The Glengoyne distillery has been in continuous operation since 1833, during which it has maintained an unsurpassed standard of excellence. In fact, they still make their famed single malts in the exact same way that they did 180 years ago. The traditional methods and techniques employed haven't changed, even though most distillers have discontinued them as too labor- and cost-intensive. For the craftsmen at Glengoyne, it's about distilling slowly and securing the finest oak casks in which to mature their whiskies. Excellence can't be rushed, nor is there a shortcut to greatness. There's simply no other way to produce a whisky as superb as Glengoyne 15 Years Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
The Glengoyne Distillery is situated in a wooded valley in the southern Highlands of Scotland and takes its name from "Glen Guin" or "Glen of the Wild Geese." The process used to make their malts begins with the germination of the barley. The seeds are steeped in water for several days. After they have absorbed as much moisture as they can, the barley is spread out over the distillery's malting floor and dried using warm air.
The malted barley is then milled before being repeatedly washed in hot water to extract the fermentable sugars from the grain. Yeast is introduced to the sugared wash—called worts—and is then slowly fermented, filtered and chilled.
The final step is distillation. The fermented wash is first distilled in the appropriately named wash still and then in the smaller spirits still. The configuration of each still is unique and contributes greatly to the character of the finished whisky. Only the middle cut of the final distillation run is selected for maturation. One of the singular aspects of how Glengoyne crafts its whiskies is that they nurse the alcohol through the stills remarkably slowly, this to prolong the amount of time the liquid is in contact with the still's copper interior.
The final step is maturing the spirits in oak. Glengoyne uses exclusively barrels that previously aged sherry. The staves of the barrels were dried for three years prior to being filled with Oloroso sherry. The entire process requires a minimum of six years before the first drop of single malt whisky is laid to rest.
The Glengoyne 15 Years Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 43% alcohol (86 proof), is a triumphant dram that deftly makes the case that excellence in character cannot be rushed. The whisky has a deep amber hue, a lushly textured, medium-weight body and a wafting fruit, sherry, maple and malty nose. Its aromatics alone make the whisky well worth the purchase price. The gentle entry quickly expands filling the mouth with a delectable array of flavors including chocolate, maple, malt, red apples, almonds and heather honey. As you would hope, the finish is long, spicy and velvety smooth.
The Glengoyne 18 Years Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is comprised largely of whiskies matured at least 18 years in first-fill Oloroso sherry casks. The dark amber malt, 43% alcohol (86 proof), has a flawless, medium-weight body and a generous nose of citrus, grapefruit and red plums. The elegant whisky has a palate laced with baking spice, vanilla, toffee, almonds and red apples with sherry and malty notes. The lingering finish is warm and comforting.
The youngest expression in the portfolio is the Glengoyne 10 Years Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Exuberant compared to the previously mentioned releases, the Glengoyne 10 Years Old, 40% alcohol (80 proof), is an eminently enjoyable malt with a pale gold hue, a silky lightweight body and a fruit, honey, vanilla and lightly floral nose. The palate is a well-balanced medley of semisweet sherry, barley malt, dried herbs, honey and a dash of vanilla. The finish is spicy and warm.
Those looking for an example of affordable luxury need look no further than Glengoyne 12 Years Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It has a lovely, oak-induced golden hue, a sleek medium-weight body and a brilliant citrus, fruit, caramel and sherry bouquet with a wisp of toasted oak. The malt, 43% alcohol (86 proof), is brimming with flavor, a lavish assortment toffee, vanilla, red fruit, barley malt and baking spice. Its long, lingering finish is sublime.
The elder statesman of the range is Glengoyne 21 Years Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. It's a noble whisky with a deep amber/mahogany hue and a nose graced with the aromas of sherry, nutmeg, baked apples, dark chocolate and lilting floral notes. The malt has a gentle entry as it bathes the palate with nutty, spicy, toffee, citrus, honey, anise and dried fruit flavor. The finish is unforgettable.
Scotch drinkers thrive on discovery. One of the remarkable ports of call on that voyage is undoubtedly the famed Highland malts of Glengoyne. These whiskies should be on every malt lover's bucket list.