Glenkinchie 12 year old is a relatively new release from the Diageo’s stable to represent the Lowlands in the Classic Malt Series. There are only three single malt distilleries operating in the Lowlands. Auchentoshan and Bladnoch are the other two. There are however several continuous grain distilleries such as North British, Invergordon, Port Dundas and Strathclyde.
Due to their proximity to the grain distilleries and the major hubs of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Lowland distilleries have traditionally produced light uncomplicated whiskies, making them suitable for blending and more appealing to English tastes. Single malt releases from these distilleries have been rare, and not as popular as other whisky regions. The hub of single malt production in the Speyside region, producing richer, sweeter whiskies reduced the need for the Lowland style, hence the decline of the region in the 20th century, Glenflagler, Inverleven, Kinclaith, Ladyburn, Rosebank and St Magdalene all falling silent.
The Glenkinchie 12 year old release has had varied reviews. I remember enjoying the 10YO, yet being extremely disappointed with the 12 YO when it was released back in about 2008. More recent reviews of Glenkinchie 12 year old have been far more favourable, which makes me believe Diageo have improved the flavour profile of the Glenkinchie in response to the negative press and sales no doubt. In 2008, there was a very distinct harshness on the finish of the 12yo – making the whisky unpleasant and not good enough (in our opinion) to offer as a SMWCA malt. I still have the remnants in a bottle, and note some minor label changes between the bottlings.
The new release of the Glenkinchie 12 year old has a very pleasant lifted nose, with vanilla, lime and mandarin. There is underlying almond characteristics. One of the aroma’s reminds me of opening a box of Special K. The last eaten box of cereal in the Kellogg’s variety pack that no-one else in the family will eat.
The palate is clean with distinct new make spirit tasting of lime and apple juice. Obvious maltiness, cashews and almonds initially with spice. Delicate rather than light. Good alcohol punch at 43%.
The finish, does not have the harshness of the previous bottling at all. It is estery and rounded, reminiscent of lanolin. There is a touch of bittersweet which may be from the added caramel, if that rumour is true.
A very pleasant whisky, perfect coming into spring with lovely citrus flavours. A lovely whisky turned around in the last couple of years by superior barrel selection and now a worthy example of the Lowland style.