Humans always have some form of fascination with numbers. From keeping tabs on how much is in their bank account, to raving about on the stats their favorite pro athlete put up. For oenophiles, a wine’s vintage is often a huge indicator of price, demand and quality. I think this has trickled down to spirits enthusiasts over the years. Maybe some oenophiles also dabble into spirits. Maybe this was the spirits industry trying to take a page from wine. It’s usually all about the age statements and the abv. But I’ve met a few more hardcore collectors who also look for vintaged spirits from the year they were born.
That has rubbed off on me of course. I was advised to take advantage of my youth. Collect spirits as old as me and older than me. Hunt for spirits aged during my vintage year. Mainly because they are still easier to find and more affordable. I heed their advice. This has led me to at times, looking for… reverse vintage spirits? If a vintage refers to a spirit distilled and barreled during a certain year, then I guess that means reverse vintages can refer to when a spirit was bottled.
I returned to Bar Calvador after having gone through Takayama-san’s luxurious impromptu Calvados flights the other night. So I was looking at his whisky shelf for a change. (I’ll give notice that there are no Suntory’s and Nikkas in his shelves). I am not a fan of Glenlivet nor any of Pernod’s whisky. Aside from Aberlour, I think all of their OBs are anemic. This Glenlivet only accidentally caught my attention because the old Signatory labels always make me think of Springbank for some reason.
If you want to see Malt reviews on official Glenlivets, you can see them here. I’m not wasting liver life and time on their dull product.
I usually avoid any of the core ranges of any of the big brands. But I have a general belief that indies or any dusty bottling from any brand or distillery is worth trying. Technically, they’re all limited editions, right? I am also curious to compare what a spirit is like from a certain period to what they are like now. To my delight, this was distilled during the late 60s and it was bottled in 1990. I saw this as a chance to check a couple of things from my bucket list. One is to try a single malt from the 60s. One is to try a spirit bottled in 1990 which is my vintage. So I immediately asked Takayama-san if he could pour a half oz of this into the empty sample bottle I brought.
This Glenlivet is a blend of 2 casks which were distilled on June 30th of 1968. This was bottled at 50.1% abv in July of 1990. And is bottle number 136 out of 1800.
Signatory Vintage 1968 Glenlivet – review
Color: Pale ale
On the nose: Hot scents of oak, honey, brown sugar, pears and apples assault my nose. Behind them are refreshing light and green scents that make me think of Sprite and Mountain Dew. Hints of wood shavings and baked bread at the end.
In the mouth: There isn’t as much heat as on the nose. There’s a well rounded and persistent roasted maltiness with hints of bergamot. In that maltiness are alternating tastes of honey, caramelized green apples, stewed apples, bergamot, brown sugar, cinnamon, thyme and mint.
This is a two-faced whisky. The disappointing nose initially made me think this whisky was going to be as dull as the modern OB Glenlivets. But my opinion immediately changed after I took a sip. There’s so much going on in this that I wouldn’t have expected from the nose. Aside from the surprising complexity of this single malt, the abv made me think I was drinking an oily 46% abv single malt. If the nose on this was any better, I would have given this an 8.
I didn’t think Glenlivet could be this good! When did it all go wrong for them quality-wise? What kind of barley were they using then? How long was their fermentation time? Why aren’t more single malts at this age range released as ex-bourbon single casks only? Why must the industry insist on always releasing 20+-year-old single malts with sherry influences?
This makes me want to seek out old official bottlings and maybe independent Glenlivets when in bars. Heck, I might even buy a bottle or two if the universe decides to give me a few hundred dollars.