* Prices may differ from that shown
Glenkinchie is one of a relatively rare breed - a ‘Lowland Malt’ available easily, and the distillery is in the village of Pencaitland in East Lothian, only about 10 miles to the east of Edinburgh. Other Malt Whisky distilleries are a long way off from the Capital. In the opinion I wrote on ‘Highland Park’ Malt Whisky, I described how it is that I know something about a number of Scotch whiskys. As most of you should be aware, Scottish Malt Whisky is made from malted barley and, when I started working as the Edinburgh City Analyst/Lothian Public Analyst, I was not aware that there was a Malt Whisky distillery in the Lothian Region. I was certainly aware of the grain whisky distillery in Edinburgh, with grain whisky being used for blending with malt whisky to produce the (common) blended scotch whisky. I suppose that I should have guessed that there was a distillery in East Lothian, since I would often have barley samples submitted to me from the area for ‘referee analysis’. It was only by accident in a 1989 that I found out that a ‘Glenkinchie’ Malt Whisky was being bottled and sold (initially for export but then for the home market) from this distillery in Pencaitland. You see what many people don’t realise is that there are a large number of distilleries in Scotland where the malt whisky produced is not generally sold in bottles. Almost all of this production is matured and held in bond until required for blending. It is only in malt whisky distilleries which have been designated to have at least part of their production bottled and sold as such, that produce significant volumes of the liquor for open sale. There are three other circumstances (which I am aware of) where you can, on occasions, buy some (usually especially choice) productions. The first of these is where a group of enthusiasts will buy a ‘barrel’ of a particular malt a
nd have it bottled for themselves. There are a variety of such ‘clubs’. They are not to my taste. If I particularly enjoy a malt, I will want to buy several bottles (particularly for ‘presents’), and such short scale bottlings are expensive and of very limited production. I have even ‘tasted’ some from these 'clubs' that have been ‘rather poor’ and passed comment that they are more suitable for 'de-greasing car engines' than for human consumption. The second is where a distillery that normally has all of its production directed towards blending (or for the export market) may have a surplus of (say) a 10 year old Malt Whisky which they decide to bottle and sell on the home market. Good examples of these are ‘Linkwood’ and ‘Longmorn’, both of which I buy avidly if they are on general sale at a reasonable price. Naturally, you can buy most of these ‘specials’ from a specialist shop (of which there are a few in Scotland) or from a Distillery Shop, but they can be significantly more expensive than getting them from the Co-op or Makro. The latter (Makro) did an excellent deal on 15 years old Longmorn for Xmas 1999 (45% volume). They brought a number of murmurs of approbation from my lucky clients that Xmas, and I still have a full bottle stored in the dark, which I shall breach at the appropriate time. The third is where a distillery produces a ‘special edition’. For example, I still have a 'smidgen’ of “Royal Wedding Reserve” (bottle number 327/1000), but watch out for my ‘Glen Grant’ opinion for more of that. This has the same potential disadvantages as the first. Anyway, back to Glenkinchie. Having ‘discovered’ it, I (quite naturally) mentioned it in my annual report to the Regional Council. Were the Councillors at that Committee meeting enthus
iastic !!. Trips to the distillery were quickly arranged, drams quaffed, and a very good relationship established with the Distillery and the United Distillers company. If you now read the Glenkinchie label, it says, quite prominently “THE EDINBURGH MALT”, and a goodly stock is kept in the City Council’s stockroom as presents for visiting ‘dignitaries’. I myself have been present when the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mickael Gorbachov, Ted Heath, Joan Bakewell, Cardinal Winning, several other Archbishops(& so on) were presented with a bottle of the beautiful fluid at official doos by the Convenor (and later the Lord Provost). It is gratifying (and 'warming') to think that I had at least a ‘small part’ in initiating this link and thus the ‘tradition’, that has developed. Now, to the main business. The flavour of Glenkinchie is ‘light’ and very smooth. It is very distinctive and is definitely the one that I would recommend to the ladies and to the ‘malt whisky virgins’ among yoo. It is the only one that Heather really enjoys (on occasions). The flavour has a slight ‘sweetness’ and it does linger, lightly on the palate. I do not think is correct to drink if you have eaten a strongly favoured meal or are drinking strong coffee. I would certainly classify it very much as the type of whisky where you open the bottle when you are with a group of friends and, as I have recommended before, throw the cork deliberately over your shoulder (for the cat to play with). Very few fail to like it. A quick word on the use of water to dilute whisky for tasting. On occasions, I may add about 25% water to my whisky, and professional tasters add about 50%. With some brands it helps to bring out the flavour, with others this will 'deaden' it. I always leave that to the individual concerned.
However, you should be careful about the water you use. Bottled Mineral Water is not real 'mineral water' in that it is usually relatively 'pure' water and low in mineral content. However, there now some brands which contain relatively high levels of calcium, and such waters would not be recommended for drinking with whisky. The same reservation applies to tap water. When whisky is mixed with water containing certain minerals, the minerals can be 'precipitated', so that the resultant mixture becomes cloudy and not so 'appealing'. With one mineral water I was testing from the Scottish Borders, where this (specail sidneygee test occured, the precipitate was minute crystals of previously dissolved silica from the water. In extreme consditions (where there is a high iron content - not unusual in the Highlands), an unpleasant 'green tinge' can also develop. Best always to try sipping it 'neat' first. Use a 'normal' still bottled mineral water if you really must. Alcohol Content 43% VOL Try and Enjoy ! A good introduction to the Malt Whisky Experience. Copyright Sidneygee 2001
A typical Lowland Malt, Glenkinchie is delicate, smooth and slightly spicy.