Here's what we're drinking, and you should too.
Here's what we're drinking, and you should too.
The Glenlivet. Or The Real Glenlivet. There’s not much I can say about the distillery that hasn’t already been written somewhere. The distillery was established in 1824 and has generally been killing it since. So much so that until The Glenlivet fought for it, many whisky brands appended “Glenlivet” to their name just to try and get some positive glow from the brand name affiliation. Even Macallan did it. But that was then and this is now. Does the legend hold?
The Glenlivet 15 Year French Oak Reserve
After several years of success with the 16 year old Nàdurra (Gaelic for “natural”), Glenlivet has recently released to the US a 1991 vintage (18 year old) variant malted exclusively from the Triumph two-row barley varietal. Apparently, Glenlivet no longer sources the Triumph barley for its whiskies, so this limited edition release is all the more exclusive. Still, it retails for between $75 and $85, so it is relatively affordable as well. Cheers to that.
Glenlivet Nàdurra Triumph 1991
Abv: 48% Color:
[WhiskyParty]: A light chardonnay.
[StrongLikeCask]: Light yellow gold.
[DodgyDrammer]: Golden blonde.
[StrongLikeCask]: Not very well defined. But, small-ish and medium speed.
[DodgyDrammer]: Super slow, long, and tight, but kind of all over the place.
[WhiskyParty]: Harsh out of the bottle, but it opens up quickly revealing fruits, a little spice, and maybe a touch of peppermint in the background?
[StrongLikeCask]: Dark maraschino cherries is huge on here, slight citrus. Candy and lots of juicy fruit (I think of dripping things like apples and plums, not the bubble gum). I know that fresh fruit isn’t candied, but there’s lots of candied sweetness here. Slight vanillin that comes in late and behind. There’s something slightly harsh up front - maybe a little bit of nail polish remover?
[DodgyDrammer]: Honey, wax candies, vanilla bean, cooked pears, rich and sweet honeydew, and a whiff of brown sugar and toasted oak; big, strong, and full of complexity.
[WhiskyParty]: Still a touch hot. Mango, pineapple, and tropical fruits fight their way out of the heat.
[StrongLikeCask]: Immediately sweet, though lighter than the nose would suggest. Coming from beneath is a wallop of wood that teases you with that same hint of vanillin. Almost immediately after that comes the spice.
[DodgyDrammer]: Wild honey, and then a delicate oakiness winds its way through the malt and fruits (tangerines), turning eventually to cinnamon and sugar before the finish.
[DodgyDrammer]: Substantial; a bit creamy while being full of potency and texture; the 48% abv and non-chillfiltering really seem to make this whisky happen.
[WhiskyParty]: Vanilla on the end.
[StrongLikeCask]: Long. Really long; maybe the longest I’ve tasted for something not with peat smoke. It changes pretty immediately from slight sweetness to a chewy wood. The texture it evokes is pulpy. This flavor then evolves into some sweet spice. It’s this spice that lingers. Cloves and cinnamon. And then almost a peppery buzzing on the tongue. Once the pepper resides, it’s a non-cloying, non sticky sweetness that is left.
[DodgyDrammer]: Just as the marvelous palate starts to give way, the toasted oak and vanilla finish comes through like gangbusters; long and strong, and very satisfying.
[WhiskyParty]: Less floral than the regular Glenlivet 12, and the fruits of more tropical than in its sister-expression. The vanilla also has a higher profile. I wonder if a tiny splash of water might have really opened up the fruits. Overall, it’s a good solid dram. I’ve had better whisky at the $85/bottle price tag, and my flavor profile leans more towards the Islands, but this is a dram that will disappoint few Scotch drinkers.
[StrongLikeCask]: I really enjoyed this. The scent of maraschino cherries on the nose is uncanny and deliciously strong. So, maybe I’m biased because I have a soft spot for both Old Fashioneds and Shirley Temples, but I could really nose this all day. The taste is also very delicious, but perhaps on its own, unlike the nose, nothing too special. I’d say what stands out for me is how immediately the taste profiles change from sweet, to textured and woody, to spice. You can taste it happening, but you don’t expect them to get so well defined. The pepper and length on the finish really surprised me (in a good way), too. This is a solid and well crafted whisky. I may need to find a way to fit a bottle into my budget (if I can still find one).
