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Glenlivet. Could they take America's beloved 12 Year Old out of the market?

Like other distilleries I have visited and written about, Glenlivet is owned by Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard. Although, I think we can all imagine the strategy and future goals the company has for Glenlivet are very different than Strathisla or Aberlour. A man named Nick was my tour guide and he didn’t work in the industry before this, but knows people just by living in the area. As I was asking my usual questions at the end of the tour, we realized a few of the people I was planning to meet later in the week were the same people he had recently been at a barbeque with! It shows you just how small the scotch whisky industry is, especially Speyside.

The Glenlivet Distillery stopped malting their own barley in 1966 and currently use about 530 tons of malted barley a week. The one mashtun I saw was extremely large and they run about a 4 hour cycle in this mashtun. The reason I say the one I saw, is because I saw the original facility, so they have another facility that is more modern and currently making spirit as well. Not only this, but they are currently building adjacent to the site as we speak. You really couldn’t miss the fact that it was a construction site. They will go from producing 10.5 million liters of new make spirit per year to having the capacity to make 23 million liters per year very soon. Their water cycles in the mashtun were interesting. They run their waters through at 65, 65 and then 90 degrees Celsius. They add about 300 liters of liquid yeast to the wort when it is around 16 degrees Celsius. The fermentation period is only about 58 hours, which I was expecting to be longer. I expected it to possibly be comparable to Glenfiddich’s, as in to achieve those fruitier flavors.

Their stills have quite a long lyne arm, but no bulge. They weren’t significantly tall either. In total there are 14 stills between the old and new facility. Technically they have a 15th still that they had to register for legal reasons, but that is for special events. This is when they hold events and special bottlings to replicate the true, original way of illegal pot stilling! As of today’s process, the spent lees from the spirit still are purified and put back into the environment. They have ten warehouses on site and most are bonded warehouses. There are about 6,000 casks in each warehouse at the moment. You can find the rest of their 52 warehouses down the road in Keith. They also have all of their vatting done in Keith as well. Then everything goes to Glasgow for bottling and exported from there.

In general, Glenlivet is like many of the other big players in the scotch and whisky industry. They purely cannot keep up with demand and want to take some of the stigma off of age statements. Glenlivet launched one of their non-age statement bottlings to the market in March. I was told by my guide that this NAS (Non-age statement) will be replacing the 12 Year Old Single Malt. As an American, I of course couldn’t imagine this happening and was told that six countries will continue to receive the 12 Year. These six countries were listed as: USA, Mexico, South Africa, India, Singapore and Vietnam. Although, a few days later I was told by someone in the industry that actually the NAS will replace the 12 Year globally. So I don’t know about you, but I plan to go back to the states and buy up a few of the Glenlivet 12 Year bottles. Although these seem to be found everywhere, they may not be for much longer.

I have been drinking the Glenlivet 12 for a long time. As most of you know it is very floral and a smooth dram and will probably recognize the bottle right away as show to the right. I opted to try the 15 Year Old Glenlivet. Tasting notes are below.

15 Year Glenlivet

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Apple cinnamon spice, raisins, fig newton, some caramel.

Palate: Oak, fig, tart apple, oaky spice finish.

Next up is Cragganmore…

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