Glengoyne lies just north of Glasgow at the foot of Dumgoyne Hill. Although founded in 1833, it is likely that illicit distilling was taking place long before then. Certainly, the hills and forests in the area provided an ideal hiding place from the prying eyes of the excisemen until the Edmonstone family applied for a license to build their Burnfoot distillery. Later, under the ownership of Lang Bros. the name was changed to Glen Guin and eventually anglicised to Glengoyne. Then in 2003, a new era began when the distillery was purchased by Ian Macleod for £7.2m.
Glengoyne is a Highland malt – but only just… The distillery operates north of the ‘Highland Line’ while the spirit ages in warehouses to the south, in the Lowlands. The separation of the two regions was first declared in the 1784 ‘Wash Act’ by a government desperately seeking to clamp down on illegal distilling, so rife in the highlands. To tempt the rebellious highlanders into going legitimate, tax breaks were offered to any who took out a license in these remote areas. In order to do this, they would have to clearly define Highland from the Lowland. So with this in mind, a line was drawn from Greenock in the west to Dundee in the east. Distilleries operating north of the line were to be considered ‘Highland’ and therefore eligible for reduced excise duty. This made Glengoyne’s location perfect – close to Glasgow and all it’s transport links whilst also enjoying the reduced taxes that came with distilling in the Highlands.
Today, Glengoyne prides itself on taking it’s time. They operate a long fermentation and slow distillation in order to produce a lighter, sweeter spirit. There is no peat smoke here – Glengoyne barley is dried using warm air alone. What you smell and taste is the character of the spirit, the wood it is matured in and nothing more. A mixture of bourbon and sherry casks are used, with the percentage of sherry wood generally increasing further up the age range. The core expressions are 10 year old, 12 year old, 15 year old, 18 year old, 21 year old, 25 year old and Cask Strength.
Glengoyne’s 15 Year Old malt is bottled at 43% ABV and is available for around £45 – £50. The nose is very Malty with Honey, Lemon, Toffee and some subtle Sherry. On the palate there’s Vanilla, Honeycomb and Popcorn with a little Orange and a touch of Chocolate.
The Scores: About the Scoring System…
Smell: Wonderfully malty – nice to detect such a strong presence of the raw ingredient.
Taste: Nice balance between the subtle flavours of the Bourbon Barrels and the delicate Sherry influence.
Value for Money: When I’m paying around £50 for a bottle I prefer to be getting something a little higher in strength but it doesn’t detract from this being a fine dram. No gimmicks or flashy finishes, just well matured, subtle and refined whisky that oozes class and sophistication.
Overall: 42 / 50