Monday, 27 May 2013

The Glenlivet Tweet Tasting

A pretty special Tweet Tasting featuring three 'core' expressions from The Glenlivet range and for the finale dram, to newly released, and mysterious Alpha, a limited edition release with very little information published yet.

Famously the first legal Scottish distillery in Speyside after owner George Smith took the brave step of applying for the first license to distil following the Excise Act of 1823, Glenlivet became so synonymous with the best quality that the company was forced to take legal action in the 1880s to prevent its rivals passing off their own wares as 'the Real Stuff'. Despite the Smith family winning the exclusive right for their product to be known as 'The' Glenlivet, dozens of other distilleries persisted with the usage of the Glenlivet suffix (eg Macallan-Glenlivet) for decades afterwards.

Although the distillery's standard 12 Year Old epitomises the kind of soft, smooth, lighter style of Speyside malts loved by so many whisky fans, Glenlivet's spirit has also proven itself to be more than capable of withstanding long years of wood-ageing. The ongoing Cellar Collection was created to showcase some of the superb older malts in the distillery's archives, and some extremely old sherried vintages going back to the 1930s have been bottled by Gordon & Macphail.
Whisky Discovery
All set up at Whisky Discovery HQ complete with my new Glenlivet glasses!
We were joined by International Brand Ambassador Ian Logan @iantheguardian who was on hand to answer all our ‘The Glenlivet’ based questions. So with the clock at 7:00pm precisely we started our evening with The Glenlivet 12 Year Old. 

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old (40% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
circa £28.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
This was one of my early 'Whisky Discoveries' and reading back through my initial 'liquid log' entry I think it is high time I revisited this and gave it the proper review it deserves.

The delicate and complex character of the 12 Year Old derives from the height and width of stills at The Glenlivet Distillery. This expression is matured in a mixture of cask types, including American and European Oak. Maturation in American oak imparts vanilla notes and gives the whisky its distinct smoothness. The mineral rich water from Josie's Well ensures the best possible results during mashing and fermenting to form the flavours that define this expression.

So what Did We Think?

Kat: Nose: Red apples, dried fruits (figs & raisins), some oak, dried hay, with hints of dark roasted coffee bean powder. With a little time, some more fruit notes develops of under ripe mangoes and red berries. 

Taste:  Zesty citrus, some spices (more like all spice berries), cooked lemons, and the apple note comes through as well. Overall a fresh and light taste. 

Finish:  White pepper, hint of spices this time of cloves, and leaving a bit of a dry mouth feel. Medium long finish. 

Dave: This has a lovely fresh floral nose, it reminds me of grassy summer meadows. There is gentle vanilla and tropical fruits too, I certainly noted pineapples, but later these turned more apple like and less pine like. With the teeniest drop of water the nose becomes much sweeter and refreshing with a crisp pear note

The palate is gently fruity at first, having a 'fruit salad' sweet like fruitiness to it. There is lots of creamy vanilla and some gentle peppery spice, and it all finishes rather quickly with gentle sweetness, a littler sherbet and quite dry.

Verdict: I'd forgotten how simply delicious this is. It is not an overly complex dram, but simply crisp, clean, very refreshing and oh so drinkable.

What did the others think?
@MasterOfMaltJM: Honey, pineapple, vanilla, pressed apples and a little cinnamon
@TheWhiskyBoys: Sipping now, vanilla and gooseberries, quite rich and creamy runny toffee
@whiskycast: That touch of green apple from the nose is still very subtle on the palate, but comes back out to play on the finish
@ifotou: Taste light and refreshing oaky and fruity with definite wood notes, young and fresh and vanilla custard
@steveprentice: On the palate is smooth and easy to drink, gently oily and mouth warming with some spices after a while.
@whiskywardrobe: Lovely vanilla on this, a bit light but I like the touch of tobacco that it has. Nice dram. 

Whisky Discovery #422

The Glenlivet 15 Year Old (40% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
circa £40.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
The 15 Year Old’s distinctive character is the result of selective maturation; a proportion of the spirit is matured in a selection of French Oak casks for a limited period, so as not to overpower the final result.

The Glenlivet was one of the first distilleries to use French Oak in the whisky making process, a technique that has since been imitated by many others. Limousin Oak, which is cut in the Dordogne region of France, is often used to mature fine wines and cognacs. In the case of The Glenlivet, its low density allows the spirit to penetrate deep into the wood, imparting the expression’s distinctive spiciness. The French Oak also increases the intensity of the whisky, resulting in a richer and creamier finish.

So what Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Firstly you get this floral perfume that reminds me of a field of dandelions (the field opposite my house is just full of them in bloom at the moment), this is followed by strawberry jam, hints of milk chocolate, and madeira cake. No dried fruits being picked up. 

