Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Diageo. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In movies, a good director’s cut accomplishes a couple of things. You get a bit more of what you love, maybe a surprise or two, and maybe some more character development that wasn’t in the original. This applies to a good distiller’s edition as well.
This review is one of several reviews looking at the 2021 Classic Malts Distillers Editions from Diageo. Click here for the other reviews in this series. Everything in this product line starts by being aged in a barrel that is re-charred American oak with “crocodile-skin” charred new American oak ends. Then each distillery uses a different style of fortified wine to finish their spirit.
Glenkinchie Distillery is one of the few Lowland distilleries still in operation and the only Lowlands Scotch in the Classic Malts line up. The distillery was founded in 1837 by brothers John and George Rate. It closed in 1853 and was sold off and turned into a saw mill. It was purchased by distillers again in 1880 who called themselves the Glen Kinchie Distillery Company. Glen Kinchie continued operation during both World Wars. It ceased floor malting in 1969 when the facility for that was turned into a museum.
Glenkinchie has one 21,000 liter wash still and one 17,200 liter spirit still producing 1.7 million liters a year. According to “The Curious Bartender an Odyssey Malt, Bourbon & Rye Whiskies”, by Tristan Stephenson, Glenkinchie only sells 250,000 bottles a year. Assuming those are 750ml bottles, that is a little less than twenty percent of their production. The rest is used in blending for things like Haig, Johnny Walker, Buchanan and Dimple.
One of the more interesting things with Glenkinchie’s distillation setup is that they have a two-story high cast iron worm tub with a rectangular spiral. Worm tubs are used for condensing distillate by cooling the vapors from the still and are generally a tube made into a circular coil, often seen in copper or stainless steel, that sits in a large vat of water. Worm tubs of the copper variety will continue stripping away heavier compounds during this process and lead to a lighter spirit.
The 2021 Glenkinchie The Distillers Edition is finished in Amontillado Sherry casks. Amontillado Sherry is seen as one of the most complex sherries because it is aged both under flor and without flor. Flor is a film that develops due to yeast and creates a protective barrier for the aging process. As the sherry gets to a certain age and alcohol by volume the yeast dies off allowing the process of oxidation to take over and continue aging without the flor. Some sherry producers will force this by adding distillate to the sherry to kill the flor at a specified time. This complexity is an interesting foil to Glenkinchie’s normally light style.
Tasting Notes: 2021 Glenkinchie The Distillers Edition
Vital Stats: 43% ABV. Distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2021. Aged in American oak and ex-Amontillado Sherry casks.
Appearance: This is a light honey color. Its legs are on the thicker and quicker side.
Nose: There is a lot happening on the nose. I get notes of marzipan, caramel, honey, lemon, toast, and tropical fruit.
Palate: The front of the palate is lost to the alcohol content. I get a bit of honey and caramel on the mid palate. The finish has a slight floral quality with a good amount of spice and touch of sulfur to it. A bit of water opened this up nicely. The honey and caramel move to the front palate, while the mid palate is more robust with flavors of black pepper, raisin, leather, and yeast. The finish has that spice I got straight out of the bottle, but I don’t notice the floral or sulfur notes from before.
For a lowland Scotch I find this is quite robust. While this seems to have nice flavors at individual moments, something about the way they come together is not fully satisfying to me. I tried this with a splash of soda water after my tasting and enjoyed it a lot that way, but I don’t really want to have to do that with a nice distiller’s edition.