For Father’s Day, my kids got me several 50 ml. bottlettes — one blended scotch (Dewars white label), two single malt scotches (Glenlivet 12 and The Macallan 12), and one single barrel bourbon (Blanton’s).
Dewars white label is an unexceptional liquor on the bottom shelf of most bars. Still, it isn’t terribly flawed, and we all need something cheap on the shelf for those evenings when we want a wee dram but can’t justify a sip of something better. Now, for my money, Ballantines Finest is the best of the really cheap, no-age-statement blended scotches. But I can derive pleasure from any not-conspicuously-flawed whisk(e)y, and I don’t mind saying so.
Glenlivet 12 and The Macallan 12 are both entry level standards in the world of single malt scotches. The former just because it’s as cheap as a single malt gets ($25ish in many places)–it’s often considered a bit better than the similar but costlier Glenfiddich 12. The latter because it’s hugely popular as 12 YO highland style scotches go, regardless of price (I’m told that those who try The Macallan 18, though, can never go back to the 12).
In any case, believe it or not, I’d had neither of these before. I’ve been blessed with friends of good taste, and therefore had jumped right into pricier drams, in the past, bypassing these normal stepping stones on the scotch pilgrimage.
Blanton’s I’ve had before, and to date it’s my second favorite bourbon, next to Booker’s.
I was shocked that my family found 50 mls. of Glenlivet, The Macallan, and Blanton’s. These are real treasures, if you can find them. You get the same amount you would in a bar, for half the price. Not only do you avoid the gamble of the 750 ml, but you avoid even the gamble of the drink at the bar. You can divide them into two half-drinks, over a couple days, to give yourself opportunity for second thoughts. For a few bucks, these are great finds. I hadn’t found single malt scotches or top shelf bourbons in this form, before. Bravo, family, bravo.
I will probably offer reviews of The Macallan 12 (which I’ve yet to crack!) and Blanton’s in the near future; but, today, I offer a review of Glenlivet 12:
Nose: Green apple. I asked Elisabeth if she noticed that, and she said, “More like green apple Jolly Rancher.” I nosed again. Blast, she’s right. Green apple Jolly Rancher, exactly. Beneath that are some herbaceous notes…like a recently mowed field of random weeds on a dank day (but that is definitely beneath the dominant green apple).
Palate: The green apple disappears–it is nowhere to be found on the palate. Immediately there is dry oak, and within a few seconds that woodiness is accompanied by both vegetal notes and Chardonnay. Yes, dry, woody oak meets vegetation and a dry Chard. Huh.
Finish: Longish. The vegetal notes step forward a bit (the oak is still there, but the vegetation steps in front). And then, the longer it lingers, the more “sour” the vegetation turns. Not sour like sour candy…sour like sauerkraut. Which is the final note I’m left with, a minute later, when all else has moved on. (That may not sound appealing to you–I myself am not the world’s biggest fan of sauerkraut–but this is actually sort of good in its own way.)
Conclusion: I tend toward the sweeter drams, myself. I love big peat, but even among the Islays, I prefer some sweetness with my peat, as in a Bowmore. Nevertheless, I like this…dry, oaky, vegetal whisky though it be. For $25ish, I wouldn’t mind keeping it around, to mix things up now and then. My tastes are frequently driven by season and weather, and I think I’d be drawn to this if one late-summer day wound up overcast, cool, and dank.