Tony Soprano’s favorite Scotch (for what that’s worth), was The Glenlivet 12 year. While not my favorite of the inexpensive drams, it has its place in the whisky cabinet and has particularly appealing notes of green apple. If I had to have a single-malt over ice on a hot summer day, that would be a good candidate (I wouldn’t dream of pouring anything more complex over ice). The next product in Glenlivet’s lineup, the 15 year, is additionally aged for 3 years in virgin French oak. Its deeper red/brown coloring is actually natural, a product of the extra maturation in new oak, and is not achieved by coloring. Bottled at a slightly anemic 40% ABV, is this elder brother to the 12-year worth the extra cash?
Nose: Bright green fruit, some green grape skins, and acidic apple. White sugar, and raw cane juice. Some interesting (but mild) spices, cinnamon and nutmeg from the French oak.
Palate: Light. Some mild wood. A bit raw on the alcohol (like the 12), and perhaps somewhat watery. Golden raisins.
Finish: A twist here: maybe dried raspberries? Some nice dry tannins. Medium long, with a surprising touch of lime oil at the tail end.
Overall: It’s… just OK. It’s better than the 12-year, which lacks a little age and a little wood, both of which are present here. Unfortunately, it suffers from a zealous watering-down. At 46% this would be a beautiful, juicy dram and an exemplar of Glenlivet house style. Instead, it’s just… OK. Normally, I would always recommend a product that represented solid improvement over its cheaper siblings. However, I buy Glenlivet 12 because of the price (as low as $22 around here). With a pricetag verging on $40, the 15-year represents a larger investment and has some stiff competition with other entry-level malts in that price range. I’d far rather splurge the extra 5 or 6 bucks to land some Redbreast 12 or GlenDronach 12. In other words, Glenlivet 15 isn’t bad… it’s just not $18 better than Glenlivet 12.