Google Glenlivet to the power of 7

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

September 15, 2021


Glenlivet to
the power
of 7

An ueber-classic, the mother of all 'Glenlivets'. I've always believed, while so many other Distilleries were using the name as a suffix (Macallan-Glenlivet and so many others), that the former owners should have started to call their make 'Glenlivet-Glenlivet' instead of just 'Smith's Glenlivet'. Nah, I agree, bad idea I suppose, let's rather spend our energy trying to find a proper apéritif…
Magazine ad, USA, 1983. $20 back then >

Glenlivet 15 yo 'French Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Glenlivet 15 yo 'French Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
40% vol. feels a little stingy for a 15, but let's see… Apparently, it's not all only about French oak, some American oak has been used too at some point. We've last tried the 15 'French Oak Reserve' back in 2011 and had thought it was pretty good (WF 81). Colour: light gold. Nose: typical Glenlivet, rather soft, with quite a lot of cereals, cornflakes, a little crème brûlée and even bananas flambéed, going then rather towards English tea, with a tiny whiff of warm paraffin. Pleasant soft and yet full nose. Mouth: creamy and rather 'American oak', quite bizarrely, with some custard and nougats. Tends to become grassier and a little sour over time, with this feeling of 'quick sherry' that's often encountered in whiskies that have spent a small part of their lives in conditioned 'sherry' casks. Finish: short, soft, light, not unpleasant at all. Just, yup, light. A little cinnamon. Comments: really light and easy, in the style of, say Cardhu or Knockando. Perhaps for those eternal beginners that we all have as friends ('do you have one that's not smoked?') Score unchanged.

SGP:341 – 81 points.

Perhaps another, more intriguing OB before we tackle a few IBS…

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Illicit Still' (48%, OB, The Original Stories, 2020)

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Illicit Still' (48%, OB, The Original Stories, 2020) Four stars
Did you already try the varnis… I mean the whisky they make in their wee 'illicit still' at the Distillery? Well, I did and you would believe it was rather made at the Castle of Aargh, if you ask me. But I believe this is just a 'tribute' bottling and that it does not shelter that juice. Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant, buttery, a little eau-de-vie-ish (raw kirschwasser), on cereals again, not too far from the 15 as far as the overall profile is concerned. I'm finding rather a lot of beeswax, those touches of paraffin again, kougelhopf and orange blossom water. A fresh box of Turkish delights straight from Istanbul, and those ripe apples that aren't unusual in Glenlivet. Nice. Mouth: very creamy, very candy-like, pretty waxy again, going towards honey sweets and preserved peaches and pears. A little icing sugar, cane syrup, then grassier notes, green tea, wee touches of turmeric and ginger from some oak that must have been pretty active… And vanilla. Finish: rather long, with more bubblegum and a few marshmallows. Pears as well, then spices and teas again. Comments: a more modern Glenlivet that they could as well have bottled in their Distillery Reserve Collection if you ask me. I find it very good. We're ready for the IBS (that should really be IBs, thank you Maurice)
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 17 yo 2003/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #800356+58, 510 bottles)

Glenlivet 17 yo 2003/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #800356+58, 510 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: we're really very close to the Illicit one, with a similar fruity and cereally arrival on the nose, then rather honey and herbal teas. Apples, peaches, and once again a little beeswax. Wondering if they haven't been cranking-up the wax at Glenlivet in the early 2000s, maybe did they install some old cast-iron receivers? Because remember, it is in the old pans that the best soups are made. A drop of gewurz. Mouth: really good, a little more singular than the illicit one, that is to say with a little more piney oils and resins at first, then wild thyme and then gentler, easier notes of vanilla and indeed beeswax. Let's not forget the trademark apples. Finish: medium, rather oily, with notes of, well, waxed apples. Of course they do wax apples. Comments: it is really family.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrels, casks #800671-72, 510 bottles)

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrels, casks #800671-72, 510 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a little more stamina and more bread, we're kind of closer to the barley here. The paraffin is louder too, there are church candles (amen), butterscotch and shortbread, plasticine, then a few crushed pine needles… Oak oils. Mouth: excellent, rather firmer than your usual Glenlivet, with an unexpected meatiness (nah it's no T-bone steak), then bitter ales and some tobacco. Gets then gentler though, on apple compote and vanilla. Some action in this one. Finish: rather long, on sliced apples, beeswax, a little marmalade, and soft cinnamon tea. A curious vinosity (fattish chardonnay) in the aftertaste, but of course there isn't any wine in there. Comments: very good and a little 'different'. What's the value of difference in whisky? You've got thirty minutes.

