Yet another recent Signatory exclusive for Binny’s from the group bottle split I coordinated in February. I’ve previously reviewed a very young Clynelish, a 16 yo Linkwood and a 17 yo Laphroaig from the Signatorys in that lot. After this 19 yo Glenlivet all that will remain will be a 26 yo Balmenach (and also a G&M Ledaig) and I’ll then go back to my usual diet of entirely irrelevant reviews. Let’s get right to it.
Glenlivet 19, 1995 (58.3%; Signatory for Binny’s; first fill sherry butt 166947; from a bottle split)
Nose: Raisins and pencil lead at first and then the rest of the first fill sherry package arrives: orange peel, leather, plum sauce, apricot, soy sauce (just a bit), dried shiitakes, just a hint of gunpowder. As it sits the sweeter fruit expands and there’s just a touch of sweet pipe tobacco too now. With a few drops of water the gunpowder recedes and it gets stickier with toffee; after a few beats the fruit begins to expand (particularly the apricot).
Palate: Everything promised by the nose and pretty much in that order—just a bit “darker” here. Very drinkable despite the high strength but water should do very good things for it. A few more sips first. More orange peel as it sits and a bit more of the soy sauce and the leather/gunpowder complex. Okay, let’s add water: as on the nose water pushes back the the touch of sharpness and pulls out more fruit; sweeter here now and spicier too.
Finish: Long. Not much new at first but gets spicier as it fades. With time there’s some dark chocolate and pepper. With water the sweet pipe tobacco from the nose shows up.
Comments: A lovely sherry bomb, especially on the nose. Instead of chasing overpriced Glendronach single casks of uncertain origin and variable quality, get a bottle of this. You won’t regret it. If K&L had bottled something half as good as this you would have received nine breathless emails about it; as it’s from Binny’s, they’ve not hyped it at all and there’s a lot of it still available. Watch the water though: add too much and it’ll turn a bit too sweet on the palate (with a metallic edge).
Rating: 88 points.
[The notes above were taken when the bottle was at the halfway mark. At that point I took it to my local group’s March tasting where it was the top whisky on the night. It came back home with about 150 ml left in the bottle and from that point on it seemed to quite quickly get more and more oak-forward on the palate and sharper in general. So, my advice would be to not wait too long to finish it once you get past the halfway mark.]