Somehow I completely forgot that I also had a miniature of Glen Garioch 12 Year when I reviewed the Vintage 1997 and neglected to taste them side by side. Hopefully my memory holds up well enough to make some sort of comparison.
This whisky was filled into ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks (though I expect much more of the former than the latter), then bottled at 48% without chill filtration.
I purchased this miniature from The Whisky Exchange in 2012.
Glen Garioch 12 Year
Nose: pleasant bourbon cask influence - caramel, moderate oak, a little vanilla, honey, orange blossom, citrus peel, somewhat savory, clean malt, fresh grapes, raisins, and berry preserves. After adding a few drops of water it gets maltier and sweeter, the cask influence diminishes, and the savoriness is amplified.
Taste: pleasant malty sweetness up front, a burst of mixed fruit in the middle, then a slide into savory but not particularly tannic oak with a touch of vanilla at the back. After dilution the flavors merge and spread out so they all arrive together, the fruit is amplified, and the oak gets stronger.
Finish: lightly tannic/savory oak, clean malt, a touch of mixed fruit
While not quite as characterful as the 1997, this is something that you can't find in many other places (Ben Nevis, maybe) - the savory character coupled with just enough fruit and a little bit of oak. While I could be happy with maybe 10-20% refill sherry casks to make it just a bit more complex, the undiluted bourbon cask character is a pleasant treat. I also wish they would bring back their lightly peated floor malt, which would also go a long way towards increasing the complexity without covering up the parts that make it so good. Those quibbles aside, I would still recommend this whisky. It's on the expensive side in my neck of the woods (~$60), but closer to the average price ($50 per Wine Searcher) and at 48% you're still getting a good deal.
7 hours ago