Sunday, September 18, 2011


The Glenlivet range of single malt whiskies starts at 12 yrs, followed by 15 and then 18. There are other expressions from time to time that appear in duty free shops at airports. In any case, today I am trying the 18 yr old.

Glenlivet scotch is the second best selling single malt scotch in the world. With that kind of world wide market share and popularity, one has to wonder if it is any good. I am here to report that this distillery makes a pretty good 18 yr old single malt.

Floral (peony, roses) notes mixed with tendrils of sherry.

Undiluted Palate
Slightly sweet, rich sherry initially followed by red fruit, caramelized pears, malty backbone, all accompanied by modest spiciness and a little oak.

The Glenlivet 18yr old is a product of the blending of this single malt from some casks that previously held bourbon while others held sherry. The result is a single malt that is memorable and the sherry seems to come out on top in the overall flavor profile.

Add Water
Add a little water (ie. a teaspoon or two) and the sherry and spiciness is toned down. At the same time, it becomes sweeter and with a greater malty presence mid-palate. On the ‘finish’ the heather flavor is elevated and visited by a newcomer, mint.

Finish (undiluted)
Warming heather and restrained peat flavors drying across the palate accompanied by some light spiciness.

Finish (diluted)
Sweeter than without water and a little richer taste as the warming heather and gentler peat evaporates in your mouth. A gentle spiciness also lingers to finish this out.

General Impressions
I definitely prefer this with two teaspoons of water to a shot of the single malt. The water transforms an otherwise middle of the road single malt into a strong performer. For those readers who like their scotch with ice, this is a single malt that will dance with the ice cube. A marriage made in heaven for those who like ice.

Consumed neat, it is pleasing, concentrated, but a little simple or one dimensional. It’s good, but not what I would regard among the greats like Highland Park 18 yrs or Talisker. As mentioned previously, the addition of water takes it to a higher level. Strangely, it acquires some complexity with the addition of water.

Price Point
The price of this single malt is among the lowest in the market place for an 18 year old. As a result, making this purchase is clearly going to deliver value for money given the above satisfactory tasting note. It’s not the best 18 year old single malt on the market, but it certainly is far from the worst.

Bottom Line
An above average single malt scotch that benefits from the addition of a bit of water.

It's Tasting Time


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