Taste: Interestingly I taste dried fruits (figs and raisins ) but nothing in the nose. I was expecting to get these flavours in the 12 year old but didn’t. Again it’s fresh and light, with the difference of the spices here being of cinnamon and liquorice. 

Finish:  To me, it’s not too dissimilar to the 12 year old. 

Dave: I immediately found spiced pears on the nose, with a rich honey sweetness, and some interesting spiciness coming through. There was an unexpected strawberry note, which as Kat pointed out was similar to a rich strawberry jam note. Rich toffee notes appear a little later.

This was so smooth and creamy on the palate, just mouthwatering, reminding me of a  warming vanilla custard with a sprinkling of nutmeg. The oak spiciness builds and remains with the finish

Verdict: I really enjoyed this dram and can see why a lot of people have been saying good things about this expression. Although similar in profile to the 12 Year Old it is much more spicy and richer in flavour too.

What did the others think?
@EdinburghWhisky: nose: more creamy, biscuity, hints of pastries and then the apples, almonds, and butteriness
@TheWhiskyBoys: Colour, doorknocker brass, Nose a rich sweetness,marzipan and a citrus hit Caribbean fruits quite complex
@GuidScotchDrink: red apples and toasted caramel with honey covered grapefruit and hints of Moroccan bazaar
@weheartwhisky: lovely and rich, with some excellent spices but not overpowering in anyway. Figs dusted with icing sugar
@steveprentice: A summer dram, it's not got the fresh grass and apples in quite such abundance, instead stewed summer fruits with a dollop of vanilla yoghurt on the nose
@DramStats: Ripe banana at first then warm apple pie filling with cinnamon and sultana, then fudge and apricots 

Whisky Discovery #423

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old (43% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
circa £50.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
The rich palate of the 18 Year Old is the result of a combination of several different cask types. The Glenlivet Master Distiller Alan Winchester has a wealth of quality casks to choose from when creating this complex expression, with American and European Oak, first and second fill, all playing their parts.

European Oak imparts spicy hints and brings additional complexity first-fill American Oak adds tropical fruitiness

So what Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  This shares some similar profiles to the 12 year old. Has same apples and dried fruit notes but overall richer. The apple notes is present, initially starting off as fresh apples but later turns into the smell of apple crumble. In addition there’s dark chocolate, hint of roasted coffee beans, and the smell of boats (ah it brings back fond childhood memories) with its damp decks and wet ropes. 

Taste:  Deliveries a full body richness which reflects the nose but more spices. Here is of black pepper. Towards the end there’s a brief moment of sweetness that’s reminds me of the taste of a trifle. 

Finish: Warming with a long peppery finish. 

Dave: Wax furniture polish was the first this that came to mind when I first nose this, but it settled down quickly. Vanilla started sneaking out, fresh vanilla pods, then tobacco, followed by dried fruits, rich toffee and slowly evolves to become wonderfully sweet

This is so smooth and creamy, rich and sweet with toffee and dates. Spices build with ginger and white pepper turning more nutty towards the end leaving quite a dry finish while still remaining spicy with a chilli heat.

Verdict: I can see why Ian Logan says that this is his favourite Glenlivet, it is dangerously drinkable!

What did the others think?
@ifotou: A really light nose which begins with light oak fresh vanilla pods and Ecuadorian dark chocolate
@weheartwhisky: tobacco on the nose with toffee apple, figs again, vanilla pods and creme caramel
@themisswhisky: Nose: Peaches, cherries and grassy note found in 12 comes back but more sour, silage now for me
@TheWhiskyBoys: Rich gold in colour, nose - florist shop fragrance. Bourbon infused fruit cake.hint of peat
@steveprentice: Late autumn gold in colour. A fabulous nose, juxtaposed fresh fruits but old wintery fruits at the same time, but married together very happily. Earthy mossy dunnage cask oak notes with apples around it in harvest festival style
@lucycryle: Toasted seeds are all over this palate, followed by very ripe 

Whisky Discovery #424

The Glenlivet Alpha NAS (50% abv)
Speyside Single Malt
circa £100.00 70 cl
Whisky Discovery
The Glenlivet Alpha was released on the 8th of May, 2013 A unique new whisky, limited to just 3,350 bottles, with only 600 bottles available for the UK. This has been released without any details about the cask maturation or any tasting notes, even the colour of the whisky was mystery as packaging consists of a solid black bottle. 

So what Did We Think?