[DodgyDrammer]: The big flavours come through strong; the wood is very well integrated, however. Really a nice body on it, and very tasty, with a great nose and tremendous finish. It compares well, in my opinion, with similarly priced 18 year olds, but has a unique texture and flavour that separate it from the pack. And at $75-85, what’s not to like? In Chicagoland it’s available for $85 at Binny’s.
Other Opinions: Generally well-received, the excellent texture, citric a/o tropical fruits, pleasantly mingling wood, and honey seem to find their way into most reviews of this newly released Speyside.
We’d like to thank Sara Bigelow and The Glenlivet for providing all samples tasted for this review.
It’s amazing that it has taken us even this long to taste this whisky, but today’s entry in our growing collection of 40 Whiskies Under $40 is a whisky known throughout the world - The Glenlivet 12.
The Glenlivet is a Speyside whisky, the first of many illicit distilleries in the region to go legit at a time when the lowlands were the prime source of legal scotch whisky. If you are a whisky newbie, chances are high that this is a single malt that you’ve at least seen on the shelf at your local bar, and maybe even tried a few times.
The Glenlivet 12
Nose: Sweet malt, small amount of honey, lots of fruits. Peaches and apricots.
Taste: More flowery with a touch of vanilla. I’m not picking up any of the fruits that were so heavy in the nose.
Finish: It’s a medium finish. Nothing to brag about, but not insubstantial.
Overall: The nose was the most interesting aspect to me - I really wanted some of that peach flavor to carry over into the taste. Flowery is probably my least favorite flavor aspect in a scotch, so it lost a lot of points in my book when that became more dominant on the palate. Still, it’s a solid dram and it is easy to see why it is so popular around the world. Definitely worthy of consideration if you find yourself in a liquor store with only two $20 bills in your pocket.
Hello again everyone. I am back from my travels and plan to be posting regularly again. As the WhiskyParty writers are fortunate (or unfortunate in some circumstances) to travel a bit, we decided we would post as much as we can about whisky around the world. So, expect some postings about whisky from Dubai, Ireland, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand from me in the near future.
First, I wanted to post my impressions of the tasting I went to with WhiskyParty at Heights Chateau in Brooklyn back on June 9th, 2009. All in all it was a very fun night that ended with me buying WhiskyParty an expensive wedding present and myself an expensive “I drank too much and didn’t leave my credit card at home” present.
Notes we learned on The Speyside distillery :
Notes we learned what not to do at a tasting :
Now for the tasting notes. I did my best, but the tastings went pretty quickly so I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I’d like on them, and obviously tasting 13 scotches in one sitting is going to make your notes slightly jumbled.
N: varnish, clean
P: grapes, berries
F: long, dry
O: Actually tasty. Not like a blend, which is my problem with many of these cheaper scotches (they taste like Dewars to me). This one was more unique. Very drinkable, but not my favorite as there was not much peat smoke, vanilla or toffee. 8.5/10
King’s Crest 25 Year Old Blend
C: Orange Yellow
L: Small, slow
N: Vanilla, toffee, berries
P: Cherries, vanilla, no bite on tongue, smooth
F: Bright, a bit too sweet, explodes long with some fruit again.
O: Not bad, but coming in over 2 bills is way too expensive. 8.4/10
Now all the following drams are Scott’s Selections
Auchentoshan 1983, 21 years old, 105 Proof
C: light yellow
L: small, quick
N: Toffee, vanilla, grass, a little fruit with water
P: bitter, rubber, even brighter with water
F: nutty, sweet pistachios that turns slightly bitter with water.
O: Eh. 8.1/10
Glenlivet 1977, 27 years old, 106.2 proof
C: a pale yellow like chamomile tea
L: small, quick
N: Floral, and a touch of vanilla
P: fruits, toffee. With water, the sherry really comes forward and somehow vanilla is right with it.
