Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have just tried > Glayva

Glayva is a popular whisky based liqueur. The recipe for the liqueur was first created by the Edinburgh based whisky merchant Ronald Morrison in 1947.  The exact details of the recipe remain a closely guarded secret but it is a combination of single malt whisky, tangerines, honey, cinnamon and exotic spices.  The name is derived from the Gaelic phrase 'Glè Mhath', which translates as 'very good'.  The brand is currently owned by whisky giant Whyte & Mackay and is a multi award winner.

Glayva is widely available and can be found in most supermarkets, liqueur stores and specialist whisky retailers.  It is bottled at 35% ABV and in 35cl and 70cl bottles, selling for £10-12 and £18-20 respectively. For the coming festive period, the brand has teamed up with The Whisky Shop - the UK's largest whisky retail chain - to produce a special limited edition label. The Glayva 'You're the Best' range (pictured, above) is exclusive to the chain and only 150 bottles have been produced. These carry one of three messages - 'You're the Best in the World', 'Best Mum' or 'Best Dad'. This special bottling can be purchased for £19.99 at any of The Whisky Shop's 18 stores around the UK or via

Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark orange amber and the nose is sweet and spicy.  There are initial aromas of honey, orange zest, peppermint and plenty of spices - cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon and star anise.  After a short time in the glass these aromas are joined by those of moist ginger cake, golden syrup, cloves and some earthy ginseng.  On the palate, this is rich, thick and syrupy.  It coats the inside of your mouth with a mix of over-the-top sweetness and gripping, earthy spice which adds balance.  The sweetness is driven by the honey from the nose, plus some toffee and marshmallow, and these are contrasted by plenty of zesty bitter orange peel notes.  The depth and complexity of the variety of spices and herbal notes is what adds the real interest here though.  There is much going on - cinnamon, liquorice, nutmeg, cloves (this provides a hint of antiseptic feeling), mint, ginger and cardamon.  It has to be said that not much whisky can be detected with so many other powerful notes involved.  The finish is long, with the spices and bitter orange pleasantly hanging around.

What's the verdict?
Glayva is very pleasant but it is fair to say that it's a little tricky to handle when taken neat. However, this is true for most whisky based liqueurs and they are not really designed to be drunk in this way.  The first, and most obvious, thing to try was to add some ice - this chills the liqueur perfectly and it feels velvety in the mouth with a delicious combination of the zesty orange and earthy spice notes that was particularly pleasing.

In addition, we experimented with a number of different mixers and found that some work very well.  Our particular favourite was when mixed with tonic water - the addition of a couple of ice cubes produced a perfect aperitif style drink and one that would be great on a hot Summer's afternoon.  Other combinations that worked well and complimented the Glayva were when it was mixed with either ginger beer (this was especially good at enhancing the spices) or cranberry juice (this one sounded odd to us, but it was on the Glayva website so we thought we would try it ... and it works). A warm alternative is to use it to make a hot toddy by adding boiling water, honey and a slice of lemon - we made this one up and it tasted good and festive!


Gordon milne said...

Why does the bottle become more difficult to open year after year. Are you trying to make me stop buying Glayva. Who is the rocket scientist who changes the screw top to make it more difficult to open mm again and again

Gordon milne said...

To repeat_____again and again

Anonymous said...

OMG - total sacrilege putting stuff other than ice in the Glayva - its glayva? What do you mean you can't taste the Whiskey underneath I can taste that its White and Mckay its good quality smooth whiskey underneath that is what makes Glayva so good. It heats the heart. Its sweet but not too sweet. Its the only whiskey that I drink. I'll give you the hot toddy though. And when I used to drink coffee it made a great "Scotch coffee" Mind you so did Drambuie - but they changed the reciepe a couple of years ago and it isn't so good plus the underlying whiskey in Drambuie was a bit hit and miss over the years. Glayva remains the same quality blend underneath.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who the other Anonymous is but every word is so true from the bit about sacrilege to heating the heart - I don't know any other alcohol I have tried that you can actually feel in your heart when you drink it. I also agree with the comments about Drambuie and coffee. Whoever you are I agree with you wholeheartedly and I couldn't have said it better myself. May you long continue to enjoy a wee dram of Glayva. I appreciate the fact that the company sells a really good quality drink at a price that is affordable for normal people, I am not a bit drinker but I like to always have a bottle of Glayva in the house.