Glen Keith / GlenIsla


Glen Keith distillery was founded as late as 1957 with building work being finished and the distillery beginning production in 1960. It lies on the river Isla very close to Strathisla distillery in Keith, Banffshire, Speyside.

It was built by Seagram (Pernod Ricard since 2001) but sadly, they mothballed the distillery in 1999 after a short life of less than 40 years of production.

Glen Keith has been renovated and expanded to produce 6m lpa p/a and reopened in June 2013


Most of single malt output from Glen Keith was indeed bottled as "Glen Keith", however, some slightly peated expressions were released as "Glenisla", although there is some discussion and confusion about this label.


Glenisla was a slightly peated expression produced at the Glen Keith Distillery.


  Some more great distillery info here, thanks to Malt Madness  

My thanks to Teun van Wel for the photos and permission to use them.



  Glen Keith

General whisky characteristics: Fruit and wild flowers


Glen Keith,  21y, distilled 1967

This was a sample I was given without exact bottler details, but it could have been the G&M bottling

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Spiegelau

Nose: This is so intense, the Spiegelau glass is working wonders compared to the Bugatti, Signatory or even the Glencairn. The nose is extremely complex with a mixture of fruit and wild flowers and maybe some apricot, slight marzipan, a little gentle toffee, or is it butterscotch? There are also some alpine herbs and flowers in there amongst the Scottish moss and heather. The more I nose, the more I now begin to find an extra dimension which is almost medicinal. Not in a Laphroaig kind of way, but slightly more gentle. Oh boy, I could sit here nosing this for a day or two, this is so good! Perhaps the only thing in my experience which has come close to this was a wonderful Rosebank many years ago.

Palate: The first sip concentrates the herbs on the front of the tongue whilst the sides of the tongue and inner cheeks water with delight. The initial flavour is of herbs with slight spice in an almond / marzipan kind of way. This is smooth, very smooth and offers lots of palatable luxury which almost spreads into a cream toffee flavour over time. My second taste develops much more of the martzipan and toffee flavours and no herbs at all. In fact, the more I think about this, the more I think of nuts! Amazing, the flavours are intense and concentrate almost exclusively on the front and middle of the palate, leaving the back almost completely clear.

Finish: Long, very long and very pleasant with plenty of nut and toffee flavours. This does have a strong taste, but in an extremely kind and gentle way.

With 2 drops of water: The nose finds another dimension. The herbs have receded and are replaced by slightly medicinal hazelnuts in a bed of fresh straw. The 2 drops of water have also transformed the flavour in a way that I would never have expected as It becomes even more smooth and creamy, losing some of the potency of the nuttiness.

Overall Impression: This is a true great. I would have to say it is one of the best 5 or 6 whiskies I have ever tried. OK, so my own experience is limited, but I can recognise a great when I try it and this is one of them. Do I prefer it with the drops of water, maybe I do. But either way, I want more of this and I feel I just may be disappointed as if I find any, it may be just too expensive for my pocket. It's a good job I have another sample to revisit later.



Malts of Scotland, Glen Keith, 28.9.1970-2.2011, 49.1% ABV

Bourbon Hogshead Cask No.6042, one of 192 bottles

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Shiny (yellow) gold

Nose: Extremely floral oak which just keeps on expanding. Yes, this is very very aromatic and eventually offers hints of malty butterscotch amongst the flora. Maybe even a touch of baked apple and banana too?

Palate: Bitter - sweet? I detect a slightly bitter fruitiness alongside sweet flora, chocolate, a hint of coffee beans and some vanilla.

Finish: Long and bitter sweet.

Overall Impression: Interesting, very interesting with those bitter - sweet qualities.



A.D.Rattray, Glen Keith, 55.4% ABV

Bourbon Hogshead

Original cost of this bottle; Unknown


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Very pale yellow

Nose: Initial suggestion of vanilla soon leads into a very mild hint of new shoes (or trainers) with shoe leather or maybe even rubber soles but this is extremely faint and in the background. Then follows another faint suggestion of burning, perhaps bonfire or BBQ embers.

Palate: This starts with a very smooth, creamy mouth-feel, then as it expands across the palate it gets richer with suggestions of banana, freshly baked breaad or even pancake.

Finish: Long with that creamy vanilla-ness.

Overall Impression: Full of mild and mellow richness. I really like this one.





General whisky characteristics: Wood, hay, grasses, slightly farmy


Glenisla,  28y, 1977, 48.8% ABV

Signatory "Cask Strength" collection, one of 276 bottles

Single Cask; Hogshead 19601, distilled 7.7.77, bottled 29.3.2006

Typical cost of this bottle;


Glass: Classic Malt

Colour: Pale (yellow) gold

Nose: Initially very faint, then slowly building to include hay and grasses. This continues to 'grow' and intensify over some minutes. Eventually it exhibits some farmy notes, but mostly reminiscent of a chicken coop or free-range hen run.

Palate: Some green peppercorn, faintly nutty, slightly farmy with grasses alongside a hint of wood.

With 4 drops of water: Now a more rounded nose with grasses and nuts, but still lightly farmy. The palate is smoother with less pepper, but still containing nuts and hay. Very warming.

With 4 more drops of water: An even more rounded nose with a great waft of toast or maybe even crumpets.

Finish: Medium, slightly longer with water. Some raspberries right at the end when water is added.

Overall Impression: This is sligthly farmy with an initial 'chicken coop' nose but it's still very interesting and certainly not a bad whisky, although it isn't a 'great' either. Slightly better with the water added.










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