Archive for the ‘Glenlivet’ Category


GlenlivetAlphaBig thanks to the folks at Deep Focus, a social media agency working with The Glenlivet, for sending me a free sample of the new Glenlivet Alpha expression that has only 3350 bottles shipping worldwide (not sure how many are coming to the U.S.). Especially since I’ve been flying under the whisky radar this past year (I’ll post more on that later). I haven’t checked out all of the marketing details, but apparently there is going to be a big “reveal” for Alpha in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and post some thoughts on the whisky while it is still something of a mystery (the box only states that it is a Single Malt bottled at 50% abv). The U.S. retail price is $120.

Tasting Notes

On the nose, my first impression is of cinnamon apples. Then vanilla custard, and finally some fresh wood shavings. Then back to the fruit, of the apples and pears variety. Looking online now at other reviews, I see people talking about lots of tropical fruits. Personally, that’s not the way I respond to this. It doesn’t strike me as tropical in the same way as something like Glenmorangie 18 year. But of course, this is all subjective.

On the palette, it starts out mouth-watering and juicy, sweet, then very slightly prickly on the tongue. There is a point where it becomes slightly nutty, and just as I start to expect a slight walnut bitterness, it pulls back. Very nice. It’s smooth as silk…almost buttery going down. It then becomes drying on the finish, before my mouth waters up again. A very enjoyable, if not particularly long, experience.

Update: On finishing my sample last night, I felt like there was some citrus included in the ample fruitiness. Primarily on the palate and finish. I Still don’t get pineapples or coconut. That doesn’t mean I think everybody else is crazy. Just some insight into my own taste interpretation.


The Glenlivet Alpha is an extremely drinkable expression that would be great for sharing with all levels of whisky drinkers. It strikes me as a Special Edition release of their Nadurra expression. The overall flavor profile (especially on the nose) is quite similar. However, the Alpha has an extra silky smoothness to it relative to Nadurra, in the same way the 17 year finished Balvenie expressions relate to the 15 year single barrel. Though, I don’t detect anything resembling the typical “finishing” casks of sherry or wine in Alpha.

So what is it?

If this is a game, and we’re supposed to guess what the heck is in this black Alpha bottle, I’d have to guess a combination of first-fill and second-fill American White Oak bourbon barrels were used to mature the spirit. There is no sign of coloring or chill filtration (like Nadurra). Age? That’s a hard one. Is the extra buttery smoothness in the mouth over the Nadurra due to age, or is it related to the type of casks used? Not sure. I could believe a number of scenarios: 1) It’s a year or two older than the 16 year Nadurra. 2) They use a combination of refill casks and smaller quarter casks to give the impression of extra maturity, while keeping the oak in check, or 3) this is just the result of very carefully selected casks by the master distiller.


Did I really enjoy this whisky? Yes. Am I going to seek out a bottle? No. Do I think you’re an idiot if you do? No.

I really like this whisky, but for me, the 16 year Nadurra (at $50/bottle locally) is close enough in profile to keep me satisfied. On the other hand, I have no immediate issues with the price of Alpha. They are saying that it was “carefully crafted” by the master distiller, and it is a limited release of 3,350 bottles. It’s not going to be for everybody, but then, the limited run kind of takes care of that. 🙂

I’ve seen much higher prices asked for “carefully selected” expressions…how about the Diageo Manager’s Choice a few years ago? Talk about crazy pricing. These things work themselves out, though. A bunch of those Manager’s Choice bottles can still be had at 40% discounts online. So far, The Glenlivet Alpha is selling out quickly. The UK allocation disappeared immediately. If, upon commencing with their “reveal” on Facebook later this week, people are outraged by what they hear, then I’d expect that feedback to influence future releases.

If they keep their main line whiskies priced reasonably, and of high quality, what’s the harm in experimenting with various boutique releases aimed at smaller segments of the market? I look forward to learning more about the story behind The Glenlivet Alpha.

B+ on my scale


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The Glenlivet is getting ready to roll out new packaging across the core line. I don’t generally post these press releases, as I’m sure you’ll see this info popping up in more prominent blogs and web sites. However, this one stands out to me because of the new Glenlivet 18 Year bottle design. Note the heavier base on this one, to match the 21 Year Archive and 25 Year expressions. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a price bump to go along with this change, so you might want to keep your eyes and ears open for any price changes if you’re a big 18 year fan, and buy a few bottles at current prices if that seems to be happening.

On a side note, I think the new design is pretty sweet. 🙂

Press Release


The Glenlivet, the world’s No 2 single malt Scotch whisky, has revealed striking new packaging to provide the ‘single malt that started it all’ with an enhanced luxurious and sophisticated look, in line with its position in the super premium spirits category.

The new packaging to be implemented across the core range, comprising The Glenlivet 12 Year Old, 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve, 18 Year Old and Nàdurra, will remain recognisably The Glenlivet, yet offer a more contemporary, elegant look. Available in all markets including duty free, the new bottles are enhanced with higher shoulders, a shorter neck and an enlarged base giving them a stronger presence, while the embossed stamp of the whisky’s founding family ‘George & J. G. Smith’, continues to portray the legacy and heritage of The Glenlivet. As a strong point of reference for consumers, the cartouche, which indicates the brands history dating back to 1824, has been given a more prominent position on a raised platform.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old bottle will retain its iconic green colour, recognised by consumers the world over, while the 15 Year Old French Oak Reserve will move to a clear bottle for the first time to showcase the rich golden colour of the whisky. Both expressions will be presented in a new, luxury carton with premium cues to increase gift appeal, while additional information highlighting the whisky’s quality credentials will benefit both aficionados and new drinkers.

