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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Single Malt Report: Taste Off, Part 2. The Glenlivet 18 year old

Surprise!  Whisky #2 was Glenlivet 18!

Okay, maybe not that big of a surprise.

Last week I matched up their 12 year olds, this week I tried their 18 year olds side by side.

I allowed Glenlivet a bit of a handicap.  Being that I've historically preferred Glenfiddich's spirit, I gave Glenlivet the second spot in the Taste Off, thus giving it more time to develop in the glass.

Now, unlike the GF 18, the GL 18 weighs in at 43% ABV, in both the UK and the US.  And if you squint, you can see that my GL sample was at 43%.  Otherwise, like the 'Fiddich, it's also colored and filtered.  And, like with the 'Fiddich, my expectations were thusly set a little low.

And it surpassed them.


Brand: The Glenlivet
Ownership: Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard)
Region: Speyside (Livet)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: 85% American (ex-bourbon) oak casks, 15% Spanish (ex-oloroso) oak casks
Age: minimum 18 years
Alcohol by Volume: 43%


Round 1 - neat, in a covered glass for 35-40 minutes before sampling

The color is dark gold with ruby highlights.  The nose starts with sweet sherry and molasses.  Has some notes that are reminiscent of the 15yr (cocoa and pencil shavings) even though that bottling spent time in Limousin Oak.  Buttery American oak notes develop over time.  Then there's some nice creamy milk chocolate and toffee.  The palate proves to be quite different.  Very fruity in fact: mango, green grapes, and peaches.  There's some caramel sauce, and maybe a touch of berries.  It gets sweeter the longer it's in the glass.  It's still sweet through the finish, with that hint of berries, more peaches, and pencils.

Round 2 - with water (down to 35.8% ABV)

There's that musty cocoa-pencil note from the 15yr in the nose again.  Some subtle white fruit.  And something lovely, perhaps cognac-ish.  The palate leads with peach and citrus juice.  Some hints of sherry.  Quite sweet, almost like wheat whiskey.  And...well...Moss Man action figure.  Yep.  Moss Man's still there in the finish, though quietly.  The sherry, peach, and sugars are much louder.

The verdict?

My favorite Glenlivet yet.

Though I enjoyed the Glenfiddich 18's berry notes more than I can defend, the Glenlivet 18 was more complex.  It's curious stuff.  I wouldn't mind a second round of it to dig further.

A great price on this one.  Like the GF 18, it's not a powerhouse; it's anything but burly.  Quite polite.  More suitable for these damn hot summer days and nights than a meaty sherry bomb or a peat wallop.  If you like the GL 12, then I wouldn't doubt you'd like its older sister.  And she's legal.

Availability - Most liquor specialists
Pricing - $65-$75, great price for its age
Rating - 87