The start of my whisky journey

Last night I went to a whisky tasting at the Whisky Exchange. If you are at all in to any kind of spirits I would suggest a visit to their website or their shop. The selection is impressive of course for whisky but also a large range of other spirits. When I was in the shop yesterday I found myself wanting to start spending money on spirits I knew and bottles of spirits that just looked irresistible, especially the gin.

However this night was all about whisky and Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Geerrrie with that charming Scottish accent) whisky. Holding the tasting was Ian McCallum the former master blender of Bowmore, Glen Garioch and Auchentoshan. He was funny and made whisky approachable. I am a complete novice when it comes to whisky.

Glen Garioch is one of the smallest distilleries,. It is more than two hundred years old and is in the town of Oldmeldrum, located in the ‘Valley of the Garioch’, famous for producing the finest golden barley in all of Scotland. This is where the whiskies came from and we tried seven different ones, each paired with cheese from Neil’s Yard.

The cheeses ranged in taste and texture to go with the different whisky years. It was explained that the high alcohol in the whisky would go great with the density of the cheese. As a devoted cheese lover who can argue with that. I would not have thought of whisky and cheese but was pleasantly surprised!

To get started we had Glen Garioch Founders Reserve, 48%, this was paired with a hard Irish Cow’s cheese. I tried to see if I could describe the taste, or what came to mind and this was like spending time with a young relative with an attitude.
We moved on to the Glen Garioch 12 year old, 48%. This was paired with parmesan cheese and reminded me in taste of a rounded garden. It was smoother and easier on the pallet.
Next was a Glen Garioch 1994, 53.9%. It was served with an Irish cheese, Coolea – a revelation! I must track it down. The whisky might have been the least of the evening’s whiskeys with a sharp and edgy taste.
From this we moved on to the Glen Garioch 1991, 54.7%. It was served with Lancashire cheese. This tasted like the Daddy of whisky, reminding me of a much loved uncle. It is bold and brassy, quite masculine I would say.
After that we had Glen Garioch 1986, 54.6%. It was perfect with the Coolea cheese. The whisky had a pleasant heat from the alcohol but it was a smoother and very pleasant.
The Glen Garioch 1978 57.8% was one of my favorites for the evening. It didn’t have the massive heat from the high alcohol content but was very rounded and smooth, it went down very well.
Last but not least we tried a Glen Garioch icon in the whisky world. It was from 1971 at 43.9%. By far this had a smokier character but it was also very smooth.

It was a very interesting evening. Ian McCallum was very entertaining. He has worked in the industry for a long time and the passion was ever present and infectious, the evening went by very fast and I do have my eye on the 1978 with a feeling that I have just started what will become a life journey to find whisky that I like!

More information about the Glen Garioch distillery here


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