Glenlivet have a fairly broad range of offerings for the single malt drinker, at various price points. The entry-level 12 yo is simple and uncomplicated (some would say uninteresting, but, again, it’s the entry-level malt). A few years and a little more money up the range sits the 15 yo French Oak (this one I have not tried). And at a little less than twice the price of that is this 18 yo. And then there’s the 21 yo “Archive” which comes in a nice wooden box, and is presumably aimed at a gifting market. And at about three times the price of the 21 yo sits the XXV, which I got to taste last October and which is rather good. Whisky geeks, generally, are most interested in the 16 yo cask strength Nadurra (very reasonably priced) among the official bottlings. My review of a batch of Nadurra is forthcoming but first the 18 yo. I’ve always enjoyed this when I’ve encountered it in friends’ homes and so am looking forward to evaluating it a little more attentively.
Glenlivet 18 (43%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Honey, raisins and some bright citrus. Gets a little maltier as it sits and there’s some milk chocolate too. Just a little bit grassy. With time the citrus–somewhere between lemon and orange–is very nicely balanced with the malt and there’s a slightly buttery note too now. A drop of water wakes the honey back up and now there’s a bit of pine too.
Palate: Starts out a little blank and then grassy but then as I swallow here comes the milk chocolate (more like milky coffee now) and orange peel and some toasted wood. Not a whole lot of development though from there. Well, much later (20-30 minutes) it gets a little bit briny. Water brings out more of the citrus.
Finish: Medium. The wood hangs out for a while and while its bitterness is not unpleasant the note gets a little more metallic and grassy as it goes. With time the metallic/bitter thing recedes a fair bit and the feel gets much softer. A little more oomph with water but the metallic note comes back; it also gets much sweeter.
Comments: This is quite nice, especially with a lot of time (and I thought water did it good too). It’s a mostly flawless whisky (I didn’t like the metallic/grassy notes that were present at first on the palate and finish) and well balanced, but it’s also rather unexciting, especially on the palate; the nose, I thought, was quite good. I would never turn down a pour but can’t recommend a bottle at the price. Still, it’s priced very reasonably compared to most OB 18 yo’s. It’s just that the Nadurra is cheaper. Speaking of which….
Rating: 85 points. (But give it time to get there and try a drop or two of water).
Thanks to Alpha for the sample!