March 2019 Whisky of the Month:
We’ve teamed up with the biggest name in single malt to bring you the one and only The Glenlivet finished in Cognac casks for the first time ever.
And it’s everything you dreamed it could be: raisin-rich honey, jammy and spicy notes of luxurious Cognac meet the creamy smooth citrus flavours of The Glenlivet’s distinctive Speyside style for a crazily delicious single malt sensation.
Adding a whole new dimension to the iconic single malt Scotch whisky, this is The Glenlivet like you’ve never tasted it before.
Country of Origin:
The single malt that started it all.
A big claim for sure, but the honest truth. Established in 1824 by farmer George Smith, Glenlivet was the first Scottish distillery to be licensed under the (then) new Excise Act of 1823 which marked the birth of the modern Scotch whisky industry. Prior to the introduction of the Excise Act, a very unfavourable legislative regime existed which drove much of the industry underground, where a well-established mafia had grown wealthy from the illicit whisky trade. The Excise Act, as unwelcome as it was initially, provided a sensible framework upon which to bring the small operators in from the black market and create a scalable industry that has subsequently grown in to the amazing industry that today forms the backbone of Scotland export economy.
Of course not everyone was happy about the new Act and because people had grown wealthy trading whisky on the black market, and there was a feeling that once one distillery went clean the rest would have to follow, bringing an end to the status quo. Resentment and friction from his old colleagues became so bad that at one stage Smith had to carry two pistols with him for protection. Fortunately, he survived and prospered, and in 1858 Glenlivet expanded to meet demand, and expanded again a few years later to meet up with the new Spey Rail line which gave Smith access to markets in England and the rapidly expanding British Empire. George Smith passed away in 1871 leaving the distillery in the capable hands of his son John Gordon Smith, who’d helped him establish the business, and his grandson George Smith Grant.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and as Glenlivet’s reputation for quintessential light, fruity and floral Speyside malt grew, other local distilleries in the Livet Glen and beyond began to use the name Glenlivet, so much so that a joke from those days was that the name ‘Glenlivet’ meant ‘The Long Valley’ because so many distilleries were located there. Young George Smith Grant took them to court in 1881 and won the right to call his whiskies “The Glenlivet”, while only distilleries in the Livet Glen were allowed to use the hyphenated “- Glenlivet” in their names. Though not near as popular as it once was, some 26 distilleries have incorporated this into their name over the years, including until recently, neighbours Tamnavulin and Tomintoul.
Business continued to prosper, and two more stills were added in 1897. Crucially, as with the other leading Scotch distilleries today, Glenlivet managed to survive both the Pattinson Crisis and the Great Depression. This put them in a fantastic position to capitalise on the end of prohibition in the USA, where they are still in the top spot today. Glenlivet didn’t escape a mothballing during the Second World War however, by Government decree mind you, but by 1947 production levels were back to pre-war levels thanks to Britain’s post-war export drive to repay war debts. Overseas demand for Scotch made this an ideal export, and the distillery received preferential access to resources such as manpower, fuel and barley, despite ongoing bread rationing for the general population.
Glenlivet profited hugely from the 1950s Scotch boom and in 1953 merged with Glen Grant Distillery to form The Glenlivet and Glen Grant Distillers, Ltd. before a further merger with Hill Thomson & Co., Ltd. and Longmorn-Glenlivet Distilleries, Ltd. in 1970. They changed their name to Glenlivet Distillers Ltd in 1972 and were purchased by Canadian drinks and media company Seagram in 1977. Seagram sold their alcohol interests to Pernod Ricard and Diageo in 2000 with ownership of Glenlivet Distillers passing to Pernod Ricard, who later sold Glen Grant Distillery to Campari Group in 2005. By this time, thanks to careful stewardship from its owners, Glenlivet had become the second biggest selling single malt in the world and remained one of the world’s best known and loved whiskies.
