So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Glen Garioch: Founder’s Reserve, 48% (!) vs 12 yo, 48%

Nerdy trivia: An example of a distillery with 3 stills that only double distills? Glen Garioch. It once had 4 stills but was forced to remove one. Fortunately the wash still is large enough to feed both spirit stills. Before getting into these two modern iterations of its whisky, I must say this is a real gem of a distillery with a strong lineage. If you like this Highlands style you should really look into some of its older peated bottlings.

Having 2 sets of tasting notes would be counter-productive here as these 2 are not very dissimilar. Instead we’ll talk about how they are similar and then how they differ.


Nose  Nose: The Founder’s Reserve is not only younger, it is much more natural. Glen Garioch’s character is given more airtime here: Charcoal, copy paper and petrichor shine through despite the obvious attempt to give it mass appeal with first fill bourbon. Sharp green sap too. Ok, hints of toffee, fudge, brown sugar sweetness is there but not enough to restrain the distillate – not a bad thing to me. Also some burnt ends and raw spice. Otherwise it is also quite approachable though not very complex.

The 12 has clearly had love lavished upon it. Loads of fresh sweet bourbony flavours, its that toffee and fudge turned up to max, to the point the distillery begins to recede behind the obvious and thick sweetness. Extra years in wood has allowed the spirit to integrate more and round off some edges present in the Founder’s.Much more caramelized, though carbon paper and a dewy wetness persists. I think there’s too much sweetness in this one though it sure is appealing.

Taste  Palate: The Founder’s Reserve delivers the nose spot on. Enough sweetness, touch of oak, lots of distillery character. More coal gas, soot and ink on the tongue too. Not feinty or raw in any way, given the standard of most NAS bottlings, this should be read as being heads and shoulders above the competition. Aha followed by a burst of charred wood-spice towards the finish. Again no off notes. This is actually really decent.

The 12 takes things up another notch, this time the spices are warm and delivers early on, alongside the slow building sweetness.  A touch of salt, an unlit BBQ pit, dry wood, carbon filters. More or less integrated, also a notch more complexity.

Finish  Finish: The Founder’s Reserve does not have the longest finish, and is a little dry and too burnt at the end. Still well done!  The 12 is much longer, with dry caramel on oak wrapped in distillery character.


Founder’s Reserve:


12 y0 gets:


A worthwhile point to note: Both these entry level whiskies are bottled at 48%, which belays an earnestness that tell me Beam/Suntory are honestly trying. Just have a look at all the 40% NAS at duty free these days.

This is a good and somewhat ‘advanced’ distillate that offers much to the experienced connoisseur looking for the next step, but also faces the need to get a foothold into the mass market. I think their answer is convincing.

One comment on “Glen Garioch: Founder’s Reserve, 48% (!) vs 12 yo, 48%

  1. Carissa Hickling
    November 8, 2015

    Quite liked the Founder’s Reserve! I have a 21 year sample I’ve been just waiting to sip when can give it the proper attention. 🙂

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2015 by in Glen Garioch, Uncategorized and tagged .
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