A Night with Glen – Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve 40%

A few months back, our host and I had an opportunity to share a slice of insight into ‘our’ Bombay with a delightful film crew from Australia and Columbia. As thanks, the team thought a couple whisky women deserved a whisky and picked this bottle up from duty free.

Now both of us were touched by the gesture but admitted an NAS dram from Glenlivet’s travel retail line probably wouldn’t have been our 1st choice.

Don’t get me wrong… There are plenty of fabulous NAS whiskies out there and many available through travel retail too! Case in point – nearly all of our Bruichladdich Peat Progression bottles came straight from duty free!

And it is good to visit the mass market standards sometimes just to have a ‘baseline’ from where whiskies with nuance and character shine… a foil if you will.

So our “A Night with Glen” seemed the perfect opportunity to test this theory. And see what the Whisky Ladies thought…

Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve 40%

Here’s what we found:

  • Nose – Fresh from the bottle varnish! Then a dampness, caramel, early maple, became increasingly more and more yeasty yoghurt, even the phrase ‘baby puke’ was used, honey, after some time a little orange zest, aside from the predominant yoghurt quality, overall easy on the nose
  • Palate – Mild, flat, shockingly astringent for only 40%, then settled into a simple, inoffensive, bland whisky with just a bit of almonds, hint of figs and plums or a generic fruit
  • Finish – Sweet and simple, slight hint of cinnamon

We decided to be kind… So we came up with phrases like “not offensive” and “much nicer than the 1st” (Glencadam 15 year)… to be countered by the opinion of a novice who admitted “while it is easier to drink, the Glencadam was a bit more interesting.”

So talk turned to the heat… and how for a climate like Mumbai, we should be considering what whiskies work best for our environment. Why having with a cube of ice considered ‘verboten’ in most whisky afficianados is the standard approach here in India.

And more importantly, concluded this might be the kind of ‘drinkable whisky’ to sip, with ice, and not be distracted or horrified at shocking the character and quality of the dram with a cube or two.

Much like the Glencadam, this wasn’t my first tryst with this particular Glenlivet. Our original Mumbai tasting group sampled it blind… and it didn’t meet muster with that malty lot either.

Also from our Night With Glen:

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Whisky Ladies “A Night with Glen”

For the Whisky Ladies June session, we decided to spend “A Night with Glen”… or more precisely:

Now, the Whisky Ladies tend to be a discerning bunch with adventuresome tastes, so this was a departure from our more off-beat explorations.

The evening was sparked by the acquisition of the lesser known Glencadam, followed by a gift of the Glenlivet, a reminder that we had earlier intended to do a Glenmorangie night so had the start of a collection… and voila! A theme was born.

Tune in over the next few days to see what we thought of our night with these Glens.

Earlier tasting experiences with some “Glens” include:

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Krishna Collection – Glenlivet 19 year (1995/2015) 58.1%

India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula shared another dram… this time a Speyside from a well-known distillery – Glenlivet – from independent bottlers Signatory.

glvsig1995v3

Photo: Whisky Exchange

Glenlivet 19 year (30 Oct 1995/9 Sep 2015) 58.1%

CS No 166951, Sherry Butt, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection 431526. 526 Bottles.

  • Nose – Banana spice, clean, lightly herbal, strong start then bursts into a kaleidescope of colours from tea to bright citrus
  • Palate – Cereals, nutty, tasty and utterly delicious – think toast and marmalade
  • Finish – Back to being clean, yet somehow a little less satisfying

This was one of those whiskies that had a delightful nose, quite enjoyable dram yet had less complexity than the other whiskies sampled on that particular evening. Overall though a fine dram indeed.

Others from the 2015 collection:

Other whiskies sampled with Krishna include:

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Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Reserve 40%

Last in our original Mumbai whisky tasting group‘s October session was a no age statement Glenlivet.

Glenlivet is a global leader in single malt. They know scale. They know what the masses want. You will find Glenlivet practically everywhere. And generally at fairly reasonable prices too.

We sampled it blind, from a new bottle… and here is what we found…

glenlivet

Glenlivet Master Distiller’s Select 40%

  • Nose – Bit organic, sour curd, sour fruits, sweet and ‘green’
  • Palate – At first a burn, bit bitter, again that sense of being ‘green’, quite smooth with no depth
  • Finish – Medium with a hint of cinnamon

We found it quite light, again expected it would be 40% and while there was nothing specifically ‘wrong’ there was nothing that stood out as fabulously ‘right’ either.

The sense of being ‘green’ or young was clear and overall quite smooth. If anything, it was nice yet, well, rather bland.

Created for travel retail, it certainly wouldn’t be for anyone on a quest for something ‘different’ however it is sufficiently light and simple, you won’t realize when your glass is empty.

Here is what the folks over at Glenlivet have to say:

  • Colour – Bright, exuberant gold
  • Nose – Ripe pear, fudge
  • Palate – Fruit, pear, spice
  • Finish – Marzipan, fresh hazelnuts

The distillery shares it is triple cask matured in first fill American and ex-sherry oak.

What all did we try in our October session?

Other Glenlivet sampling sessions:

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Mixing things up – Connemara, Glengoyne, Glenlivet

After more than five years, our original Mumbai whisky tasting group has become known for pushing the boundaries with a focus on discovering new and different whiskies.

We’ve had home-made experiments with aging, phenomenal food pairings, independent bottlers, country specific themes, unique blends and more!

Which meant it was high time to revisit slightly different avatars of well known whiskies, completely blind to avoid the influence of advertising and pre-conceived notions.

glenlivet-connemara-glengoyne

What did we try?

No strangers to these brands, we’ve even previously had a session focused on Glenlivet, a couple of Glengoynes over the years and most have separately sampled Connemara.

What made it interesting is the order…

Traditionally, we would start with the lightest (Glenlivet) then sherry (Glengoyne) and close with a peated whisky (Connemara).

Here we did the exact opposite – peat, sherry, light! With some interesting results.

*Tasting notes coming soon

Related tasting sessions:

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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.