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The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

Review: The Glenlivet 12 Year Old (Single Malt)  87/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on July 04, 2018

The Glenlivet Distillery is located near Ballindalloch in Moray, Scotland. The Distillery was founded in 1824. It remained open during the first World War as well as and through the Great Depression with its only during World War II. The Glenlivet brand is owned by the French conglomerate Pernod Ricard, and has grown to be largest selling single malt whisky in North America and the second largest selling single malt whisky globally.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old is the flagship whisky in the Glenlivet core line-up. According to the Glenlivet website:

Representing The Glenlivet’s signature style, this classic malt is first matured in traditional oak, before spending time in American oak casks which impart notes of vanilla and gives the whisky it’s distinctive smoothness. The mineral-rich water that comes from Josie’s Well helps form the flavours during mashing and fermentation, whilst the specific height and width of the copper stills add a delicate yet complex character.

The spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Most of my review is in the form of my actual tasting notes which were written during a recent private tasting of several Scotch Whiskies. I have added limited commentary to these tasting notes as well as new tasting notes for serving the spirit over ice and in a cocktail which I did on my own after the event using small minis which were provided.

In the Bottle: 5/5

The presentation of The Glenlivet 12 Year Old is first-rate. The single malt whisky is housed in a smart grey box (not shown) and an attractive green bottle. The box and bottle label use a colour and font scheme which is easy on the eyes and which bring class to the presentation. Information about the brand is included on both the front label of the bottle as well as on the display box to inform the potential consumer about the brand. As well the year 1824, when the Glenlivet brand was founded, is proudly displayed just under the neck on the bottle. Everything is topped with a nice red foil wrapped cork topper.

In the Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Pale Gold indicating that very few of those traditional oak casks used to age the whisky were first fill sherry barrels. Maybe a few were 2nd Fill?

Legs: Medium-small droplets which develop into  slender legs which fall slowly.

Initial Aroma: Malt whisky and dry fruit, raisins, butterscotch, vanilla, almond orange peel and fine oak spice

Decanted Aroma: Building oak spice, marmalade, raisin and red licorice. Almond persists, but now I notice an additional fruitiness of canned peaches and apricots. Poplar wood, willow and grassy heather start to form as well.

The interesting thing here is that the way the scents and smells meld into each other. The whisky appears to be very well-balanced.

In The Mouth 51.5/60

Alcohol push and Spice: Very smooth with no alcohol bite, however the wood spice is certainly pleasant.

Initial Taste: A nice melding of flavours which are hard to separate. Wood spice, vanilla, almond, butterscotch toffee and raisins?

Follow up: The Malt flavour is more apparent on second sip as are accents of heather and mint. Again the flavours are melded together very well. I think the blenders have done a wonderful job keeping the dram smooth and approachable.

With Ice: Some nice milk chocolate flavours come forward.

Mixed: I mixed a modified old-fashioned with Triple Sec used as the sweetener and replaced the Angostura Bitters with Chocolate Bitters. I thought the combination of orange and chocolate would work really well with the whisky. I was right.

In The Throat: 13/15

Body and Length: Medium bodied with a nice smooth finish

Flavours during Swallow: butterscotch, vanilla, Malt barley and almond

Lingering Flavours: Butterscotch toffee, wood spice, heather and menthol

The Afterburn  9/10

Final Thoughts: This is a great whisky! It is smooth and nuanced with flavours so well melded that it was very hard to discern individual flavours. Easy to sip and enjoy and great for Old Fashioned Cocktails.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Suggested Recipe:

Old Fashioned with Chocolate Bitters

1 1/2 oz Glenlivet 12 Year Old
1/3 oz  Bols Triple Sec
Dash Fees Aztec Chocolate Bitters
2 large Ice Cubes
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first four ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


As always you may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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