Origin: Speyside (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon
Added coloring: Yes
Owner: Pernod Ricard
Average price: € 45.00
Official website: www.theglenlivet.com
4 stills. 10.5 million litres produced annually. The best selling single malt in the world in 2014. The second best seller in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
We are talking about Glenlivet, a giant among scotches, distributed in Italy by Pernod Ricard.
Located since 1858 on the eastern slopes of Carn Liath, at an altitude of 245 metres, the distillery has a rather complicated history.
Its official date of birth, in another location, is 1824, when George Smith, a qualified carpenter who had been making whisky illegally for several years, managed to obtain, thanks to the Duke of Gordon (whose tenant he was), a licence to distil. His old smuggling companions, furious that he could do it openly while they had to continue to act in secret, burned down his distillery.
But Smith did not give up, and in 1825 he appointed an agent in Edinburgh, Andrew Usher, who in 1853 released the first labelled whisky in history: Ushers Old Vatted Glenlivet.
After 1880 many other distilleries began to use the name Glenlivet, because it had become synonymous with what is now identified as Speyside, and George Smith’s son, John Gordon, was forced to file an injunction to prevent the generic use of the word.
In the end, only Smith’s whisky was allowed to be called ‘The Glenlivet’. All other distilleries would be allowed to use ‘Glenlivet’ as a suffix. Over time, the Smith family never stopped looking after the distillery, facing, and overcoming, a major crisis in 1930-31, and bringing the single malt to prominence overseas.
Today the property is in the hands of Chivas Brothers, and the success continues.
Glenlivet’s whisky has a floral, fruity profile: it is distilled from slightly hard water that bubbles out of granite and flows under the ground for many miles, and the peat in the malt is very light.
The bottling reviewed today is the 12yo First Fill, from ex-bourbon casks filled with whisky for the first time.
This is a different version from the usual 12yo, for which refill casks are used (i.e. not first fill), while the official core range shows, for the same age, a third variant: Double Oak, aged in both European and American oak (it’s not stated whether first fill or refill). The alcohol content is the standard 40% ABV.
The colour is light gold, the body light (arches and tears are subtle and frequent).
When the glass is held up to the nose, alongside a jasmine bouquet that grows in intensity as the minutes pass, there are fruity scents of Williams pear and yellow apple, and a hint of wood. This is an elementary but not unpleasant olfactory profile, marred at times by a slight alcoholic sting.
On the palate, the fruity scents become noticeably softer, while the perception of alcohol unfortunately increases. Over time a pleasant cereal aroma emerges, but no substantial development is discernible.
The finish is very brief, again on cereals.
A daily dram that doesn’t leave great memories.
The nose is pleasant, but the palate is anonymous and the finish is even lightning fast. An absence of complexity isn’t always a bad thing, but here everything is far too flat.