Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Glenlivet Gathering



Single malt scotch, classic jazz and tasty hors d’oeuvres.   Well, if all of that sounds like the makings of a great evening, you’d be absolutely right.  That’s exactly what I enjoyed during a recent tasting of The Glenlivet at Union Square Wines & Spirits.  We were treated to a total of six Glenlivet expressions, plus one cocktail made with the scotch.  Guiding us throughout the event was Glenlivet Brand Ambassador for the Northeast, Craig Bridger, who was able to greatly enhance the tasting by explaining to the group the background of each item on the menu. 


Upon entering, we were immediately greeted with a cocktail – the classic Rob Roy, made with Glenlivet 12 Year.  As you may know, the Rob Roy is a cousin of another classic cocktail called The Manhattan – except it is made with scotch instead of rye or bourbon; it also includes sweet vermouth and a dash or two of Angostura bitters.  Typically, it is garnished with a cherry, however, this time, an orange peel was used instead; this was done to enhance the citrus notes in the scotch, which are easy to detect on taste, but not quite so much by its scent.  Craig told us that he decided to use this particular single malt because it’s got a slight smokiness to it, which tends to offset what would otherwise be sweet. 

Jazz_PortAfter that, we tried the single malt on its own.  An 80 proof scotch that comes in the iconic green glass bottle, this is the #1 selling single malt in the entire United States and as such, is regarded as the company’s flagship product.  Produced legally since 1824 (and illegally well before that), it is always worth revisiting even if you’ve tried this one in the past.  While most of its aging is the American bourbon barrel that is standard for scotch, it is finished in Spanish sherry casks.  This imparts it with fruit notes that include apples, pears and peach; on its finish, you will find a bit of honey and possibly some heather as well. 


Next up was Glenlivet’s French Oak Reserve, aged 15 years in former brandy and cognac barrels.  Both spicy and creamy on the palate, this has, without a doubt, a considerably more complex taste.  If you are a big fan of bourbon, you’ll probably love this. 

We then moved on to the 18 year old; at 86 proof, this has a slightly higher alcohol content than the first two.  With a silky feel on the tongue, one person even described it as “sexy”.  It is characterized by a rosy color due to being kept in Spanish sherry casks; the wood of these casks is not charred, but lightly toasted.  It tastes of dried fruit and dark chocolate, with a long, lingering finish on the tongue.  If the tasting had ended right here, I would’ve picked this as the best of the evening.  But then came a surprise.


At 108.6 proof, the 16 year old Nadurra was easily the best scotch of the evening; this is the one I recommend (and yes, I even bought a bottle at the conclusion).  It gets its name from the Gaelic word for “natural”.  Craig described this one as “the 12 year old on steroids”.  Made in small batches, it bears a label that not only displays its alcohol content, but also, the date of bottling and which batch number it was from.  The alcohol content can range from 54% to 59%; because of that, it is highly recommended that you do not drink it neat – in fact, our samples were served with a little water delivered via an eyedropper.  Nadurra is aged in first-fill bourbon barrels, which means no scotch was ever aged in the barrel previously.  Its taste has hints of fruit with what Craig informed us was ginger root on its finish. 




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