Glenkinchie 2023 Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Review


This is the fourth in a series of six reviews. The previous in the series can be found here.


The distilleries involved are what Diageo refers to as The Six Classic Malts and are comprised of Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Oban, and Talisker. Each takes part in the DE program. Today, we’ll explore the 2023 Glenkinchie Distiller’s Edition.


“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.” - Diageo


If you’ve ever tried Johnnie Walker, then you’ve had Glenkinchie. It is one of four Diageo distilleries found in each Johnnie Walker expression, the other three being Cardhu, Clynelish, and Caol Ila.


Glenkinchie was founded in 1837 by brothers John and George Rate in East Lothian. There is some dispute over the exact date, as record-keeping was imperfect, and the brothers had founded a distillery called  Milton in 1825. Some claim the Milton and Glenkinchie distilleries to have been the same. In contrast, others suggest these were in two different locations. Other factors, such as extensive illegal operations in the area, contribute to the uncertainty.


In 1853, the brothers went bankrupt, and the distillery became a sawmill. Just shy of three decades later, the mill was mothballed, and a group of investors led by Major James Grey restored and expanded the distillery and reboot operations. Whisky flowed freely, and in 1914, Glenkinchie formed an alliance with three other Lowland distilleries: Rosebank, St. Magdalene, Grange, and Clydesdale. They called it Scottish Mark Distillers. In 1925, the group merged with Distillers Company Limited, which eventually became Diageo. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that Glenkinchie became a single malt Scotch brand!


Glenkinchie sources water from Lammermuir Hills Spring and utilizes lightly-peated barley for its distillate. Its core offering is Glenkinchie 12-Year, packaged at 43% ABV (86°). The Distiller’s Edition adds a second maturation in Amontillado-seasoned American oak casks and a suggested price of $85.00.


Amontillado is a darker, dry sherry made from Palomino grapes and originates from the Montilla-Moriles region of Spain. It is aged at least two years and typically offers a nutty flavor.


I’m about to #DrinkCurious, but before I do, I must thank Diageo for providing me with a sample in exchange for my no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: I served this Scotch neat in a Glencairn glass. Its color was somewhere between sunflower yellow and topaz, continually morphing as I changed the angle of the glass. A bold rim formed massive, wavy tears.


Nose: The wine's influence was unmistakable as I poured it into my glass. It was as if I opened a bottle of white grape juice. Inside, I smelled citrus, honey, roasted nuts, and oak. I found apples and vanilla when I pulled the vapor through my lips.  


Palate: This whisky’s texture was creamy and relatively thick. Vanilla, toasted nuts, and dried apricots were on the front. The middle featured honey, white grapes, and bananas. I experienced oak tannins, lightly-smoked peat, and orange peel on the back.   


Finish: Dark chocolate and roasted nuts competed with smoky peat and oak. The oak was the last to fade; overall, it was a medium-long duration.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: The 2023 Distiller’s Edition was my introduction to Glenkinchie’s single malt. I love Lowland whiskies; admittedly, the peat was not what I planned for. That’s fine; it was a lovely surprise. At the same time, I was expecting a far drier whisky based on the Amontillado maturation, and that didn’t materialize. However, this was very much an enjoyable pour. I prefer it was slightly less expensive, but that’s not enough to discount my Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.