Glenkiniche is one of the few remaining Lowland malt distilleries and the only one remaining in Diageo's portfolio after their forerunner, DLC, axed a number of Lowland distilleries in the 1980s and 1990s. They may have decided to consolidate their Lowland resources into Glenkinchie because, unlike so many other distilleries, it was located near a large city. The distillery is only a 15 miles drive from the center of Edinburgh, which makes it very convenient for visitors. For that reason, Diageo has made the visitor center at Glenkinchie very comprehensive, as it may be the only one of their distilleries that many people traveling to Scotland have an opportunity to see.
I'll defer to Malt Madness for the history of Glenkinchie, which seems to be both complicated and disputed.
Glenkinchie 12 Year
Nose: rather floral (grows with time), vegetal notes, vanilla, a bit of creamy perfumed sherry and cacao, malt, gentle caramel. After adding a few drops of water, it becomes more malt-focused but flatter, with some cinnamon bark and black pepper coming out, there are fewer floral/perfume notes, more vanilla and fruit come out, and the sherry is lighter.
Taste: a strong attack - initially sweet with big pepper/ginger coming in with a sour sherried tinge mid-palate, perfume/floral notes come in near the back alongside bitter tannic oak and cacao, with creamy malt riding under everything. After dilution, the pepper retreats significantly to reveal more vegetal malt sweetness, there is less floral character but the sourness remains, and some vanilla pops out up front.
Finish: sour and bitter vegetal/herbal notes that seem strangely off (decomposed grass clippings?), malt, black pepper, oak, a bit of sherry, perfume. After dilution, the vegetal off notes just get worse and it gets a strange metallic aftertaste.
It may just be my palate, but this whisky just seems wrong. The nose is decent, if unremarkable. The taste doesn't do much for me, but isn't patently offensive. The finish is where it all falls apart - 'decomposed grass clippings' is not a phrase that should be describing a whisky being sold for actual money. I know Diageo doesn't particularly care about its single malts, as most of what Glenkinchie produces will simply go into blends, but this one seems downright shameful. There's no sense of care or quality in its construction, just something slapped together. Unless something is fundamentally wrong at the distillery, there's no reason to be putting out such a bad product.
I was very glad to only have a 200 mL bottle of this whisky as I could barely even make it through that much, though it also let me suffer through it enough times to be sure that it wasn't just a singular impression. With that said, people clearly do buy this whisky, so it must have something to recommend it to others. I'll just state that you should probably try some before buying a bottle, in case you respond the same way to it that I did.
12 hours ago