Drink Review: Glenkinchie 12 Year Old

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Replacing the 10 year-old as the main expression of the Lowland style in the Classic Malts range, this Glenkinchie 12yo is a bit fuller and more complex.

Glenkinchie 12 Review:

Colour: Dark Amber

Nose: Watermelon and black pepper are followed by notes of sweet vanilla and a touch of apricot. The Glenkinchie 12yo is subtler than the 10yo and there’s a touch more elegance to the nose. A good entry, with a bit of red fruit and the ever-present nose-tickler of the peat without the note of ammonia that characterises much of Islay whiskies.

Taste: Rich and earthy with a touch of cocoa and lime. A remarkable malt, gentle mixed fruit with concentrated malts playing alongside. A remarkable malt of exceptional elegance, refined and complex. Not the easiest to find at present – a wonderful whisky, and one worth seeking out on the basis of this initial experience.

Perhaps a little more finely-tuned than the 12-year-old Speyside distillate, the Glenkinchie 12yo represents a refinement, maturity and sophistication. The nose is whiffs of sweetness and fruit, with the typical Highland fruits making an appearance, the red wine fruits of blackberry, cherry and blackcurrant.

This is carried through to the taste, the initial impression of sweetness is replaced by a more subtle mix of fruit and sweetness, with notes of blackcurrants, blackberries, and the fruity fragrances of redcurrants and blackberries. There’s a wonderful balance to this Glenkinchie 12yo, one of the most refined and classically-styled Lowland malts that I’ve experienced.

The water colouring is reflected in the expression that the Glenkinchie 12yo imparts on the palate. It’s beautiful, a deep brown wine, with a hint of the peatiness of the Highland, but in the traditional ‘lowland’ context, a slight element of smokiness, sweet chilli, rich spices, and a touch of sweetness.

The finish is more complex here, like a sea of flavour in all its facets, sweet and alcoholic, peppery, with a hint of smokiness from the peat, but very, very nicely balanced. As I said earlier, this is a remarkable malt with a refined and elegant expression, one that should be enjoyed with friends around a fire.

Ageing the Glenkinchie 12yo, the expression becomes rich and earthy, with touches of chocolate and cinnamon, and a slight smokiness that adds more substance and depth to the Highland fruit, red fruit, and woody, spicy notes.

This is a whisky that I can see taking on a good few decades of age, with the character becoming more of leather, coffee, more sweetness and some fruit, with a flavour that’s very like a Fino Sherry, showing off notes of sherry, tobacco, blackcurrants and elderflowers.

Glenkinchie 12 Review:

Score: 84/100.

A fine expression from the classic, rich, slow and malty Lowland malt.

Food pairing:

This is a malt that needs to be sipped, to be properly enjoyed, and it’s a malt which I’d suggest needs food to further enhance the expression of all the different flavours.

Cooking essential:

The Glenkinchie 12yo is a whisky which would be wonderful served in a glass of water onto which has been placed a finely grounded finely cracked pepper. With a twist of lemon, some lime, smoked paprika and black pepper. A supper to enjoy with your friends around the fire.


lighter, eggy whites, a whisky to enjoy with some slightly oily foods.


red fruit, slightly sweet, acidity.


fruit/smoke, sweets, some sweet chilli.

Trail mix:

fruit/smoke, sweetness, some chilli, smoked paprika, sugar.

An evening of good whisky serves as the perfect reflection of a good evening. A perfect kind of escapism, a fond return to a place of celebration and warmth where friends rub shoulders with the good company, good food and good drink as you reminisce on a good time. It’s the sort of thing that can get frozen time out of your system so that you can return to reality in a better mood.

This is a whisky to enjoy with your soulmate, it’s a whisky to savour and appreciate and to enjoy. I have this whisky in particular in mind as it’s a whisky that enhances the flavour of the food already served, and to the this whisky’s credit, it should be sipped, slowly, not guzzled in a single gulp, but sipped, enjoyed, and savoured.

It’s a malt of rare quality, one of genuine elegance and refinement and one of the finest expressions of the classic Lowland malt expression. It’s not the easiest one of the Classic Malts to find, but the quality of expression is there in spades and for an experienced whisky drinker, definitely worth seeking out.

Refined and elegant, with a subtle interplay of differing notes, a whisky to enjoy with friends around a fire.

It’s a fantastic expression, one of the best Highland malts that I’ve had the privilege to review in recent times. The Glenkinchie 12yo will serve as a fine malt to set against the next month as I look not only at some excellent expression of Highland malt in the Classic Malts range and the various Speyside distillates, but also at some distilled in the Southern Highlands, and indeed some other distilleries.

Written by Mark Adams


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