or if you just like cereal then, well you probably figured out this is your whisky.

In reservation of sounding alcoholic, i would say that if you would need a breakfast whisky, this would make the cut.

Thanks @BARutledge glad you appreciated the review. Hope you are enjoying your bottle of glenkinchie too!

I have recently started reading reviews when I open a new bottle. Your review of Glenkinchie 12yr is spot on!


I was mainly a bourbon drinker until I tried a bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label a month ago. Not willing to pay $94 US for another bottle each time, I went on a one month quest to find one better and cheaper, and I did succeed. This led me to try 37 different scotches, with only five of them being blends. I wound up purchasing bottles for half of what I tasted. My tasting style is quite different, since I don't pick out all kinds of tastes that I see in the notes. To me, this is like looking at rock formations and giving them names based upon who saw it first. What I do is sample my scotch in Glencairn glasses side by side. This has led me to this heavily under rated jewel of a single malt. From my simple notes on each one, I would call it light and fruity with just enough smoky taste to let me know that I am drinking scotch. To me, this one is the most balanced for my tastes. I also do not smoke or prefer the heavily smoked Islay Malts. I would rate this one as a tie with my favorite bourbon, Wathen's Single Barrel. I am only rating it at a 95 since I am sure that I may find a better one at a later date. This has been one instense first month of tasting.

My rating also includes cost considerations. I will also be doing more reviews in the future. Anything that I rate at 80 or above is good. Anything above 90 is worth purchasing a bottle again. Anything below 70 is downright repulsive.

Thanks for the welcome everyone!

Nozinan: I have all three of the Aberlours available in my area in my collection now. They will be rated anywhere from 84 to 94 in forthcoming reviews. I will definitely be tasting all three side by side.

Broadwayblue: Glenkinchie 12 was one of the last ones that I tried because I was convinced that most single malt drinkers ignore the Lowlands pretty much. I tried a shot in a bar and was surprised. Then several days later, I tried another shot of it in a different bar. (We call them shots over here across the big pond, but they are still sipped). Since I was still impressed, I bought a bottle for about $50 US and then tested it side by side over several days against some stiff competition. I have already rated all 37 of my tastings and purchases, with reviews to be forthcoming. For me, I will continue to buy this one for the ages unless quality falters.

FMichael: I loved your story! If that Glenkinchie 12 disappeared that quick, then it is some good stuff!

Since writing this review, I have found two more that are equal or better than this one: Glenfarclas 17 and Lagavulin 16. After all that I have tried in a six-week period of intense tasting, I honestly don't think that I will find anything better than these three for less than $100. However, I can't seem to find a bottle of GlenDronach 15, which I would also expect to rate very high (having tried the 18 YO).


A fine little value whisky here.

Nose: Pears, marzipan, with a nice hint of dew and grass. Very clean. After 10 to 15 minutes in the glass, some richness and warmth starts to come through, like caramel.

Palate: Huh... much deeper than I expected. This is a pleasant surprise. Dew, more grass, followed by some smoke and salt. Again, like the nose, very clean. The body here is very light. This lowlander slides right down the hatch.

Finish: Very light, moist. Really heavy profile of grass, with, surprisingly, cucumber.

Definitely a nice lowland! Nothing wrong with this at all.

@FMichael, yes, it is rather grassy...

My experience with Glenkinchie 12 is sharply divided. I had a sample of it about 18 months ago which was one of the worst whiskies I have ever had...and I had some just a few months ago which was very serviceable and about as you describe. I am sure that this was mostly due to batch variation. Note that Jim Murray observed exactly the same thing about Glenkinchie 12 across presumably those same two recent year batches, ie, the more recent Glenkinchie 12 was far better than it had been a year earlier.

Glad I'm not the only one who got "grass" from this lowland whisky - lol.

In all seriousness; it's a decent single malt; I find your score of 81 is fitting.


Nose: I am greeted with floral tones and citrus fruit like grapefruit that are subtly released rather than striking the nose with an immediate thump. Unable to peel away any layers with this whisky, I am left slightly unimpressed with the nose on this whisky.

Colour: A beautiful light orange.

Taste: Smooth and light citrus fruit and bitter orange slowly develop while a short lived fruity sweetness wrestles with lemon myrtle and mandarin peel to bring elements of bitterness towards the end. Not bad.

Finish: Unimpressive. The warmth and flavor fizzles away like a cheap firework.

Overall: An enjoyable whisky that is light, floral and fruity with sweet and bitter. On this occasion the sent did not immediately strike my nose and I was left searching without much success at peeling away layers which may or may not exist. On the tongue the experience is much the same. No real oomph could be detected in this whisky, and the flavor dawdled in slowly like a young lad coming home from an unsuccessful first date! Not for me, as I enjoy robust and energetic whisky that punches the palate and the nose in its own unique way.

Had two samples of GlenKinchie 12 from two clearly different batches: one was downright horrible, the other pretty good. Whiskies can change a lot from year to year and batch to batch. The inconsistencies can make a person wary about purchasing a bottle of said whisky.


