In the run-up to the launch of the oldest single malt ever bottled, a Glenlivet of no less than 80(!) years old, Gordon & MacPhail first comes with a series of 7 new releases, also all from Glenlivet. And I have the pleasure to review three of them.
The relationship between the Speyside distillery and Gordon & MacPhail has a long history, stretching back even further than 100 years. Because of that, G&M have access to a vast archive of rare and old Glenlivet, which makes it possible for them to release such extremely old single malts. And that brings us also to this series of 7, together comprising 4 decades of a liquid history lesson of Glenlivet.
This entire series has been specially selected to showcase the spirit of the Glenlivet distillery. That is already clearly visible in the three samples that I have in front of me here. Not only are they all from a different decade, but they are all matured in a different type of cask. Sounds interesting, right? So let’s go to the tasting notes because I’m very curious how this turned out. Who’s up for a bit of time travelling!
This 16 year old Glenlivet has matured in two refill bourbon barrels, cask no. 800671 and 800672. Bottled at a strength of 46% ABV.
Glenlivet 2004 tasting notes:
Nose: plenty of pears and vanilla. A touch of acacia honey. A zesty note, leaning towards oranges. Apples. Caramel fudge. A hint of shortbread.
Taste: soft caramel and vanilla. Pears again. Then lemons and a hint of pink grapefruit. White pepper and ginger.
Finish: mid-long. Pears and oranges again.
With this Glenlivet, we travel back in time to the 90s. And this 28 year old has matured in a refill American Hogshead (cask no. 71580). Bottled at 53.1% ABV.
Glenlivet 1993 tasting notes:
Nose: oh, this is really nice. A beautiful layer of tropical fruits, such as sweet Galia melon and mango, but also pineapple juice and a hint of bananas. A note of butterscotch and plenty of honey. Vanilla. Lime peels and a touch of marzipan. Later also a floral note and a faint hint of oak.
Taste: those lovely tropical fruits again, with mainly fresh pineapple and apricots. Followed by sweet honey and marzipan. Milk chocolate. A hint of sweet grapefruit. Then some spices, such as black pepper and a touch of nutmeg. Again a faint hint of oak.
Finish: a long finish with lemon zest and pineapple. Honey. Oak and a pinch of black pepper.
Last but not least, a 44 year old Glenlivet (yes, that’s older than yours truly!) which has also matured in a 1st fill sherry hogshead and is bottled at a strength of 51.3% ABV.
Glenlivet 1976 tasting notes:
Nose: absolutely stunning. Dried fruits, such as raisins and plums. Then black cherries. Oranges and a nice thick layer of dark chocolate. A hint of leather. Demerara sugar in the back. Followed by honey and also toffee. A little bit of maple syrup too. Water adds pears and hazelnuts.
Taste: really dark chocolate and toffee. Black tea, tobacco leaves and leather. Black cherries and a hint of red berries, but oranges too. Then a touch of balsamic vinegar. Followed by honey. An oak note, followed by spices, such as black pepper, and cloves. A little bit of ginger and a herbal note. A bit of water adds more fruitiness: pears, red apples and more of the oranges.
Finish: long with mostly oak, black pepper and liquorice. But also black tea and fresh raspberries.
Overall: The nose of the Glenlivet 2004 is really nice and promises a lot, but that is just a little less on the palate and finish, where it is somewhat one-dimensional on some points. I expected just a little more there, but overall it’s a nice dram just not something special.
But then the Glenlivet 1993… I am completely in love with this dram. It’s stunning. Now, I am a sucker of tropical fruit flavours and they abound here. It’s super fruity and very nicely balanced. A gorgeous dram!
The Glenlivet 1976 is a classic sherry bomb. The Glenlivet character is a bit less present here, but it’s very, very good. It is not too dry or harsh in any way, which you often see with those types of sherry-matured whiskies from a certain age. This once again shows how good the cask management really is at Gordon & MacPhail, as it has resulted in a beautifully complex single malt.
All in all, it was a great way to taste three totally different styles and decades of Glenlivet, from modern to old and bourbon to sherry. Really well done!
Samples provided by Gordon & MacPhail