For years now, Glenlivet has been the second best-selling single malt whisky in the world, bested only by Glenfiddich. In the United States they are actually all the way at the top. Glenlivet is a massive success, and I can only applaud that.
However, that also means Glenlivet is mass-produced. Usually, that’s not a great sign for someone like me (and probably yourself). I appreciate the little inconsistencies that elevate a single malt whisky. At Glenlivet and other big Scotch brands, it’s all about buffing and polishing those faults.
I realise I am not an average whisky consumer. I guess you could say I’m in the one percent group, and yes, I do understand the negative connotations that term holds. I’m not part of that group in terms of wealth, but I most certainly am in terms of the amount and quality of whiskies I (get to) taste. I am fucking spoiled, and I know it. When I think of Glenlivet, this unicorn comes to mind. That’s not normal.
That’s not to say that if you’re like me, you should discard brands like Glenlivet altogether. I know of plenty not very enlightened souls that not only spit on (or in) blends because of their Olympian approach to whisky, but also roll their eyes at the big brands. That’s stupid, and you won’t see me do that.
I always try to keep a steady diet of official distillery releases going – many of them could be branded as entry-level malts, or slightly above. Back to basics, is what I could call it, but even that can be denigrating, as so many people would be in awe of something like the Glenlivet 18 Years Old. It sometimes is easy to get lost in the world of rare, old, expensive offerings of whisky, but it’s useful to gain some perspective every once in a while.
Glenlivet 18 Years Old (2017)
Nose: Fresh with tropical fruits, balanced and elegant. Nectarines, orange peel and a whiff of sultanas. There’s a touch of red apples and rose petals too, followed by a hint of sour beer. Good stuff though.
Taste: Somewhat acidic and slightly tannic even, but the balance is restored with a few sweeter notes. Lemon zest, oranges, candied hearts, honey, but also a small amount of ginger.
Finish: A hint of caramel, but also burnt toast and pepper.
Quite a robust single malt from Glenlivet with a nice complexity, although a tad too oak driven at times. Overall there’s not much too fault here. Actually, if I dare say, it’s pretty good.