As a testament to the distillery’s ongoing success none other than HRH The Prince of Wales opened a further extension in 2010. The addition of a mash tun, eight washbacks and six stills increased capacity by a whopping 75%, making Glenlivet one of the most modern distilleries in Speyside. Today The Glenlivet is the best-selling malt whisky in the USA and the fourth best-selling in the UK. Glenlivet is also the world’s second best-selling single malt whisky (after Glenfiddich at Number 1) with current sales at over 13.2 million bottles per annum. It’s widely regarded not only as the true embodiment of Speyside but also one of the greatest whiskies ever made.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, the team at The Glenlivet continue to thrill whisky lovers around the world with unyieldingly great whiskies and this month we’re delighted to bring you the brand new Captain’s Reserve, the first Glenlivet matured in ex-Cognac casks, available in Australia for the first time, exclusive to the Club.
About The Glenlivet Captain’s Reserve Single Malt:
The Glenlivet’s whiskies are noted above all others to best represent the modern Speyside style. In fact, George Smith’s greatest achievement, other than being the grandfather of the modern whisky industry, was creating a new style of whisky to become the house style of the entire Speyside region. He designed incredibly tall lantern shaped stills with wide necks that enabled the spirit to have maximum contact with the copper, while the height ensured that only the lightest vapour reached the top to condense and form a light, sweet, floral spirit with an estery character. This alternative to the heavy, dense and rich style of whisky produced in Speyside at the time proved to be hugely popular and remains so today.
The distillery’s 2010 expansion and refurbishment upgraded Glenlivet into one of the most modern distilleries in Speyside, featuring a vast Brigg’s mash tun, sixteen washbacks and a whopping fourteen stills with the capacity to produce a staggering 10.5 million litres a year. The stills continue to be made to the exact specifications of George’s original design as Glenlivet continues to produce the same signature style of single malt even after all these years.
The distillery draws water from Josie’s Well, supplemented by Blairfindy Well a short distance from the distillery, and malt comes from Crisp Malting in Portgordon. In terms of oak, The Glenlivet uses a mixture of traditional oak casks, American Oak ex-bourbon casks, ex-sherry, French Limousin oak and now ex-Cognac casks. Glenlivet has a well-stocked range that includes NAS, 12yo, 15yo, 18yo, 21yo, 25yo, 50yo, the cask-strength Nàdurra range and single cask range.
The latest addition to the collection is the Captain’s Reserve, named for Captain William (Bill) Smith Grant, none other than George Smith’s great grandson. The good Captain served in France during World War 1, so who better to dedicate the distillery’s first ever Cognac finished whisky to?
A bold experiment resulting in what’s claimed to be the first major single malt finished in Cognac casks, the Captain’s Reserve features layer upon layer of complexity and flavour that only maturation in multiple types of casks can create.
Matured in a mixture of American Oak ex-Bourbon casks, first fill Sherry casks, and then ex-Cognac casks, the Captain’s Reserve is full of flavour – the light and fruity Glenlivet spirit combining honey and spicy notes with mandarins in syrup, ripe poached pears and chocolate dipped raisins coming through in spades thanks to more than six months in ex-Cognac casks.
Bottled with no age statement at an easy drinking 40%, this is a seriously sessionable whisky that isn’t going to last long on your whisky shelf (it hasn’t on ours…) and you won’t see the Captain’s Reserve on shelves locally until 2020, so we’d suggest doubling up to keep you going until then. Captain’s orders!
Age on release:
No Age Statement (NAS)
Matured in first fill American Oak, first fill European ex-sherry casks and ex-cognac casks
The Glenlivet quick facts
Place of origin: The Glenlivet Distillery Ballindalloch Banffshire AB37 9DB, Scotland, United Kingdom
Water source: Josie’s Well
Number of stills: 7 wash and 7 spirit
Capacity: 10,500,000 litres of alcohol per year
Colour: Rich Gold
Nose: Sweet and fruity aromas of honey and apricot jam, with notes of cinnamon bread and a subtle sensation of spicy liquorice
Palate: Succulent flavours of mandarins in syrup, ripe poached pears and chocolate dipped raisins
Finish: Incredibly smooth and luscious with sweet notes of dried fruit and just a hint of spice
Scallop marinated in Japanese ginger-soy sauce, seared with black garlic and cinnamon