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.