REECE SIMS Reece Sims is a former award-winning Vancouver-based bartender who holds her WSET Level 3, Executive Bourbon Stewardship Certification, and has completed courses at the Irish Distilling Academy. After years of writing about whisk(e)y on WhiskeyMuse.com she recently created the Reverse Tasting Method: Whisk(e)y Sensory Program. Connect with her @reecesims or @whiskeymuse
There are over two dozen distilleries in Scotland using Glen in their name... their namesake does not actually come from one man, but instead has geographic origins, with the term Glen meaning “valley” in Gaelic.
H ave you ever noticed that there are a lot of distilleries in Scotland that have Glen in their name? Who exactly is this “Glen” and why is he so popular? There are over two dozen distilleries in Scotland using Glen in their name (and even a few outside of Scotland), however, their namesake does not actually come from one man, but instead has geographic origins, with the term glen meaning “valley” in Gaelic. So how does one tell one Glen from another? Let’s explore some of the better known Glen distilleries, how to pronounce their names, as well as their house styles of single malt Scotch making. Rough Pronunciation Despite being owned by French alcohol beverage company Pernod Ricard, Glenlivet is pronounced glen- liv-it not glen-lee-vay as one might believe. Named after the glen from which the River Livet flows in the Scottish Highlands, Glenlivet is known for producing single malt whiskies that are bursting with summer fruits and spring florals. Approachable for new and experienced single malt Scotch drinkers alike, it should be no
surprise that Glenlivet is one of the top‑selling single malts in Scotland. While Glenlivet’s name comes from Scottish Gaelic origins, Glen Garioch takes its namesake from Doric, the Mid North Scots and Northeast Scots dialect. Garioch, which is pronounced geery , loosely translates to “rough howe,” and describes the landscape of the region. Despite it sounding quite literally rough, in the region, the rolling hills are actually richly fertile, producing an abundance of cereal crops. Creamy cereal notes are at the forefront of key flavours with Glen Garioch’s house style followed by honeyed sweetness, apples and hints of nuttiness. Unlike Glen Garioch, if you’ve heard of the Loch Ness monster before, you’ll know that the “ ch ” in this mythical creature’s name is pronounced like a “ k .” The same goes for the “ ch ” in Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich, pronounced glen-fid-ick , means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic and was founded in 1886 by William Grant in Dufftown, Scotland. While the distillery is not the oldest in Scotland, they do boast having the Scotch is My Spirit Animal
“original single malt” whisky. Starting in 1963, Glenfiddich began labelling their bottles with the term “straight malt,” an expression which brought single malt to the world as it’s known today. As one of the top two producing single malt distilleries today, Glenfiddich’s triangular bottles, adorned with the iconic stag logo, can be found at most bars and restaurants. Their house style is fruity and floral with a distinctive pear note, making it a crowd-pleaser. Also fragrant, fruity and floral, Glenmorangie has long considered the giraffe as its spirit animal. Pronounced glen-maw-ruhn-jee, this distillery’s name means “vale of tranquility” in Gaelic. Sure, giraffes are tranquil creatures, but their connection to Glenmorangie comes from the height of their stills, which are the same height as an adult male giraffe’s neck. What does this mean for their house style of whisky making? The tall stills create a lighter, more versatile distillate which bodes well with the many styles and types of casks used during maturation. Glenfiddich may have been the first to label their Scotch as a single malt, but Glenmorangie was one of the first to pioneer cask finishing of single malt whiskies.
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