By Richard Thomas
My experience with The Glenlivet 18 Year Old scotch is a good example of how giving the gift of whiskey comes around on you. I helped my wife pick The Glenlivet 18 Year Old as a birthday present for her uncle. I had only dim memories of the 18 Year, since The Glenlivet has never been among my first choices in scotch, but on that particular day it had the best price of any single malt scotch on the shelf in the 18 to 25 year range (a big part of why The Glenlivet label is among the best-selling single malts in the world). That clinched it.
My uncle-in-law promptly held onto the bottle until the holidays rolled around, and opened it up for Christmas. So, one of my (incidental) Christmas gifts this year was to reacquaint myself with this single malt.
The 18 Year is the first scotch in The Glenlivet’s line with a clear glass bottle, no doubt chosen to show off the whiskey’s lovely amber coloring. The single malt is bottled at 43% alcohol, slightly above the norm for scotch.
This scotch is not the light, floral stuff that makes up The Glenlivet’s younger whiskeys, such as the 15 Year. Complimenting the darker color, the nose on the 18 Year is thick like syrup. I thought the core of the scent was a mix of chocolate fudge, toffee and butterscotch, and would be akin to walking into a candy shop, were it not for the strong undertones of oak and peat smoke. The flavor is full-bodied, with lots of oak tannin and a syrupy, citrus sweetness. with the peat smoke remaining firmly in the background. The finish is long, dry and spicy with an overlay of oak.
That bottle I recommended for my uncle-in-law cost about 55 euros, due in large part to Portugal’s painful VAT of 23%. A price of 45 euros is more typical of Europe, and I routinely see this common, middle-aged single malt for less in airport duty free shops. In the United States, I have seen it go for as little as $55 in the recent past, but between $70 and $80 is more common.
In 2009, The Glenlivet 18 Year Old carried gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and The Scotch Whisky Masters, and a silver at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.