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Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Back To The Beginning

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@talexanderReview by @talexander

2nd Aug 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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After a fantastic vacation with my daughter in Vancouver, I came back home to...being sick. It has not been pleasant but now that I'm on the mend, I thought I would get back into the writing with something simple, basic, not too complicated. It doesn't really get easier than this one.

Although the Glenlivet distillery has been around since time immemorial ("the single malt that started it all" was licensed in 1824, but was well active before then), the 12 year old was not introduced until 1933, after Prohibition ended (before that, it had no age statement). It was heavily promoted in the US, which remains the #1 market for the malt. As you might guess from the flavour profile, 99% of the spirit is matured in ex-bourbon casks, the remaining 1% in ex-sherry casks.

The colour is a marigold yellow, with golden highlights. On the nose, lightly floral (with a bit of lavender, which is not my favourite) and fruity (pineapple, mandarin orange), with an underpinning of barley sugar. The barest hint of oak. Simple and straightforward, not complex but classically Speyside. A drop of water doesn't seem to do much.

On the palate, a bit more caramel and vanilla, a wee bit spicy with some cinnamon. You get baked apples this time around. A nice, creamy mouth-feel, which is improved with a drop of water.

On the finish - not so great. A little rough, not as smooth as you would think given how gentle the other elements of the malt are. Toffee and more vanilla, perhaps even the faintest hint of sulphur, and some pepper at the end. Though it seems to have more body to it than I remember (Dave Broom agrees, writing that they have improved their wood policy), there are no surprises here. The 2nd best-selling malt in the world is some distance away from the leading Glenfiddich 12, but still remains a good introductory malt for those starting their exploration, as I did - I remember this being one of the first Scotches I've ever tried.

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