Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

Glenkinchie 12 Years Old (43%, OB, 2017)

  • Category: Lowland single malts scotch whisky
  • Origin: Glenkinchie Distillery
  • Bottling: Diageo
  • ABV: 43% ABV
  • Cost: £37.33


What they say:

Glenkinchie is just fifteen miles from the capital, earning it the title “The Edinburgh Malt”. But it’s strange to think of that dark and distinguished city when you see fields of barley or the green Lammermuir Hills rolling north towards the Firth of Forth. Stranger still when you taste the subtle, floral flavour of this rare Lowland survivor.

A light, aromatic apéritif

Glenkinchie whisky is perfect as an apéritif or at the start of a meal due to its fragrant, light body. Distilled in Scotland’s largest stills and matured for at least 12 years, the result is a floral whisky with a fresh, creamy taste.

The Glenkinchie distillery

Founded in 1825 by the farmers John and George Rate, Glenkinchie operated under the name Milton Distillery until it was licenced and renamed in 1837. The new name came from the Kinchie Burn which runs through the glen, which itself derives its name from “de Quincey” who originally owned the land and burn. It was later rebuilt into a redbrick Victorian masterpiece you’ll see today, complete houses for the workers, bowling green, those two fat old copper pot stills and the largest wash still in the industry. A traditional single cast-iron worm tub cools the spirit, in preference to a more modern condenser, giving a whisky of greater character and depth.

Subtly sophisticated

South and East of Edinburgh lies the farming country of East Lothian, its barley fed by water softly flowing down from the hills. Glenkinchie is the undisputed champion of the light Lowland style. With its interesting visitor centre and charming setting, this also makes an ideal first distillery visit if you find yourself ready for a break from Auld Reekie.

Official tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Bright gold.
  • Nose: Very aromatic and flowery overall, like breathing in a country garden. Noticeable vanilla, cut flowers (daffodil, blossom and hints of lily) and beneath these, a clean, toasty note. Becomes increasingly sweet and creamy, with a lightly aromatic edge and fresh citrus, which all brings to mind lemon cheesecake. Water makes it still more creamy and scented.
  • Taste: In brief… Glenkinchie at its best. In a sentence… A smooth, gently appetising Lowlander; flowery, ‘perfect for a picnic.’
  • Palate:: A sweet soft start, like crême anglaise, soon becoming flowery again. A really smooth delivery, especially after adding a drop of water. The mid-palate is crisp and then the flavour settles into a tightly focused bundle of butter icing, lemon cheesecake and freesias.
  • Finish: Herbal and drying, a little like potpourri.


What I say:

Diageo’s remaining active Lowland distillery is situated in the beautiful rolling hills of Pencaitland in East Lothian, just a stones throw from Edinburgh.

Another visit and a tour ended in sampling this again, which is exactly what I am attempting to do for our Back 2 Basics 2018 campaign. As I was sampling at the distillery I have estimated this as bottled in 2017.

My original bottle bought from the distillery was from around 2011, I forgot I also have a 20cl bottle somewhere from around 2014 I should dig out for comparison, review coming soon.

Distilled at Glenkinchie matured solely in American oak ex-bourbon hogsheads for a minimum of 12 years.

My tasting notes:

  • Appearance: Soave wine / bright gold (4/20), thick legs, rare slow-forming large tears
  • Nose: Equipped with a recent distillery visit I noticed in here distinct scents of each of the processes, the gristy cereals from the mashtun, the sweet esters from the washback, and that malty marmite aroma from the floor of the stillhouse. This is sweet, with vanilla and daisy flowers as well as citric on the nose, dry and grassy and also a strong ‘yeasty’ bread dough or beer fermenting aroma, lemon cheesecake sums it up, add in white pepper and some gentle but ripe apples and pears.
  • Taste: Sweet initially, still a little sherbet but with more sugars than I remember, caramel, slightly toasty – woody sugars, creamy, lemon and a touch of lime, that yeasty element returns, which adds to the dried barley and grassy sensation, Soreen malt loaf with a light spread of butter and thick lemon curd.
  • Finish: Medium-long, sweet but also an acridity or bitterness to it that persists, burnt caramel perhaps? golden syrup, slightly drying


Much more to this than I remember, there does seem to be a much better depth to this whisky I hadn’t appreciated before and a real yeasty/fermentation note that I actually rather like.

This has risen rather rapidly in my estimation!

Score 83/100

Don’t take my word for it:

Malt and Oak review Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

TOModera’s Whisky Reviews Glenkinchie 12 Years Old

Bloggers submit link to your review

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