Whisky Connosr

Glenlivet 12 Illicit Still

Pearfectly Malty

8 589

@RianCReview by @RianC

7th Oct 2021


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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This bottle was my first ever taste of any Glenlivet which seems surprising to me. Just how did that slip me by? The general blab about this release is that it is pretty much the standard 12 but without the chill-filtration and bottled at a weighty 48%. Still has colour added though which some might find a touch odd. Either way, kudos to them for putting this out there - it's reassuring to see some of the bigger players beginning to offer more of these types of whisky and I think they deserve credit where it's due.

That said, the most important question is 'how does it taste'? I'd say 'how does it compare' instead but I honestly don't know ... Review is neat, sat for fifteen mins or so. Bottle is two-thirds full and been open a few months.

Nose - a big hit of pears upfront but this is the most complex pear note I've ever come across. Fresh, tinned and candied (pear drops) are all in there. There's other fruits as well like melon, green apple and a touch of banana. A floral side too with some rose water. A wisp of toffee sits underneath all the fruit along with a variety of oak notes - I suspect a mix of first and re-fill casks at play. No peat but a little charred note is in there. Very little spice too, maybe some white pepper and a little baker's ginger, and some fragrant wood notes like sandalwood incense.

Taste - Creamy, oily and thick mouth-feel with the ex-bourbon casks showing themselves. More complex pear notes, especially the sweetie kind, banana chips and more helpings of toffee. The oak is more restrained than expected yet there is some subtle vanilla, and it becomes very malty, almost beer like, as it develops. This is one rich and sweet dram yet it never feels cloying or too much. In fact, it's dangerously quaffable.

Water really isn't required and I prefer it neat. A wee splash though heightens the floral and wood notes but thins out the rich mouth-feel and oily texture.

Finish - med- long. Some dryness appears with a hint of tannins but the overall impression is one of caramel and sweet, tropical fruit syrup. You simply want another sip.

Well what a find this was! I suspect the standard 12 pales next to this but I can say with certainty that whatever they're doing here is working just fine. I'm not generally a fan of pear notes in whisky but here the complexity of those flavours makes it much more interesting and enjoyable. The rest of the flavours are quite clear and precise and whilst not being the most complex dram out there, it certainly gives one's palate a good whack.

I will happily admit to having my expectations exceeded with this one.

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casualtorture commented

I was very glad to see this hit the market. 48% and NCF, on my list of things to try. Thanks for the review.

2 years ago 3Who liked this?

RianC commented

@casualtorture - Cheers! If you see it, I wouldnt hesitate to pull the trigger.

2 years ago 0

Nozinan commented

I am trying to purchase less, but this is one I would grab if I saw it. I like the 16 YO Nadurra and in the past have found the 12 quite drinkable, and so this must be a step up from the latter.

2 years ago 2Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

Nice review @RianC. I haven't tried it, but a friend assures me that this is not your dad's Glenlivet 12. On my shopping list.

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

Hewie commented

Hey, great review buddy. Surprisingly there is still so much of this available here in NZ and well priced - yet I still haven't tried it. My whisky friends say it's quite fruity and sweet. For the price it seems like a no-brainer. Thanks for the confirmation

2 years ago 3Who liked this?