F: Caramel, long fruit. With water, sweetness overpowers and becomes a bit sickly.
O: At this point, I’m a little worried about the tasting. This is once again okay, but hasn’t blown my mind or reached any of the right notes. 8.5/10
Macallan 1989, 18 years old, 106.2 proof, bourbon casks not sherry.
C: Pale yellow
L: quick, large
N: toffee cream
P: too bright to really get anything. Remains bright with water added.
F: sweet, with a sprinkling of brown sugar that becomes a bit too much like caramel with water.
O: I know I like Islays, and the national sales manager Brian doesn’t, but I’m still waiting for a great scotch worthy of the price tags next to the bottles. 8.3/10
The Glenrothes 1980, 25 years old, 111.6 proof.
O: 8.1/10. I’m a big The Glenrothes fan and this just disappointed me. It tasted like the three above it. Sort of this muddled jumble of all the notes it should have, without the right mix (sometimes Vanilla overpowers, sometimes it gets too sweet, sometimes it just tastes like someone poured me some Dewars that’s been sitting around in plastic for a few years.
Aberlour 1989, 18 years old, 105.6 proof
N: Cherries, chocolate
P: Cinnamon and sugar
F: Peppery and short
O: This was decent (unfortunately I didn’t record a grade) but still only marginally better than the ones above it. It hit some interesting notes, but seemed incomplete. Probably one of the better ones yet, though. At least because of that cinnamon taste that I had never had with scotch.
Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, 36 years old, 104.4 proof, Bourbon first fill
N: candied yams, vanilla cream and some green notes
P: a bit too bright without water, but a satisfying sweetness with a few drops added
F: medium length swell across the tongue that accentuates but doesn’t overpower.
O: Alright. This was pretty good. The age mellowed the sickly sweet I was getting from the previous drams and this scotch hit the right notes without overpowering. No smoke, obviously, but real tasty. 9.0/10
Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Cask, 36 years old, 106.2 proof, very rare as the liquid was filled into the wrong barrells
O: I got a bit of toffee with a lot of pine cabin on a hot day. Lots of forest and wood that was interesting to taste, but not necessarily tasty.
Highland Park 1986, 21 years old, 108.2 proof, bourbon barrel.
C: pale yellow
L: Small, quick
N: alcohol burn and brine. Salted fire with a bit of water.
P: Brine. seaweed in a poppy fire with water.
F: salty sweet with a clean fire to finish.
O: not bad, but not great. Pretty enjoyable to get that much brine out of a Highland, though. 8.8/10
Bruichladich 1990, 14 years old, 116.2 proof
C: almost clear
L: though this isn’t very helpful, I have either really slow, or really fst (I saw lines but no legs drop, and we were moving too quickly to investigate further)
N : fruits and flowers
P: light and grassy, with water becomes fruit forward with a tinge of smoke trying to peak through
F: sweet and clean with a bit of bitterness on the after.
O: Once again, an alright dram, but nothing that I’m writing home about.
Bunnahabhain 1988, 16 years old, 107.6 proof
N: cotton candy, delicious. like The Glenrothes 1990 but without vanilla
P: Oily sea, a little fruit. With water smoke comes forward (oily, of course), with the sweet fruit sitting behind it almost imperceptibly
F: briny without smoke, a good burn that is long and lasting
O: This was way interesting. Totally sweet on the nose and totally salty and smoky on the tongue. My mind was confused completely by the juxtaposition within the same dram. This was one of the ones I tried again at the end of the night and enjoyed it. 8.9/10
Caol Ila 1984, 22 years old, 105.4 proof
N: Fire, raging forest fire, with candied coating
P: Salty sweet smoke.
F: Pork crackling, salty, overdose of campfire.
O: A great Caol Ila (though I’m not sure the price was justified). 8.9/10
Once again this was a great night. I thank The Speyside for doing it as I learned a lot, and got to taste some great whisky (and they even got a decent amount of cash off of me). I think my big hangup on the event was that some of the scotches tasted way too similar without there being anything really unique about them and that the price tags next to the bottles just weren’t justified as there was similar tasting and maybe even better stuff out there for cheaper. My recommendations on the whole night would be the Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, the Bunnahabhain 1988, and a toss up between the Caol Ila 1984 and the Glenlivet Sherry Cask 1971.
