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I bought the Glenlivet 12 a while back. It's good. It's light. My girlfriend loves it. For me, it's something that I would drink and forget minutes later. Not because it's bad, but it's just not very memorable. It's what you offer to someone who wants to try whisky for the first time, or what you drink if you want a refreshing dram on a hot summer day. One might call it the "Corona" of whiskies, if I may make a beer analogy here (or is that considered blasphemy on a whisky site?).
For about twice the price, you can buy something considerably more mature and complex. It's a deeper, darker 'livet, but still not too heavy.
Nose: Baked apple pie, with lots of cinnamon and brown sugar. The citrus/brine notes on the nose of the 12 do not make an appearance, but are replaced by a more mature, spiced scent. Very fruity. Fresh pears are here, too, with bananas and burnt vanilla. A complex nose. For me, this marks the highlight of the experience.
The tastes follow the nose. It's a ridiculously smooth, medium bodied dram with some wonderful complexity. White pepper, cinnamon, apples, pears, brown sugar, etc. Basically the body delivers on (almost) everything the nose promises. American oak comes in a bit later, weaving nicely in with the lingering spices. Great finish.
This dram is basically what you'd expect to get from a mature Glenlivet. It's got the smooth, inoffensive every-man qualities that makes the brand so popular, but with the wonderful mature complexity that comes with age. However, I may not buy this one again, at least not for a while. Where I live it is literally double the price of the 12. The 12 is certainly not as good. But is it worth paying double for? Don't get me wrong, it truly is considerably better than the twelve. I've yet to see how the 15 year old French oak measures up, but I digress...
I'm sure I'll grab another bottle down the line eventually. It is very good, but given its price, it won't be a mainstay in the cabinet. Now, if only I could get the girlfriend to stop mixing it with coke when the Walker runs out...