June 23, 2009

The Glenlivet Portfolio

Bill Dowd photo

Today, the Glenlivet portfolio has grown under the ownership of the international corporation Pernod Ricard to include six whiskies -- the basic 12-year-old expression, a 15-year-old French oak reserve, the Nadurra (Celtic for “natural”) 16-year-old, as well as 18- and 21-year-old expressions and, for just the past eight months, the XXV, a 25-year-old. The Glenlivet Cellar Collection also has seven releases, with the 1972 expression the latest on the market.

• 12-Year-Old

Much of the signature honey and floral flavors are immediately accesible, with a soft finish leaving a trace of vanilla on the palate.

Suggested retail price range: $42 and up.

• 15-Year-Old French Oak

My particular favorite among the Glenlivets. It spends 12 years in used American white oak barrels, then a portion of it is matured in French Limousin oak before being returned to the whole. It is the only Glenlivet that uses French oak. It presents citrus and cedar notes in the opening nose and everything from pepper to mango on the tongue, with a long, clean slightly spicy finish.

Suggested retail price range: $49 to $54.


This is aged in American white oak, with a small amount finished in used oloroso sherry casks to make use of the softer, more porous wood that helps intensify the notes of fruit, nuts and florals, with honey, banana and almonds the most pronounced flavors.

Suggested retail price: $80.


Some charred wood comes through from the used American oak casks, along with slightly more fruit and spiciness than in the 18. The color runs to deep amber, and the flavor profile to pears, spiced oranges and vanilla with a delicate yet lingering finish.

Suggested retail price: $100 to $112.

• Nadurra

This is a cask strength whisky (115.2 proof, or 56.1% alcohol by volume) best sampled as a 3-to-1 water-to-whisky mixture. It is non-chill filtered, which means it could get cloudy on the shelf. Nothing wrong with that. The flavor is light, yet crisp, quickly giving way to intense notes of honey and toffee. Long, lingering finish.

Suggested retail price: $60 to $65.


This is 23 years in American white oak, two years in oloroso sherry casks, and worth the wait. A creamy orange and honey flavor, with definite elements of almonds and ginger in a complex structure.

Suggested retail price: $330 and up.

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