Last night StrongLikeCask and I went to a whisky tasting with the US Ambassador for The Speyside and Scott’s Selection. I’ve got tasting notes below, but first a few observations about whisky tastings at local liquor stores:
Sniping aside, this was a great tasting put on by Heights Chateau, my local wine store. The whiskies were impressive - mostly 20 - 36 year old vintages from Scott’s Selection - and the $40 price tag was well-worth it considering the average price per bottle of what we tasted was somewhere in the ballpark of $175, and one bottle even went as hight as $332 (a Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Cask, only 3 barrels of which were ever made). The Speyside Ambassador had great stories to tell about his own distillery and the whisky business more generally, and the two hour tasting flew by. At the end of the evening, StrongLikeCask bought me a bottle of Longmorn-Glenlivet from 1967, my favorite dram of the evening, as a belated wedding gift. That was a steal.
Quick note - some of these drams were hard to identify, especially stacked one on top of the other, and at times we moved pretty fast. That’s why not all of the tastings contain notes on color, nose, taste, or finish.
The Speyside 12
The Speyside is a relatively new distillery, having been in operation for only 15 years. As such, the 12 year is their signature malt. It’s also one of only 4 distilleries in Scotland whose distillation process is completely manual - no computer automation is used in their process. They produce 86 barrels per week, and are the 3rd smallest distillery in Scotland.
Nose: Suprisingly alcoholic for one of the only non-cask strength whiskies we tasted. Hints of citrus and vanilla.
Taste: The citrus resolves into orange upfront, with a slightly floral finish.
Overall: A surprisingly nice dram considering it’s $38 price tag. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit more than some of the older vintage whiskies. This may be worth returning to for a full 40 Under $40 review.
King’s Crest 25 (Blend)
Very tough to identify. Maybe some bananas and caramel. With a price tag of $222, I really didn’g “get” this whisky.
Auchentoshan 1983 (21 year)
Nose: Floral, but lacking a perfume quality found in Rosebank.
Taste: Identical to the nose. Very light alcohol profile. I should note that this is one of the few single malts that is triple distilled.
The Glenlivet 1977 (27 year)
Nose: Huge alcohol profile. Tough to get anywhere near the glass.
Taste: Some cinammon. Banana and spice.
Macallan 1989 (18 year)
This was interesting in theory - it’s a Macallan aged in a Bourbon barrel rather than the usual Sherry cask. I couldn’t identify any difference between this and the Glenlivet 1977, and have to say I prefer the sherried version. This and the Glenlivet 1977 may well be my least favorites of the night.
Color: pale gold
Aberlour 1989 (18 year, Bourbon Aged)
Taste: The ambassador said this was a cinammon bomb and he was right. Very rich.
Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967 (36 years)
Taste: Burnt, or carmelized fruit. A little vanilla.
Overall: Hands down my favorite of the evening. The smoke/peat is very dry and not at all phenolic like a Laphroaig or Lagavulin. It actually reminded me more of a Springbank than anything else. This is the bottle that StrongLikeCask picked up for me.
Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Cask (36 Year)
Nose: Lemon Zest
Taste: Candied - and interesting mix of sherry and cinammon. There’s a tightness to the sherry as well. It’s not a big dram.
This is the most expensive bottle of the evening ($332). According to the Ambassador, it comes from one of only 3 barrels ever made.
Highland Park 1986 (21 Year)
For some reason, I got very little out of this dram. My only note from last night is “seaweed.”
Non-citrus fruit. Maybe berries.
Nose: Thin, almost like a tequila. Reminds me of the Glenrothes Select Reserve.
Taste: Some nice smoke. The taste in no way resembles the nose. It’s a little incongruous and slightly surprising. Like drinking two whiskies at once.
Caol Ila 1984 (22 Year)
Nose: Barbeque, slight hint of that tequila smell from the Bunnahabhain lurking in the back.
Taste: Tangy barbecue straight out of the smoker. Awesome.