Being the second-largest single malt brand in the world, whisky production at Glenlivet is all about consistency. To an extent, that is the case at almost every Scotch whisky distillery, but being as big as Glenlivet is, consistency is probably even more key. Consumers expect the The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve to be the same wherever and whenever they drink it. Batch variation is pretty much non-existent.
However, it’s that variation that makes a distillery interesting for an independent bottler. Ideally they can get their hands on a cask that showcases new aspects of a distillery not often seen before. The question: is an independently bottled Glenlivet interesting and different enough from the “real thing.” Or is it just a higher strength version of what is already readily available—which admittedly could be interesting enough to begin with.
Glenlivet 2002 15 Years Old (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Batch 18/090)
Nose: Sweet vanilla notes as well as lavender drops, dandelion and a candy-esque floral influence. The latter basically sums up my initial impression of the nose. It does develop though, into semolina pudding and light citrus notes. Taste: Intense wood spices and a with a proper bit of heat, a hint of menthol, ginger and cloves as well. Fiery stuff. Let’s see if I can get it to calm down a bit. A teaspoon of water improves things, although that harshness does not subside completely. It does bring out a bit lime and kiwi though. Finish: Lingering spices and oak. Long.
Well, it’s definitively different from what Glenlivet themselves releases. But at 15 years old, I find this remarkably unpolished. The nose is fun, different and interesting, the palate is a little too intense to my liking.