Glenlivet 30, 1977 (Mackillop’s Choice)

I remind you that the theme for this week’s reviews is older whiskies bottled by Mackillop’s Choice. And they were distilled in consecutive decades. First up on Monday was a 41 yo Tomintoul that was distilled in 1966. Next up is a Glenlivet that is roughly a decade younger and was distilled roughly a decade later. This is not my first review, as it happens, of a Glenlivet distilled in 1977. I’ve previously reviewed a 1977-2004 release from Scott’s Selection—who, like Mackillop’s Choice—were once a reliable source in the US for solid older whiskies at reasonable prices. Unlike Scott’s Selection, however, Mackillop’s Choice is still a going concern—or at least it was a few years ago. If anyone knows if they’re still bottling casks on the regular, please write in below. Anyway, I quite liked that Scott’s Selection Glenlivet 1977-2004, even as I noted that it was quite oak-forward. I’m hoping that this cask might have a little less oak and a little more fruit. Let’s see if that pans out at all. Continue reading


Glenlivet Nadurra, Oloroso, OL1015

Once upon a time, and a very nice time it was, Glenlivet, one of the two most popular single malt brands in the world and consequently not too concerned with the small hardcore enthusiast market made a malt for that market anyway. This was the Nadurra. Matured in ex-bourbon casks for at least 16 years and released in batches, the Nadurra was the one Glenlivet that the small hardcore enthusiast market was enthusiastic about. Naturally the distillery decided to fuck with a good thing and in 2014, or thereabouts, they dropped the age statement and introduced an oloroso version of the Nadurra, and then later a peated version. Well, to be frank it’s not just the distillery that’s responsible for this turn of events; it’s also whisky geeks who fetishize heavily sherried and peated malts. The Glenlivet brain trust probably thought this was what the cool kids wanted: Aberlour A’bunadh and Glenfarclas 105 and all that. And for all I know, the cool kids have indeed been buying these new Nadurras and proving the brain trust right. I’d meant to try the oloroso version myself when it first came out but never got around to it and then forgot about it. But now thanks to a bottle split I finally get to try one of the early releases, from 2015. Will it make me regret not having gotten aboard right away? Let’s see. Continue reading

Glenlivet 36, 1981 (Signatory for The Whisky Exchange)

I have not had very many old Glenlivets. And unless you’re a member of the whisky illuminati chances are you’ve not either. The few I’ve had have been very good indeed. The best of the lot was probably a Glenlivet 38, 1974 bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd for the Whisky Exchange in 2012, and which I emptied a few weeks before starting this blog (hmm I should check to see if I saved a sample from that bottle as was my usual practice in those days). This old Glenlivet was also bottled for the Whisky Exchange but by Signatory. It’s also, unlike the BB&R bottle, from a sherry cask. And as this is 2018 and not 2012, it costs more than three times as much. These are the times in which we live. Not so long ago a bottle like this would have been within reach of regular punters looking to make a splurge; now it’s only for the rich. But what is it like? Courtesy Billy Abbot, who passed on a sample to me when we met for drinks in June at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s London tasting rooms, I can give you my answer.  Continue reading

Glenlivet 1977-2004 (Scott’s Selection)

I’ve been threatening this review for a while. This Glenlivet 1977-2004 is the third of three Scott’s Selections bottles that I split last year with Michael K. (of Diving for Pearls), Jordan D. (of Chemistry of the Cocktail) and Florin (Craft Distiller of the Year). I’ve previously reviewed the Auchentoshan 1983 and the Bunnahabhain 1988 we got along with this one—I liked both, the Bunnahabhain more than the Auchentoshan. The Glenlivet I kept hearing iffy things about and that made me reluctant to move it to the front of the review line. But then Michael reviewed it last month and even though he didn’t love it, there was enough intriguing in his notes that made me finally get into it—especially his description of the fruity nose. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get as much fruit off the nose as he did, but—considering I have another four ounces of this—I’m glad to say I liked it anyway. Here are my notes. Continue reading