So thanks to the tax man i was able to purchase some whiskys to try/enjoy, these were Talisker 10yo, lagavulin 16yo, glenkinchie 12yo, cragganmore 12yr, dalwhinnie 15yo and highland park 12yo

So far i havetried the Talisker and the Dalwhinnie 15yo and really enjoyed them both but now its time for the glankinchie 12yo.

nose: The first thing i get it flowers, but after a little bit i start to get a very sweet caramel/toffee smell with a little honey.

Taste: More flowers with honey and spice followed by the caremel.

Finish: Is short with the honey standing out alot

overall a nice whisky but needs something more to it.


At first whiff, you get nothing but alcohol. But this whisky is deceptive, and patience is required if its secrets are to be accessed. With each nosing, it reveals more of its character. A harder, medicinal quality becomes apparent followed by a softer, floral fragrance. These two interplay perfectly, with the floral quality taking centre stage before not too long, accompanied by the faintest trace of tea.

The harshness that first befell the drinker has long since disappeared. Indeed, it is a wonderfully soft whisky and its palatable offerings are even more delicate than its smell. Memories of a warm summer’s evening intensify with each tasting. Honey becomes the support actor, and faint liquorice traces leave themselves upon the tongue. Caramel, a late entrant, closes the show.

The finish is light, almost airy; if anything a touch too delicate. But this whisky is to be commended. Impatient drinkers get what they deserve here. Patience is the order of the day: treat it with respect, and it’ll reveal all it has to offer.


It's been a while since I've reviewed anything on Connosr, so thought I'd start with something less taxing than the Rollercoaster... This evening I'm sipping on this little number. It's not my usual dram of choice, but I fancied something a bit more lightweight, and this is fitting the bill kind of nicely.

A cold January probably isn't the best time for a glass of the 'kinchie 12, unless you're dreaming of springtime already. The nose is fairly straightforward - I get the wet cut grass notes that other reviews pick up on, with a kind of cloying sweetness behind it - like strong toffee and honey stirred in, perhaps with a hint of apples. It's a bit like a late Summer evening pegged on to a Spring day, if you've ever travelled through time like that.

For me, the body whacks out a strong wine aroma - both white and red grapes, with a little too much of the skins left on - almost raisiny, perhaps. Hidden somewhere amongst that there's a florality (like morality, but with more flowers) to balance it out, although if you're in the wrong mood the 'Kinchie can come across as more diversive instead. The string wine flavour carries over as I gulp down the glass. Markjedi1 notes how well this goes with pasta in his review, and I can totally see how that would work.

For the review's sake, I added a splash of water to this, out of scientific curiosity to see how it would react. Rather pleasantly, the toffee and butterscotch notes seem to get drawn out more, although I suspect any more than a few drops would kill it off pretty quick. Maybe one should drink it neat with the main meal, then stir in some drops to go with pudding...

Overall, this is a decent whisky to have lurking in the back of the cupboard, just for evenings like this.


I tasted it yesterday evening in a bar, a discret dram, but too light for me. Medium sweet and low-bodied, the final is short. This is the first lowlands whisky I ever tasted, I think to don't buy the bottle (almost 30€ in the store).


Never having tasted the 10yo, I cannot make any comments about it being a step up or not. Having said that, let me just say that it's got a flowery nose with some vanilla.

It's medium-bodied and sweet. Even a tiny bit buttery and with a long, herbal finish.

I had pasta with curry sauce and cooked scampi for dinner and believe it or not, this whisky went very well with it - I, at least, would never have thought that. A pleasant surprise. But still this whisky is rather 'mainstream' in my book.

Curry, while instantly given to indian food, can be quite diverse. I have used it in many un-traditional ways. Including a rub for pork and beef. A true underated multitasker spice. Coming back to topic, the Glenkinchie 12 is a fairly bland and light whisky that could complement pasta, fish, or pork meals nicely. Under most circumstances I prefer Whisky to be a post meal drink (defering to wine or beer). This is one time I would make an exception and one time that I would welcome the GK 12 on my table.

Hi @Markjedi1, you must have premium taste buds ... for me, food ruins the taste of any whisky, and adds a bitter and hot character to it. And so, I have to wonder if perhaps your review had been tainted (unless the review came before dinner) ? But I do agree that Glenkinchie 12 is quite a lackluster malt.


Nose: Light, sweet (cereal and honey), fresh cut grass, with a trace of smoke. Palate: Very floral, citrus, honey, over-ripe fruit Finish: A little spice, some alcohol and sweetness. Comments: More complex and interesting than your average lowland malt, this is an everyday kind of malt. While none of the flavors are terribly bold, this is a good dram. A great intro into single malt Scotch. Stands out among low land whiskies, but is a bit of a light weight. Definitely a step up from the 10yo.

I just had a tumbler of this whisky before dinner as an aperitif. Instead of writing a new review, I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with this one (cannot confirm last comment as I've not yet tasted the 10yr old).

I had the audacity of adding a cube of ice to my drink. It didn't diminish the savviness (is that a word?) of the dram.


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