Glenlivet quartet – 12, 15, 18 and 21 year

After recently revisiting the Glenlivet 21 year, I decided to pull out another post from the archives in which we sampled back-to-back blind four selections in rapid succession before they were revealed.

Intrigued, our sampling began…

  1. Light in colour. Dismissed immediately as forgettable – nothing remarkable on the nose, palate or finish. A complete ‘light weight’ to be served at a party with drinkers who do not know any better.
  2. Richer gold in colour. The nose had dried fruits like prune or apricot, sweetness maintained on the palate with a hint of spice. No whiff of peat however had a fresh forest dampness. Reasonable finish that stayed. An oddly ‘manufactured’ quality. Some promise if only could sample a cask strength version.
  3. Even deeper colour. Much sweeter than the 2nd option – notes of raisins and figs, more towards ‘brown sugar’. Smooth fruitiness on the palate. Lingering finish. Ditto on the sense of being vaguely ‘manufactured’, yet clearly preferred.
  4. Also strong amber colour. Nose not as sweet, more in the dried fruit range. Palate decidedly ‘dry’, edging to kokum with a chewy rubber-like quality, hints of clove-like spice, certainly greater complexity than the earlier samples. Lasting warm finish – chocolaty with a dash of cinnamon-spice. A few drops of water enhanced.

Glenlivet 12, 15, 18 + 21 year (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

The unveiling revealed a deliberate change to not follow an order directly correlated to age:

  • Glenlivet 12 year – All perplexed that such a sad offering garners such popularity. The marvels of marketing?
  • Glenlivet 18 year – While quite decent, terribly weak compared with other much more interesting 18 years like the old Highland Park, Hakushu, etc.
  • Glenlivet 15 year – Tried again with a dash of water revealed a slightly more complex and spicy palate closer to the 18 year. Confirmed as the favourite.
  • Glenlivet 21 year – Certainly not worthy of a 21 year price tag. Sorry folks!

The evening was salvaged by closing with the remarkable Edradour 12 year Caledonia and post dinner, a fabulous rum from Guyana – El Dorado 15 year.