...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Single Malt Report: Glenlivet 19 year old 1996 Signatory for K&L Wine Merchants, cask #83265

Though I just did two posts about Edradour distillery, I won't be doing any Edradour whisky reviews this week.  I have no Edradour or Ballechin samples with me because 95% of my sample collection lives in another state (for just a few more weeks!).  But I do have three sherried Glenlivet samples bottled by Signatory!  (For those not in the know, Signatory Vintage owns Edradour Distillery.)

Each of these three sherried Glenlivets were sold exclusively through an American retailer. This first one was sold via K&L Wine Merchants.  I think K&L has had at least five ex-sherry Glenlivet casks from Signatory over the past few years with this cask (I think) being the most recent one.

My sample comes from an OC Scotch Club event I hosted last year.  I didn't try it at the event, so this is my first poke at it.

Distillery: Glenlivet
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Age: 19 years (May 20, 1996 - September 30, 2015)
Maturation: first fill ex-sherry butt
Cask#: 83265
Bottle count: 127 of 521
Alcohol by Volume: 50.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
(Also to note, I tried this side by side with the whisky from tomorrow's review.)

Its color is the darkest of the three whiskies this week.  The nose leads with toffee and caramel.  Then a mix of plum wine, dried currants, and creme de cassis.  Furniture polish, Cow Tales candy, and raisins.  Meanwhile the palate is hotter than I expected from the ABV.  It's floral, mouth drying, and tannic.  Some cherry candy, though more burnt butter and halvah.  It finishes with a little bitter coffee.  No, wait.  Bitter green oak.  A curious amount of vanilla meets a slight sourness.  Lots of heat and tannins.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The water blends all the parts together in the nose.  The sherry notes eventually come forward, while the oak is in the midground, and the spirit sleeps in the back.  Dried berries, caramel, orange peel, and burlap/hessian.  The palate is floral and bitter.  Strange combo.  Very bitter oak, sour lemons, with some mild oloroso notes in the background.  The finish is bitter, sour, floral, and long.

Though I find Signatory to the most reliable indie bottler when it comes to quality, they're not perfect, nor should anyone expect them to be.  (Though I have to say they're still batting about .900 for me.)  There was a '92 Strathmill that's one of the blandest whiskies I've tried.  One of K&L's single cask Imperials was much too soapy for me.  And then there's this Glenlivet.

Thanks to the fruits, the nose was enjoyable and vibrant.  It had me anticipating the palate would be similar.  The palate was not even remotely similar.  And the finish was unpleasant.  With water, the palate and finish actually got worse, leading me to spill the final sip down the sink.  My senses tell me the sherry butt was made from American oak, as the caramel, butter, and vanilla are plenty loud.  That's not a bad thing, it's actually pretty common.  But something feels cockeyed about this cask, with the aggressive tannins and bitterness in the mouth to the somewhat low ABV for the whisky's age.  What saves the whisky overall is that I found no oak problems in the good nose, and the whole thing works better when neat.

Once again, there's a dearth of reviews for this cask, something I often find with K&L exclusives.  It seems like Sku, MAO, Jordan, and I are the only bloggers who post reviews of their stuff.  Anyone else?  There isn't even an entry for this whisky in Whiskybase.  I bring this up because I wonder if anybody found this tannic/bitter issue.  So I ask you, my lovely readers, to weigh in via the comment section below.  Am I crazy (about this particular thing)?

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $90
Rating - 75 (neat only, 5-10 points lower with water)


  1. I assume your review of the Binny's Signatory Glenlivet 19, 1995 is coming soon. Someone posted a comment on my review of that one saying that they found it far superior to the K&L bottle and that the K&L bottle didn't seem like a 1st fill cask.


    1. Ah ha, thanks. Officially the bottle said 1st Fill Sherry Butt, but (ha!) something was curious about that cask. It's good to have one internet voice to sorta confirm that.

      Since this thing sold out, there are 500+ other owners out there. Where y'all at?

    2. Check the scotch board on Reddit. Search the cask #. (I'd search right now and try to find a link to back up my blind assertion, but Reddit appears to be down at the moment.)

    3. Good point. The reddit folks have been good to me, I should have checked that before hand...

      Just searched. Don't see that cask, though they've reviewed a number of other Signatory Glenlivets.