The packaging upgrade has seen The Glenlivet 18 Year Old elevated to align with the ultra-premium and prestige expressions within the range including The Glenlivet 21 Year Old and The Glenlivet XXV. Changes to the 18 Year Old bottle design, including the heavier base, signify its status as the most awarded expression in the range and the whisky favoured by many distillery workers. The new bottle is housed in a significantly upgraded permanent gift box.

In addition, The Glenlivet Nàdurra, the non-chill filtered expression in the range, will also be presented in a new, bolder bottle and feature the logos and icons seen across the range while maintaining the individual character of the artisanal, highly crafted whisky.

Neil Macdonald, Brand Director for Malts at Chivas Brothers, comments: “The Glenlivet is recognised by whisky aficionados around the world as an exquisite, premium whisky, and our new elegant packaging will confidently reflect this quality with its striking new shape and luxury cues.

“The stylish bottles and gift cartons will offer increased on-shelf stand-out for the on and off trade and will support our ambition to see The Glenlivet become the No 1 selling malt whisky in the world.”

Since 2005, The Glenlivet has been the biggest contributor to the global single malt category and is only the second single malt to achieve sales of over 600,000 9l cases. In 2010 The Glenlivet completed its £10 million distillery expansion increasing production capacity by 75% to meet global demand.

New Glenlivet bottle design

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I recently purchased miniature (50ml) bottles of Chivas Regal 12, The Glenlivet 12, and Glenfiddich 12 so that I could compare the three and see if any one of them stands out as an entry level value for a “light” whisky. When I call them “entry level” whiskies, I mean that in two ways. First is price. I can get Chivas for $20 and the ‘livet for $26. The ‘fiddich 12 has gone up recently in Phoenix, and now goes for $35, but it used to be closer to the Glenlivet. The other way you might consider these to be entry level whiskies is in the approachability of the flavor. All three are very light drinks, and are significantly less imposing on scotch newbies than, say, something from Islay. For this comparison, I was especially curious about the Chivas Regal 12 given the lower price (at least locally), and wondered if it could stand up to the single malts.

Three miniatures

Three miniatures

Tasting notes

On the nose, all three start out at with a common base of apples and pairs, with the Chivas perhaps offering up some peaches as well. All three are also sweet, but they diverge here, with Glenfiddich reminding me of brown sugar, Chivas Regal being more caramel/butterscotch, and the Glenlivet having a lighter honey sweetness. The Glenlivet also stands out as being more floral (and a bit more lively) than the other two. The Glenfiddich seems to have a maltiness, and perhaps a little bit of mixed nuts that I didn’t notice in the others.

The palate is pretty tame for all three. The Glens retained their fruit flavor, and the malty flavor from the Glenfiddich nose is evident in the mouth for both. The Chivas Regal seems to be more on the sweet side in the mouth, with the caramel/butterscotch continuing. I’m also getting what I perceive to be a walnut-like bitterness with both the Glenfiddich and the Chivas. Once again, I feel like The Glenlivet is just a touch more lively, with the Chivas being the weakest.

On the finish, there’s nothing to write home about for any of these. The finish just isn’t where it’s at for these whiskies. Once again, the Chivas is the weakest. It just goes away as soon as you swallow it. The malt flavor on the two Glens comes up through the nostrils a bit, as does the floral element on the Glenlivet.


As you might have guessed from my notes, I didn’t find any of these to be “remarkable.” However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I thought all three were very pleasant on the nose, and they were extremely easy to drink. All three have a very light profile that makes them suitable for any time of day. Being into whisky as a hobby, I’ve got a pretty good stock at home, and I don’t plan to rush out and buy any of these. However, if I find myself killing time in an airport lounge some afternoon, I won’t hesitate to order any of these three easy drinkers.

I don’t intend to fill out full “Quick Take” report cards for these three. Especially since I only have miniatures, so I can’t do extensive, multi-day analysis. However, these fit perfectly into the C+/B- range in my rating system. They’re enjoyable drinks, but somewhat forgettable. Based on palate/finish, the Chivas is the most quickly forgotten. For my tastes, the Glenlivet stood out slightly above the others just because it seemed a little more lively and interesting. I’ll go ahead and throw out some rating numbers and notes on value:

  • Chivas Regal 12 – 79/100 (Value: Seems like a good deal at $20, but I’d shell out the extra $7 for the Glenlivet)
  • Glenfiddich 12 – 80/100 (Value: Not sure what the deal is with the current local price. For $5 more, I’d definitely purchase the 15 year over this)
  • The Glenlivet 12 – 81/100 (Value: Hard to go wrong with this at $27)

Other opinions

Rather than posting a bunch of links for all three whiskies, I’ll just point you to a YouTube video review for each one. You won’t have any problem finding other opinions with a Google search.

  • The Glenlivet 12 [IslayScotchWhisky]
  • Glenfiddich 12 [ralfystuff] – Ralfy also reviewed The Glenlivet 12 here.
  • Chivas Regal 12 [peatluvr]

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