Glenlivet is one of the most famous whisky names and brands in the world. The distillery is located in the Speyside region, close to the town of Ballindalloch in the scenic Livet Glen, and is one of Scotland's largest with an annual production of nearly 6 million litres. Glenlivet is currently owned by drinks giant Pernod Ricard and their influence, since taking over in 2001, has seen Glenlivet become one of the best selling single malts in the world. It is second for overall world sales (behind Glenfiddich), third in the UK (behind Glenfiddich and Glenmorangie) and the best selling single malt in the USA. The sales continue to grow, especially in expanding markets such as south east Asia.
Glenlivet was founded in 1824 by George Smith, whose signature still appears on the labels and packaging. A small percentage of whisky produced at Glenlivet is used in Pernod Ricard's popular Chivas Regal range of blended whiskies but most is reserved for release as single malt. The range of single malt whisky is extensive, including this12, 15, 18, 21 and 25 years old plus older releases and different cask finishes. They also release exclusive bottlings for the duty free travel retail sector.
The Glenlivet 12 years old is light and golden in colour and has a lovely fragrant nose. There are obvious notes of vanilla and sweet cereal grains but these are joined by more subtle aromas of fresh green fruit (especially apples and pears) and a hint of something floral, reminiscent of honeysuckle. On the palate, this whisky has a medium body and feels slightly creamy. The sweet vanilla, malty cereals and fresh green fruit are prominent again, although the vanilla note has more of a marzipan feel to it. The slightly floral honeysuckle note comes through again, as does an interesting warm spicy note (think of ginger and a touch of nutmeg). The finish is soft and smooth. It begins sweetly with the vanilla and grains evident before turning drier and woodier, allowing the nutmeg style spiciness to end.
This Glenlivet 12 years old is not the most complicated of single malts but it is of great quality and offers good value for money (a bottle should cost around £25-30 from supermarkets and specialist stores alike). For this reason, this pleasant and easy drinking whisky would be an excellent choice to introduce a beginner to the world of single malts, while still having enough character to keep the connoisseurs interested. A classic Speyside dram.