Whisky and Words Number 97: Glengoyne 10-year Scotch Whisky

A classy design with earnest messages.

Glengoyne is a property of a private company (self-described family firm) Ian MacLeod Distillers, who have in addition to Glengoyne another 4 single malt brands (Tamdhu, Rosebank, MacLeod’s, Shieldaig) as well as six blends, a rum and a gin brand. You’ll see Lang Brothers on the label of Glengoyne, but that’s a brand owned by MacLeod.

Most distillery brands have  a hook, and Glengoyne’s is patience: “UNHURRIED SINCE 1833”, and “The slowest stills in Scotland” declares the web page of Glengoyne. A highland producer (distilled in the highlands, aged across the road in the lowlands), they claim their whisky takes about 3 times as long to distill. With but three stills, they produce about one million liters per annum. Compare to Glenfarclas, another family firm, 6 stills (4 active) and four times the output, Glengoyne is truly an intimate operation.

Green earnestness.

Following distillation, the new make is transferred to casks which are “prepared for six years.” Those would primarily be ex-bourbon casks from a producer of bourbon who age for 6 years, which is actually a pretty good interval for American whiskies (warmer climate, typically shorter aging). But what of the sherry casks they use (a combination of both)? They might be soaking bourbon casks in sherry specifically for the flavor profile, which is common now that shipping sherry in butts has not been a thing for decades. I did inquire via email, but have no heard back as of yet.

It’s a tall bottle, with a slight taper and modern but understated labeling. Inside you’ll find a fine spirit with a straw color and no smoke on the nose. The nose is nicely balanced and full of interesting aromas: heather, apple, strawberry, oakey vanilla and cinnamon. Well done. The palate is smooth, unctuous, carrying a sweetness between marshmallow and caramel with a good amount of cinnamon mid-palate and tannin bitterness on the side of the tongue for balance. The fruit flavors come through as well and overall it’s a varied and pleasant mid-palate. The finish is on the bitter side but brings along an herby aroma.

Glengoyne 10-year Highland single malt Scotch whisky, 43% ABV

Nose: A balanced combination of heather, apple, strawberry, aromatic oak, vanilla and cinnamon.
Palate: Smooth, great mouthfeel, sweet between marshmallow and caramel, vanilla, cinnamon.
Finish: Cinnamon and tannin bitterness balance the sweet, with herbal aromas.

Bottom Line: Glengoyne is a small producer and their product is made with care, so don’t expect it to be cheap. At $67 locally, this is a whisky you’ll buy when you want something refined and delicate. It has a lot of competition from less expensive 12-year-old expressions but I’d say the complicity and refinement is worth the extra bucks. I’ve been looking to extend my Highland whisky selection, so this is a good find. Our whisky group liked it!

Coming next: the Glengoyne 18-year review.

A fine looking dram, with flavor to back it up.

Author: H.W. MacNaughton

Technologist and communicator. Into technology, jazz, Formula One, sci-fi and any good writing about real stuff.

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