The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve

“One ‘R’, Two ‘B’s… One ‘R’, Two ‘B’s…” I misspell “Caribbean” so often that I had to repeat this in my head like a mantra while writing. I now have “One R Two Bs” sing-songing in my head on repeat like a Dr. Seuss rhyme. What was I doing again?

Oh right. I really wanted to like this one… especially since I was so pleasantly surprised by the Cognac Cask from Glenlivet.

There’s not a lot of background here: We’re talking about non-age-stated Glenlivet partially finished in Caribbean rum casks. (One R Two Bs…) First off, I think the lack of an age statement here is a little silly. They could dump 12 year-old in for pennies more than whatever younger stuff they’re using, as they proved by releasing a 14 year-old extra-matured single malt for $40 a few years ago, and the fact that Glenlivet 12 year can still be found for under $30.

The lack of information should surprise nobody: We don’t know how old, we don’t know what percentage of casks were ex-rum, and we don’t know how long the whisky spent finishing in those casks. We don’t know about color or filtration (so it’s probably got both). I guess we’re just not supposed to ask questions and instead be content with whatever the Big Brands (TM) give us.

The sting of not enjoying this bottle is lessened by the fact that I got it as part of my Flaviar Subscription. Sunk cost fallacy aside I can convince myself it was “free”. So there’s that.

Unsurprisingly, this release is bottled at the bare minimum 40% ABV. Which, yes, does make light-and-fruity Speysiders like this taste watery. Give me 46% or give me… well, bourbon.

Nose: Distinctive Glenlivet notes of green apple, hay, butterscotch, and white tea. There’s also an extra layer of aroma that could be called tropical: maybe coconut, raw sugarcane, and dried pineapple. Pleasant, but light.

Palate: Moderate body, almost syrupy. Initial flavors mirror the palate: butterscotch, sugarcane, coconut. There’s also a fair amount of bitter barrel char, mild oaky tannins, and black pepper.

Finish: Short. More bitter than I’d prefer, as the bitterness overwhelms the lighter tropical flavors that should pervade the finish. Fades quickly, and without evolving.

With Water: Several drops of water seem to mute the fruit notes in the aroma, and provide no relief from the bitterness throughout. Water not recommended with this one.

Overall: Ahh, how many light Speysiders have been spoiled by a 40% ABV bottling proof and an overly-bitter finish? What starts out as a pleasant, tropical dram with a nice array of Speyside elements gets marred by escalating bitterness on the tongue and overwhelming bitterness on the finish. I do not like this, Sam-I-Am. I do not like this bitter NAS dram!

The Glenlivet Caribbean Reserve
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $30 - $40
Acquired: (750ml bottle) From Flaviar Subscription

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  • I agree with you about the 40% thing. I feel like I comment every time this comes up. The truth is that there are now so many whiskies bottled at 46% with the full craft presentation (or close to it) that I don’t even give these a look anymore. I’m not saying I would shun a gift or not be happy to try some. However, when I’m making the purchase of a full bottle, I don’t even give it a thought.

  • The Cognac cask 14 yo is one of the best deals going on single malt, even at 40%. A cabinet stalwart for me.