Glenlivet 15, 1995 (Signatory)

Glenlivet 15, 1995
Glenlivet and Glenfiddich are the two best known single malt distilleries in the world and their core whiskies are the most ubiquitous on liquor store shelves around the world. This leads unfairly, but understandably, to a degree of reverse snobbery about these distilleries among whisky geeks, and especially aspiring whisky geeks. I speak autobiographically here. Most of us signal our ascent from novice status by demonstrating that we drink more than the two famous Glens–whose core ranges are probably designed to appeal to blend drinkers, emphasizing a smooth, easy drinking profile. As I’ve noted elsewhere, Macallan suffers a similar fate of being too recognizable outside the geek world, but it’s higher up in the geek hierarchy; and the third famous Glen, Glenmorangie has largely escaped this fate despite being quite ubiquitous too.

Of course, without Glenlivet and Glenfiddich popularizing single malt whisky all over the world over the last few decades of the 20th century we would not have access today to the esoteric names and bottlings that most of us would rather associate our obsessionpassion with. This historical importance, however, does not necessarily say anything for the quality of the whisky produced by these distilleries; and truth be told, I’ve not had any Glenfiddichs that I’ve found particularly interesting (and there are very, very few indie Glenfiddichs, if any, out there). This is not true of Glenlivet, however. Their 16 yo cask strength Nadurra is one of my staple whiskies, and I’ve had some interesting indie expressions as well (including a very old one from Berry Bros. and Rudd that I should really review soon). The one I am reviewing tonight is from Signatory’s Unchillfiltered Collection and is from a single sherry butt. This is somewhat unusual for Glenlivet, and so I am very interested to see what I make of it.

Glenlivet 15, 1995 (46%; Signatory UCF, sherry butt #144357; from my own bottle)

Nose: Orange, caramel, a hint of chocolate. Something spicy as well and also something a little grassy. With time the citrus gets a little brighter (still oranges though) and there’s some toffee too now and some floral honey.

Palate: As on the nose: orange and chocolate first and then some caramel, golden raisins and a bit of toffee. Some spicy bite as it fades out. The mouthfeel is a little watery (it doesn’t feel like 46%). Gets a little more astringent/sharp with time with a sour woody note leading into the finish.

Finish: Medium. Spice and lingering citrus. At the very end the sherry separates a little. Later a menthol coolness develops and the citrus gets stronger as well.

Comments: After the long introduction I didn’t really have very much to say about the whisky itself. I bet this would have been really very good at cask strength, but as it is, it tastes watered down and a little generic (quite reminiscent, actually, of the Signatory UCF Glenrothes 15 I reviewed a while ago). That’s not to say it’s bad. It’s a pleasant whisky and I wouldn’t turn down a pour.

Rating: 83 points.

3 thoughts on “Glenlivet 15, 1995 (Signatory)

  1. I was going to get the new glenlivet from K&L but once I realize it was watered-down to 46%, just like this bottle, I passed. I think this was the only recent expression that was watered down by K&L. David’s explanation for watering it down is that because this was a popular brand, he wanted more people to try it. I had a chuckle over that. I don’t have anything against Glenlivet, but sometimes, its popularity (or marketability) get in the way of things.

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  2. I do have some sympathy for them. Like I say here, I think a lot of whisky geeks pass on Glenlivet by default. If that’s true the larger market for Glenlivet is likelier to be more casual drinkers and it is probably true that most of that group will be less attracted to very high strengths and turned off by higher prices.

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  3. Almost at the end of the bottle, and as I drink this tonight I’m not finding much of the grassy note I previously got on the nose, or the astringent/sharp thing on the palate. Tonight it’s all about the citrus (orange) but it’s not anymore complex than it was back in October.

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