Well, this is my first dive into Scotch Whisky. If you’ve browsed the site before then you’ve probably noticed I don’t have a single review. The reason behind that is because honestly Scotch scares me. I think I’ll like it too much and then I’ll be spending hundreds of dollars on whisky and it’ll spiral out of control. Ok, maybe not, I’m constantly learning more and more about Scotch so I figured I would finally take a stab at reviewing one and see how it goes. So for this review I chose Glenlivet 12.
I bought this bottle as a gift pack because it not only included the Glenlivet 12, but it also included sample bottles of the 15 and 18 year as well. On top of that it was only $44 to boot, so I figured hey I get to try out 3 whiskies for under $50 I’m sold. I had read many times that this particular blend is a great jumping off point for anyone looking to get into Scotch. In fact my 1001 Whiskies to try before you die book states this:
“It is extremely approachable, and well suited for introducing drinkers unfamiliar with single malts to the category.”
Well, that sums me up in one sentence so I guess I made a good choice on what to pick to dip my toes into.
A little bit of backstory into this Glenlivet 12. The Glenlivet, which is what the distillery is known as, was the first licensed distillery in Scotland. In the Speyside region of Scotland is where you can find this particular distillery. It’s on the North Eastern side of the country, not quite on the ocean but more inland.
This whisky is a single malt, that comes bottled at 80 proof or 40% abv. The majority of this whisky is aged in former bourbon barrels and the left over minority is matured in former sherry casks. I’m excited to crack open this bottle and pour a dram and see what all this Scotch whisky is about.
My initial look at this Glenlivet 12 reminds me of a very young/light bourbon. It has a very light color to it. There is also a cloudiness to the whisky that is similar to what I see in most wheat beers. It’s not quite as a golden as a wheat beer, it has a nice reddish hue to it. I tried to get some nice pictures of the whisky in my nosing glass, but unfortunately it has a giant Kentucky Bourbon Trail logo on it, so that kind of got in the way.
The bottle is a very classic looking bottle. Tall, thin and a dark green. The label on the front gives all kinds of information including the most noticeable information the “12 Year” stamp of approval. The label also has a little folklore about the brand on there for you. It talks about the placement of the distillery next to the river livet which is Gaelic for “smooth flowing one”. Lets crack this bad boy open and see what it has instore for us.
The first thing I notice when I put my nose up to the glass of this Glenlivet 12 is the immediate scent of vanilla. I recognize this aroma from all my bourbon tasting over the years. I’m not sure if vanilla is common place in the Scotch world, but that’s definitely what I picked up. I’m sure its that aroma from the use of the used bourbon barrels. Because the oak barrels add so much vanilla to the bourbon it has to come into the Scotch as well. This was the dominant note that I picked up, I was finding some sweet notes that seemed to be slightly fruity in nature, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it though.
This whisky was incredibly palatable and to be honest it was downright tasty. I honestly didn’t think I would like Scotch as much as I enjoyed this. It definitely is a nice entrance into the world of Scotch for me. The first thing I notice when taking a sip is lighter body of this whisky. I definitely picked up on the vanilla notes, and a hint of nuttiness as well. My first instinct is that this would go great with a cigar. Those two flavor profiles would probably pair well with a Nicaraguan cigar. So I’m saving the majority of this bottle to pair with some Nicaraguans that I have to see how the flavors behave with one another. Through the course of this dram I began picking up on some other subtle notes, I got a dose of caramel, which again is a very common flavor in bourbon. The one that I can’t quite pick out is the fruity note, I’m thinking it might be peach, or apricot, something along those lines. That’s what is triggering in my brain, but I can’t be 100% sure about it.
The finish for this Glenlivet 12 is fantastic, it’s a nice clean finish that’s not too thin. It makes the whisky feel medium bodied. It has a nice warm lingering to it as well. It doesn’t have that bourbon burn that I’m accustomed to. Instead it’s just a nice warm feeling that would get you through a chilly night.
Glenlivet 12: 9/10
I’m giving this whisky a 9/10 because I’m sure there is room for improvement in the whisky world, but I’m just starting off and I was blown away. I’m excited about this journey, I want to see where it takes me and if I become a Scotch drinker or not. I’m certainly taking a step in the right direction I believe. There is a lot more to learn about this fantastic world of whisky and I’m ready for the adventure!