Review: Glenlivet 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 Years
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glenlivet (Ballindaloch, Scotland)

This is one of the top 2 selling single malts in the world, competing with the Glenfiddich. Indeed, it was the first scotch whisky I ever had, at the time thinking it tasted like grassy vodka. Glen Livet means valley of the smooth place, surrounding the Livet river. It is well known for being the first distillery to be granted a licence after the Excise Act in 1823, a highly influential act which started the modern Scotch whisky industry by encouraging conditions for investment into small scale production facilities.

Of course, at the time, there was a fair bit of animosity between the Scottish and the English, and there was a bit of rebellious pride in illicit distilling – and the glenlivet valley was known as one of the best producers of whisky. Thus, when the distillery took out a licence there was a lot of animosity from the other distillers, requiring the owner to carry around pistols to protect himself! However, the move worked, allowing the commercial expansion of the distillery and shortly many of the other illicit highland distillers followed suit. The glenlivet started to produce light spirit, in contrast to many of the heavy (and ugly) spirits of the time, and quality was improved, and the malt continues on today in extreme popularity.

Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2012

Nose: Very malty, with apples, honey, raisins, and a light touch of vanilla. Fairly simple...floral and a touch grassy with some notes of pineapple, and this seems to come out more and more as I taste further. I also get notes of malt vinegar – without the sourness.

Taste: A sweet entry with some maltiness which morphs to some fruity apple notes before the maltiness, a light touch of earthiness, and more malt with raisins and some spice to finish off the deal and the lightest touch of earthy smoke. The honey is present throughout, along with a bit of grassiness and chamomile. Quite sweet, but it’s not overly sweet.

Finish: Lots of malt and honey, with a touch of spice. There’s a hint of oak, but, as throughout this whisky – it’s very light. The finish isn’t that long or big, but it has a nice medium-level weight to it.

This is light, easy going, and pleasant...a good casual and social dram.

Value: Average, at $57.