Kat: Nose:  Your first hit by the almost overpowering aroma of those foamy banana sweets but this does take a back seat to allow the other flavours to come through, but still lingers in the back ground. This is followed by raw dark chocolate chip cookie dough, fresh strawberry and vanilla ice cream milkshake, Madeira cake (like the 15 year old),  and some butterscotch. 

Taste:  This reflects the nose beautifully with some spicy warmth from black peppers. This is also a full bodied whisky but not with the dark roasted qualities. Maybe full bodied is not the right description, perhaps saying it has richer flavours is more accurate. 

Finish:  Warming, long peppery finish. 

Dave: Well I can confirm it certainly wasn't pink as @whiskycast tweeted to see if the PR team would bite! As I poured the reassuringly whisky coloured golden liquid into the glass it reminded me of rhubarb and custard sweets from when I was a lad. The nose came across as fresh and clean. Tropical fruits started to develop, and a sweet melon note, I couldn't remember the variety, but I remember finding them in France a little while back at a family wedding. Alongside the melon there was honey mango, passion fruits, and citrus flavours oozing from it, limes, lemon drizzle cake. After a little while in the glass some spicy wood notes started to develop. I was keen to taste this one!

It was very light and fresh on the palate, getting back towards a summery garden dram. The  tropical fruits picked up on the nose come through on the palate too still there. There was a creamy vanilla note before the spices started to build with some peppery heat before settling back to being smooth and creamy.

The peppery spice remained on the finish, while starting to turn quite dry, similar to finishing a Fino sherry.

What did the others think?
@TheWhiskyBoys: Colour pale sunrise yellow gold. nose, mixed soft fruits and heather honey and bounty bars
@themisswhisky: Wowzers - waves of tropical fruit hit the nose with a backbone of spicy intrigue on this 
@champdenwhite: Different from others, yet still that family backbone, very well integrated wood, so much so it's just there
@lucycryle: Smells like a lemon drizzle cake I use from a family recipe - slightly undercooked to give a creamy sweet flavour
@EdinburghWhisky: Palate: grapefruit, pears, gooseberry, lime, lemon. It's like a very high quality pinot gris
@ifotou: Gentle bourbon influence with freshly scraped vanilla pod mixing with red crunchy apple fresh pineapple chunks and a touch of caramel

Our favourites?

Kat: Out of the four whiskies, my favourites are the 18 year old then the Alpha. For my taste, I find the 12 and the 15 year old too light and much prefer the fuller richer flavours of the others. However my absolute favourite, from what I’ve tasted so far from Glenlivet has to be the 25 year old. I had this at Whisky Live earlier this year but sadly didn’t take tasting notes at the time. Fingers cross, I will be able to taste it again soon and will be sure to post my thoughts. 

Dave: I totally agree with Kat (and Ian Logan!) the 18 Year Old was my particular favourite of the four, and was feeling rather smug with myself as I had only recently bought myself a bottle of it which was unopened at the time of the tweet tasting. The Alpha is an exceptional whisky with bags of fruit. I'm a little sceptical of the marketing campaign, however it is very brave of Glenlivet to release a whisky with no information at all. Information is slowly being revealed through their website and Facebook pages and I've recently learnt that it is a marriage of two cask types, first fill bourbon, and second fill new wood. Unfortunately I expect much of this to be snapped up by collectors, and not drunk - it should be, because it is very very good. I was also impressed with revisiting the the core expression, 12 Year Old is a great re-discovery and I would be very happy to have a bottle of the 15 Year Old French Oak on my shelf.

And finally....
As per previous Tweet Tastings there was a great deal of tweeting going on and to see what happened search on the #Alpha hashtag on twitter for the full story.

Yet another great experience and another highlight of our whisky journey, with three new discoveries for us, Tweet Tastings really are a great way to taste whisky.

A massive THANK YOU to Steve Rush at @TheWhiskyWire, International Brand Ambassador Ian Logan @iantheguardian to all the team at @The_Glenlivet and of course the tweet tasters.

This events tweet tasters were:
@TheWhiskyWire @EdinburghWhisky @WeHeartWhisky @MasterOfMaltJM @themisswhisky @TheWhiskyBoys @cowfish @whiskycast @Whisky4Everyone  @malthound @ScotMaltWhisky @themaltedmuse @TheWhiskyLounge @ifotou @whiskywardrobe @thinkingdrinks @GuidScotchDrink @WhiskyDiscovery @steveprentice @Girl_Whisky @dramstats @WhiskyDiscovKat @PlanetWhiskies

For more information see: and


Gal Granov said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steve lamond said...

Sounds like a great tasting event, looking forward to the jura one tomorrow even more now:

PS:can you link the twitter accounts to the pages, much easier for us lazy readers than copying and pasting ;)