Quick Hits: Two Old Whiskies

Okay, after a bunch of still available—if not always easily purchased—whiskies in recent weeks let’s get back to being useless. I have two very old whiskies tonight. The first is the oldest I’ve ever had—not in terms of age, but in terms of when it was distilled. This is a Gordon & MacPhail release of a Glenlivet distilled in 1940. I confess I do not have any idea when it was actually bottled or how old it is (and Whiskybase doesn’t have details either—it’s this one). Regardless, it was very cool to drink a whisky distilled before my parents were born. The other was distilled a couple of years before I was born and it’s from a distillery that is no longer in operation: it’s a 36 yo Glenury Royal from 1968. I don’t believe I’ve had any other Glenury Royals. I actually took these notes in March, before leaving for London—I just forgot that I’d done so and so am only getting around to posting them now. As they were taken from 20 ml samples I’ve not assigned scores to them. Continue reading

Glenlivet 19, 1995 (Signatory for Binny’s)

Glenlivet 19, 1995, Signatory for Binny's
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).  Continue reading

Glenlivet 16, “Nadurra”, Batch 0112R

Glenlivet Nadurra 0112R
A year and a half ago I reviewed another batch of Glenlivet’s Nadurra (1109I) and there was some discussion in the comments about batch variation. In fact, in that review I’d linked to Jordan D.’s review of sample from this very bottle, which he did not like at all. And the source of that sample, Florin (a notorious Albanian diva), also chimed in the comments on both Jordan’s review and mine to note that he too thought it was very poor. Well, even though I am by nature suspicious of narratives of decline, this didn’t make me very excited about the prospect of opening this bottle.

But open it I eventually did—for one of my local group’s tastings. And none of us thought it was objectionable in the slightest; indeed, one person had it as their top whisky on the night. I didn’t give it a particularly strong score on the night, but I did think it was hot (it had been opened for the tasting) and needed to breathe a little longer in the open bottle. As it happens, I thought the couple of tastes I’ve had of it since were much better. The bottle is now in the last third and destined to be finished quickly and so it’s finally time for formal notes. Continue reading

Glenlivet 16 “Nadurra”, Batch 1109I

Glenlivet Nadurra
Of all the official Glenlivets the Nadurra is the most respected by geeks. It is very good indeed, but the fact that it is (now) cask strength and released in batches probably helps get it in the door. Not everyone loves it (see, for example, Jordan Devereaux’s review of another batch last month) but I’ve not yet met a batch I didn’t like a lot. This review is of a reference sample saved long ago from my very first bottle (I have bottles from two other batches in reserve). It’s still very reasonably priced in the US and should, I think, be a staple in any collection striving for representation from all the parts of the Scotch single malt spectrum.

Glenlivet 16 “Nadurra” (54.2%; Batch 1109I; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)

Nose: Toasted wood, more buttery than laden with vanilla, at least at first–a little later some vanilla emerges. Also emerging is some sweetness–some honey, some raisiny notes–and also some mild citrus. And the woody note gets a little spicier too. With a couple of drops of water the citrus gets brighter and there’s some muskier fruit too–melon, pear, a hint of apricot. Continue reading

Glenlivet 18

Glenlivet 18
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. Continue reading

Whisky Cocktails

I’ve had a very mild cold for a couple of days now. It’s not really knocked out my nose or tastebuds but I’m not drinking anything I like very much or taking notes for reviews until it’s gone. Instead, I’ve been drinking other things and little bits of whiskies I’ve recently been a little disappointed in. In this latter category fall the Ballechin 5 (Marsala)–to be reviewed soon–and the new(ish) Ardbeg “Ardbog”–to be reviewed in a month or two. Neither are bad–and I like the Ardbog more than the Ballechin–but neither seemed like they’d be wasted on me under current conditions either. Oddly enough, I liked them both a fair bit more last night. The dry, farmy peat of the Ballechin seemed to be tamped down and the Ardbog just tasted rounder (this may also be due to the bottle having been open for a few months now). I’ll be interested to try them again once this cold is done (hopefully in a day or two) and see what I make of them again. Continue reading

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. Continue reading