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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Going Vertical with The Glenlivet

Tuesday tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we make a virtual visit to Scotland to do a vertical tasting of four malts from a storied distillery.

I’ve had the opportunity to taste quite a few different beers, wines and spirits over the years. It is always interesting to compare and contrast the flavor profiles of different products from competing companies. It can also be extremely interesting to gather the products of a single firm together and do a tasting that examines a range of the products they have on the market. Not long ago I had the opportunity to bring together four different whiskies from The Glenlivet, a Speyside distillery that makes perhaps the most famous Single Malt brand.

The Glenlivet Distillery was founded by George Smith in 1824 in a rugged area of Scotland where illicit stills thrived when the English attempted to impose heavy taxes on distillers. It is said that the glen of the Livet’s spring water makes especially delicate whiskies. The mountain setting offers cool conditions that are favorable for distilling. Clearly a combination of factors help make The Glenlivet one of the most popular whisky brands in the world.

The company has eight different Single Malts on the market. Three in what they call “Travel Retail,” a 12-year-old “First Fill,” 15-year-old and 16-year-old “Nadurra;” Three in the “Core Range,” 12-year-old, 15-year-old French Oak Reserve and 18-year-old; and two “Ultra Premiums,” with a 21-year-old and a “Cellar Collection” that features a 1972 vintage that was released earlier this year. In tasting four of these whiskies it was interesting to see the wide range of flavors that can come from a single distillery.

The Glenlivet 15-Year-Old French Oak Reserve: This 80-proof Scotch is golden in color and starts off with a shot of smoke and pepper. There are hints of vanilla in the finish. ($50)

The Glenlivet 18-year-old: This 86-proof whisky has hints of green grass, honey and fresh oak. There is a combination of spices in the warm finish. ($70)

The Glenlivet Archive: This 21-year-old whisky is a tarnished brass color. There is nice oak and slight smoke up front in this 86-proof Scotch that gives way to a complex flavor of bitter chocolate and orange peel. ($130)

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1972: A cask strength whisky at 104.6 proof, it is amazingly vital for a whisky of its age. There are hints of floral in the nose and a solid peat-base to a classic Scotch flavor. Only 800 bottles were made available to the U.S. market in 2006. ($700)

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