The Glenlivet drew my attention straight out of the box, coming swathed as it does in a delightful waxed paper, printed with the emblem of the distillery. Entirely irrelevant to the taste, of course – there are no points for pleasing packaging – but worthy of note. For their lowest-priced single malt, they’ve still made an effort.
It pours a promising, very pure gold, and has a nose so strong that you’ll probably get a tantalising waft well before you begin to get into the glass with any seriousness. The scent is one of the most immediately distinctive I’ve encountered, greeting you with a clarion call of crisp apple. This recedes slightly into a more demure apple wood, but is certainly memorable. A very little further engagement reveals a host of similar scents. Autumn fruits are prevalent, but also a note at once reminiscent of banana and those foam sweets you get at sweet shops for a penny. The generally fruity character is accented with cinnamon and other spices, notably clove.
On the tongue, even at 40% there’s quite a bite, so a little water doesn’t go amiss. The initial sensation is strongly alcoholic, which clears to reveal quite a complex character for a whisky that becomes quite light on the palate. In the mouth it’s more mutely fruity than the nose, with the suggestion of almonds or marzipan layered beneath. Returning to nose the whisky intensifies the fruity character, now matured into a rich toffee with a light woodiness to it.
The finish begins, as the body had, with quite a bite – you have to be reasonably quick to enjoy the taste in between! The harsh initial quality fades through the now-familiar fruit notes into a lightly woody finish. You might also notice a slightly tart, berry flavour at times. The finish is surprisingly inconsistent, so go back to it a few times and you’ll more than likely discover something new on each occasion. Not the top of my list, but memorable (pleasantly so – you’ll be drawn back to it to check the accuracy of your recollection) and with several strongly positive features.
Nose 21 Taste 17 Finish 16 Balance 20