SGP:451 - 86 points.

Perhaps a bomb…

Glenlivet 12 yo 2007/2020 (66.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900171, 309 bottles)

Glenlivet 12 yo 2007/2020 (66.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900171, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
I find it splendid that at 66% vol., the extremely distinguished bottlers would have decided to not chill-filter this insane baby. Colour: amber. Nose: more shoe polish than in a barracks and more spent engine oil than under an old Jag. We won't take any further chances… With water: sometimes pure magic happens when malt whisky encounters dry sherry. Bovril, umami sauce, beeswax, charcoal (BBQ) and deep-roasted beef, and really a lot of engine oil. Massive amounts of engine oil and metal polish. Mouth (neat): a mix of coffee, marmalade and gun oil. Oh and ethanol. With water: gentler, with much more marmalade and compote, chamomile tea, hawthorn, and just 'cakes'. Roasted pecans and chestnuts too. And there, burnt kougelhopf. And cloves and juniper berries. Finish: very long, bone-dry, very oloroso-y. Coffee, meat, tobacco and bitter chocolate. Comments: looks like TWE have diverted quite a few of these raw yet fantastic 2007 'livets by SigV. Rather in the style of the earliest A'bunadhs, GF 105, Mac 10 C/S…
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Some older ones…

Glenlivet 1978 (41.7%, The Perfect Fifth, cask #13523, 2021?)

Glenlivet 1978 (41.7%, The Perfect Fifth, cask #13523, 2021?) Four stars
I haven't seen this one online yet, but there, we have it. Picture of another bottling in the same range. Colour: greenish gold. Nail? Copper? Patch? Nose: crème au beurre and rhubarb wine, rusty nails and screws, sweetened sour fruits, plastic bags (remember?), leatherette, sour cream… All that works pretty well on the nose despite all those rather deviant notes, but as far as the palate's concerned, well, we're scared now… Mouth: well, it works, but once again we're far from what was to be expected (before we saw the colour). Old sweet wines, old Sauternes, raisins, Tuscan vinsanto, stuff like that, all bottles being very old. Old pine liqueur too, linseed oil… Now the low strength does not obligatorily raise a problem. Finish: medium and actually pretty good. Imagine raisins macerated in old yellow chartreuse (except that this whisky is green, I mean, literally). Comments: sometimes whiskies come my way while they would never make it to the market. This is a very unusual yet very good whisky, the kind that you sometimes encounter while touring warehouses, valinch in hand. They tend never to come out, especially since the colours will scare off many potential patrons.

SGP:471 - 85 points.

A last one…

Glenlivet 45 yo 1976/2021 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill American hogshead, cask #1565)

Glenlivet 45 yo 1976/2021 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill American hogshead, cask #1565) Five stars
45 years, we are really adding up here. Colour: light gold, the magic of refill. Nose: great old Meursault with a dollop of absinth. Honeysuckle, butter cream, beeswax, then various old apples and plums, an old rectory's orchard around the end of the month of august, vanilla, liquorice wood and fennel seeds, carrot tops, hay smoke, wood smoke, miso… As often when a whisky's this old, aromas tend to decompose into many tinier notes, some being almost inexpressible and yet there are there. What we sometimes call a 'fractal nose' (ouch). Mouth: fractal indeed, but rather drier this time, with more oak than the colour had suggested. Quite some wood oils, thuja, eucalyptus, pine and fir, some tobacco, hints of turpentine-like notes, then last year's apples, walnuts… What's particularly funny here is that this baby tends to improve over, say fifteen minutes, becoming brighter and fruitier, while very old whiskies would rather tend to lose steam and become drying. You know, the 'black tea effect'. I'm glad I'll manage to keep it around the 90-mark in my book. Finish: a little short, which is absolutely normal, but wonderfully herbal. Raisins marinated in herbal liqueur plus chicken soup. The aftertaste is particularly wonderful, with some lime popping out. It's always great when lemons, grapefruits and limes do that. There, one more point. Comments: this old glory never stopped improving, gaining one point every three or four minutes. Respect.

SGP:461 - 90 points.

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