Tasting Notes: Glenkinchie – 12 Years Old

Here we have one of Diageo’s flagship releases within their ‘Classic Malts’ series – the Glenkinchie 12 year old. Pronounced “glen-kin-chee” rather than “glen-kinky”, this single malt represents Diageo’s more readily-available ‘Lowlands’ scotch offering, originating from the Glenkinchie distillery in East Lothian. Though it is based some 15 miles or so from the Scottish capital, the whisky is branded as “The Edinburgh Malt” and the distillery actually put on a regular minibus from the city centre to take tourists, punters and whisky-nerds alike to visit the site [ed: the visitor centre is currently undergoing a large refurb, with an intended launch date in May 2020!]. The 12yo is the sole regular single malt output from the distillery, with an annual Distiller’s Edition released, usually demonstrating the effects of a final Amontillado cask finish on this base malt. The distillery has also had several single malt expressions released as part of Diageo’s Special Releases. The flagship 12yo single malt whisky is bottled at 43% ABV and currently available ca. £40 per bottle.

Glenkinchie 12 Year Old


There’s a sweet, delicate and floral smell to this straight off the bat. It makes me instantly think of pear drop sweets and apple pies. There’s little-to-no nose prickle from the booze itself, despite being 43% ABV. There’s a good grassy/hay-like dryness and smell to it too – very much like the straw-like colour of the whisky itself. It’s quite nutty too, with some spices – cardamom maybe? Ginger and pepper for sure.


An initial, little alcoholic rasp makes way for apple-based pudding flavours – as it continues it even reminds me of some lemon drizzle cake with a little oaky zing to round it out – all those flavours however are fairly delicate overall and sit around the periphery to the big (single) malty focus.


As you drink this down there is unfortunately very little left flavour-wise – the spirit leaving us with just an oaky spice and tingle that fizzles itself out in its own sweet time.


I’m not sure if I’m just being swayed by it being called a ‘Lowlands’ whisky and the lighter flavour connotations that moniker traditionally infers, but this is indeed one of the lighter and easier single malt scotch whiskies that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. And that is dangerous! Even more dangerous maybe would be to refer to the lowlands’ traditional (and less-than-PC) nickname as a “lady’s dram”. It’s delicate, and let’s leave it at that! It actually comes with a serving suggestion of accompanying a fish dish. which sounds like a good shout to me, as it is all about the lighter whisky flavours. Maybe even a splash could go into your Cullen Skink! That may dissuade you if you are someone looking for a big bold whisky, in which case this is not for you, but it is more like a spirit that could replace a white wine. It has all the hallmarks of a light white wine, come to think of it. Despite those delicate flavours though, the true character here is the gentle grist/malt, which plays its role as king surrounded by its many single malt flavour subjects. A sweet and simple sipper overall – a midweeker for the more frequent drammer.


4 thoughts on “Tasting Notes: Glenkinchie – 12 Years Old

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  1. Great with smoked salmon and/ or goats cheese appetisers. Even better if you sprinkle just a few drops onto the salmon about half an hour before you use it!

    Liked by 1 person

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