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Founded in 1833, Glengoyne distillery straddles the boundary between two whisky regions, with spirit running from pot stills that stand in the highlands yet aging in oak casks that rest in Lowland warehouses. Such proximity to the population centres of the central belt and the blending houses of Glasgow would have been of significant benefit to any distillery but the operation at Glengoyne was enhanced further by this qualification as a highland distillery, which brought with it significant tax breaks.
Today, Glengoyne is owned by Ian MacLeod Distillers who recently announced they were to rebuild and reopen Rosebank distillery in Falkirk. This move will increase the organisation’s distillery portfolio to three, with the excellent Tamdhu in Speyside completing the lineup.
Glengoyne is one of the most accessible distilleries in Scotland. A 50 minute bus journey from Glasgow will drop you right at the gates, yet despite this proximity to the largest city in the country, the small cluster of distillery buildings are completely surrounded on all sides by rugged countryside and huddle together at the foot of Dumgoyne hill, a 427m volcanic plug that once acted as a lookout point for the illicit distillers that plied their trade in the valley below.
Frequent tours of the distillery run throughout the day and when I visited in early February I found a site brimming with tourists, due at least in part, to French Rugby fans in the country for the six nations fixture the following day. In truth, it was a little too busy for my liking, three different groups occupied the still-house at the same time and it made hearing the guide a little difficult. Fortunately, I had visited Glengoyne before but others weren’t so lucky. Of course I understand that Glengoyne are only trying to meet demand and don’t want to turn people away but I’m sure the experience would have been a better one had the tours been spaced out a little more.
Nonetheless, Glengoyne is a well maintained and attractive distillery, crowned by three magnificent copper stills that produce a famously unpeated spirit. The tour concluded with a tasting of three drams… an 18 year old, 21 year old and a Cask Strength expression. Each was a fine dram in its own right, with the 18 in particular standing out, but considering my focus on the affordable side of the market, I opted to purchase a bottle of the Cask Strength. Bottled at 59.1% abv, it is available in the UK for around £50.
Smell: Vanilla, Cream & Honey. Biscuit, touch of Sherry, Banana, Apple and Pear.
Taste: Salted Caramel, Oak, Malt, Biscuit, Lemon, Pepper and Vanilla.
Value for Money: Great buy at just £50 a bottle.
This cask strength Glengoyne is up there with the best the distillery can produce. A robust dram of extraordinary flavour at a very reasonable price. Great stuff.