Saturday, December 10, 2011

“The Glenlivet Guardians”



Recently, I joined an organization called The Glenlivet Guardians. As a devout scotch lover, how could I not? After all, the club is not only free but they periodically hold meetings where you can meet others who appreciate this renowned spirit from Scotland, in addition to being e – mailed a monthly newsletter. One of the events they conduct is something referred to as The Nights Of Passage – a tasting which I was fortunate enough to attend right here in my hometown of New York City.

According to their Web site, The Glenlivet Nights Of Passage is an event for passionate scotch lovers to share their experiences with being introduced to a quality single malt which changed their life forever – and for the better. Brand Ambassadors from the company would attend the event to educate everyone on the balance of aroma and flavor of this scotch.

During the tasting, we learned that any scotch generally tends to have a subtle aroma of one or more of the following four characteristics: Fruity, Spicy, Floral or Smoky. Some may even have combinations. Because Glenlivet is made in a region of Scotland known as The Highlands, we would be tasting scotches that represented only three of those four aromas – the one not tried was the smoky one. The reason for this is that smoky scotches tend to be made in a region like Islay, which has a high concentration of peat; since Glenlivet is made in The Highlands – an area that doesn’t have much in the way of peat – they don’t make a smoky scotch. Glenlivet scotches are un-peated, which is the majority of scotch on the market (only 10% of scotches fall into the category of “peaty”).

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Glenlivet provided a 12 year old, 15 year old and 18 year old in its tasting on this evening. The 12 year old represented a fruitiness, the 15 year old was spicy and the 18 year old was more floral.

Immediately noticeable on the nose of the 12 year old was its fruitiness; adding a few drops of water actually enhanced its flavor and bouquet because some of the alcohol evaporated. This addition gave it a more profound nose and taste, making it more complex.

Speaking of complexity, the 15 year old was even more complex than the 12 year old due to the fact that it was aged in French Oak barrels. Although it contains some floral notes, spiciness is its main distinguishing quality – you tend to get this more on its taste than on its nose, where it leaves something of a warm cinnamon and pepper flavor on the palate.

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Finally, we tried the 18 year old – the characteristics of which were more profound on the aroma than on its flavor. Mainly a floral scotch, it nevertheless had hints of both spicy and fruity characteristics. The reason for the difference in this scotch is not only the length it is aged, but also how it is aged -- in oak barrels that were previously used to hold Spanish sherry. This infusion dominates the spirit both in its nose and in its taste.

If you live in or near cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas or Boston, then I strongly encourage you to join The Glenlivet Guardians because those cities seem to have a number of events held. Do you live elsewhere? Join The Guardians anyway – as I said, it’s free and you get a monthly newsletter to update you on the various goings-on. Additionally, their Web site contains a treasure trove of information that will help you to better your education about Scotch whisky.

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