As a proud member of The Glenlivet Guardians, I am occasionally honored to receive invitations from this renowned organization to attend some very special private tastings of their venerable scotch. There are certain tastings called The Nights Of Passage where new Guardian members are both introduced to – and educated about – the scotch, the company that manufactures it and its history. Recently, I was excited to get another invitation to such an event – an evening I looked forward to witch great anticipation, having attended last year’s.
Immediately upon entry, we were generously welcomed with numerous drams of The Glenlivet 12 year old, which were served either neat, on the rocks or with a drop or two of water – your choice. While we sipped and awaited the commencement of the ceremonies, the group was then treated to quite a few tasty hors d’oeuvres served either hot or cold; they ranged from savory to refreshing and were well-paired with the drinks. With this kind of a greeting, the excitement was palpable.
Eventually, we were brought into the tasting area, which felt more like a combination of livingroom and classroom replete with multimedia system components. At each station was a setup with three glasses, each containing a dram of a different expression of The Glenlivet – the 12 year old, the 15 year old and the 18 year old, each one specially picked to illustrate how distinctly the taste can be influenced based on how it is aged.
Leading us through the evening was Craig Bridger, The Glenlivet Brand Ambassador for the Northeast. He pointed out that scotch flavors generally tend to fall into any one of four categories known as Top Notes: Fruity, Spicy, Floral or Smoky. Because The Glenlivet is unpeated, none of the expressions we would be sampling on this evening contain a Smoky characteristic. That left the remaining three categories to be found in each of the drams that were being offered to us at the tasting.
In the first of the tulip-shaped glasses, we tried The Glenlivet 12 year old. While you can detect elements of all of the first three Top Notes in its scent, Fruity is probably the most dominant. Some found that on the finish, you could pick up spiced pineapple and apricot in the back of the palate.
Next was the 15 year old, which was aged in French oak barrels, yielding a much greater complexity. Subtle spiciness of cinnamon and nutmeg can be found when tasted; it’s got a somewhat creamy texture to it, reminiscent of caramel.
Finally, the 18 year old, which is probably the most highly regarded of all of The Glenlivet’s offerings. With a silky smooth feeling in your mouth, this one highlighted the Floral Top Note. Attendees found chocolate and toffee in its taste; this, we were informed, was due to the fact that it is finished in Spanish sherry casks.
At the evening’s conclusion, all attendees were presented with a gift of a pair of whisky glasses bearing the official logo of The Glenlivet. While I already have a wide-ranging set of many whisky glasses, I was nevertheless glad to get such a fine memento of this outstanding event.