Thanks to /u/bradbobaggin for sharing this sample with me.
We’ve all had Glenlivet at some point. It’s really a turning point for whisky nerds. If you tried a standard release of Glenlivet (be it the old age stated, or the rum aged one from this summer, or a NAS release) you either decided it was inexpensive and you’ll drink that now, you don’t like it (and at some point found a different whisky you love), or you wanted something more.
Given that Glenlivet’s special releases aren’t cask strength (typically) you looked in other places. Perhaps you tried more. In my case I kept trying some Glenlivet, but it was also one of those whiskies that came up as “entry level” (in other words as someone who has had so many whiskies, why am I going back to it).
I think that’s too simplistic. There’s always a chance a whisky will pop up that you love, and you don’t want to be sitting there after saying “I don’t like X distillery” to then like one. And it works the other way too: I’m an Ardbeg fan, but Blasda is still one that I don’t like.
Enter Glenlivet 10 2006 Signatory Un-Chillfiltered Collection, a bottle selected by Spec’s Texas, from Glenlivet. Now normally I’d scan over a whisky like this: Nothing against Spec’s (if anything the selection they made speaks highly of it for me). However Glenlivet and not cask strength isn’t wowing me. First Fill Sherry? Got me back.
Luckily I went for it, to keep trying. So while today we’re not exploring Glenlivet in how I’d love to explore it (cask strength) but we are trying one that is a single cask, is from a cask I enjoy, and was picked by someone other than the distillery. All of that
Distilled: November 21, 2006
Bottled: May 19, 2017
Cask Type: First Fill Sherry Butt
Cask Number: 901271
Number of bottles: 839
Bottled for: Spec’s Texas
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Green apples, caramel, herbal, limestone
Tart green apple. So there you have it. I aimed to try something different from Glenlivet and I got the main note it’s known for.
Before I beat myself up more than I typically do, there is a lovely mineral note here. Beyond that… Yup, it’s Glenlivet.
Taste: Honey, butter, brown sugar, grapefruit
Ok, I’m better now. Why? Because it’s honey, brown sugar, and balanced with tart acidity.
Is it amazing and totally changing everyone’s mind about Glenlivet? No. It’s sweet, has strong flavours, and frankly the only thing that was different was the grapefruit.
Finish: Brown sugar, brine, pickling spice, cinnamon
Alright I’ve been harsh so far, but this is different. It has elements that I associate with rye more than whisky. And also more Island based scotches, with the salt.
Lots of spice. It really awakens at the end.
Conclusion: A slight improved character over the OB, but seriously, why water down an IB? What’s the point? That’s like wearing a hat as a shoe.
The whole idea of single casks means something different from the standard. And the nose here was standard, the taste was different (for Glenlivet) and the finish was actually quite nice.
If you’re looking for an improvement over the standard offerings, this is a baby step. It was slightly more interesting.
Scotch review #1414, Speyside review #398, Whisky Network review #2094