Ahoy Pandas! We’re back with another vintage malt review. This time, we’re going with a vintage malt from the relatively familiar Glenlivet Distillery. This bottle is called the Glenlivet 1989 Caledonian Selection, bottled by Liquid Gold Enterprises (“LG”). While most original bottling Glenlivet expressions come in the range of 40% - 46% ABV, this comes in at a punchy 58.1%, which you don’t often see released in OBs. The spirit was distilled in 1989, and then bottled in 2001, which gives this an age of about 12 years old.
What’s special about this bottle, apart from its age, is that it is released under LG’s “Caledonian Selection” marketed as a series of premium single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies that are sold in an elegant decanter-shaped bottle.
A closer look at the bottle:-
It also seems that bottles under the Caledonian Selection are all bottled at cask strength. A little tag on the bottle reveals the blender’s philosophy:-
All I can say is, I fully agree. Cask strength and no chill-filtration is the way to go. To preserve the distillers’ craft and skill and taste the spirit as intended by the distiller as far as possible, I would much prefer if bottlers avoid meddling the whisky and watering it down to the low ABV of the 40ish percentages.
In the glass, the whisky is a bright yellow gold with relatively quick legs.
On the nose, very fresh, very estery and very sweet. Sweet vanilla and light maple syrup with a truckload of magnolias fill my nose. There is an ever-present and predominant estery aroma of Haribo gummy bears- specifically the gold coloured gummy bears.
This is followed by a trailing aroma of grassiness and mild beery hoppiness, ending off with a hint of floral notes developing to crisp green muscat grapes.
Mild beery hoppiness.
Crisp green muscat grapes.
Not only is this fragrant, balanced and seamless, the texture of the aroma is very light and gentle, without so much as a prick on my nose. I could just as well be nosing a glass of lager beer.
Moving on to the palate, this is sugary, light bodied and effortless to drink. From the moment this dram hits the tongue, I get lashings of clear honey and Martinelli’s apple juice.
As American comedian Aziz Ansari declared, if you haven't tried Martinelli's apple juice, you have to try it (Image Source: Martinelli’s)
As time passes, this opens up to considerable grassiness and very light note of jasmine green tea. Just as detected by the nose earlier, there is an ever-present bright and estery note that coats the palate and lasts throughout the tasting.
The texture is slightly thicker than the generally watery Glenlivets sold today, although it is overall quite light-bodied. This is also surprisingly effortless to drink despite its high ABV of 58.1%. Very little heat is detected, although there is a constant but mild sensation of spearmint or that coats the tongue with every sip.
The finish is very long with an enduring note of light honey and mint. As sweetness subsides, the whisky turns towards a mild bitterness from pomelo rind and a sliver of tobacco leaves.
I am terrible at peeling pomelos and am all too familiar with the mild bitter taste of pomelo rind (Image Source: u/triple_medium; Reddit)
I’ll confess: I am not exactly a Glenlivet devotee. I generally prefer more body in a whisky and a more robust flavour profile. Many OB Glenlivet expressions are usually bottled at the minimally-mandated percentage of 40% ABV, and turn out a little too light and too mildly-flavoured for my liking.
This Caledonian Selection Glenlivet tells a relatively straightforward story with its flavour profile, but is surprisingly enjoyable. It has just enough body to accentuate the sweet nectary notes of the spirit, and delivers a much livelier and a slightly more complex flavour profile than the usual OB expressions released today.
This vintage dram tells a straightforward story and is effortless to imbibe. It also delivers a livelier note than typical OB bottlings. Three sticks of dango for the friendliness, simplicity and satisfaction with this dram.