I’ve had limited encounters with Glengoyne, a Highland Scotch producer just a dozen miles from Glasgow, and today had the opportunity to sample four of the company’s most worthwhile expressions. Here are some thoughts on each. As a house style, Glengoyne does not peat its whisky, but rather air dries the barley, so sweetness and wood are the predominant characteristics, not smoke and earth.
Glengoyne 10 Years Old – An alcoholic and rough-hewn whisky, this malt offers concentrated grain notes, some tart sweetness, and a somewhat unbalanced finish, big with booziness but cut with a bit of maple syrup-like sweetness. Though just 86 proof, it’s still harsh on the palate and demands some water. B- / $40
Glengoyne 12 Years Old Cask Strength – 114.4 proof makes this a big whisky, but surprisingly it tastes far smoother and less alcoholic than the 10 year at 86 proof. Heavily perfumy on the nose, the sherry character in this whisky is gorgeous and warming, and the long finish slowly lets in the sweetness rather than using it as a crutch to make it palatable. This is a really lovely single malt that’s worth serious consideration. A- / $60
Glengoyne 16 Years Old Glenguin Shiraz Cask Finish – A limited edition whisky from Glengoyne and a truly special one. Amazingly complex, the nose offers deep wood character and a lot of heat. The body brings in much smoothness — dark toffee, fudgy chocolate, and wood. Citrus. The moderate finish is pleasant and mild, hinting just a touch at the spicy red wine casks in which the whisky was finished. A splurge, to be sure. 96 proof. A- / $100
Glengoyne 17 Years Old – Nothing earth-shaking. Still 86 proof, this is essentially the same whisky as the 10 year, just sitting around in barrels for 7 years longer. Lots of wood here, and probably already too long in the cask, with a bitter, charcoal-like edge. Not unpleasant but relatively uncomplicated, it comes across almost like a starter whisky, and its inexplicably inexpensive price may bear that out. B- / $50