Glen Grant The Major's Reserve Review - Glenlivet Founder's Reserve Review - Glenlivet 18 Years Review - Aberlour 15 Select Cask Reserve Review


“Speyside Special # 1”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the coming months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific bottlers, countries or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. Today's special will look at 4 Speyside Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Image result for glen grant the major's reserve

Whisky Review # 697

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glen Grant The Major's Reserve 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Refill Bourbon Casks  
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: US$ 25-30 (March 2018).
Buying Advice:πŸ˜’ Not good enough as a Sipping Malt. Better leave it alone! 

Colour

Pale Gold/Chardonnay (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

The first impression is a bit unpleasant. A mix of sharp Alcohol, Refill Wood and Cooked Vegetables. There aren't a whole lot of goodies to discover here. Sugary Sweet with a few faint Floral notes. The overall feeling is Young and Light. It smells like a cheap Blended Scotch Whisky. Be sure to give it enough air time!

Main Aromas:

Cooked Vegetables, Refill Wood, Sugar, Yeast, Acetone, Alcohol, Grass, Straw, Vanilla, Green Apple, Unripe Pear, Bitter Almonds and Cinnamon.     

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toast and Margarine, Citrus (Lemon and Orange), Coconut, light Licorice, light Menthol and Banana.


Palate:

Thin, Young and Edgy. Mainly Sugary Sweet with a few additional Sour, Floral and Herbal notes. 

Main Flavours:

Sugar, Vanilla, Caramel, Resin, Alcohol (Grappa), Green Apple, Pear, Lemon, Dried Herbs, Pepper,  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Malted Cereals, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Cocoa Butter, Hazelnut, Clove, Nutmeg, Banana and Tea with artificial Strawberry flavour.

Finish:

Quite Short. Sugary Sweet at first but with an increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. I find Alcohol, Refill Wood, Resin, Vanilla, Pepper, Lemon, Green Apple, Caramel and hints of Hazelnut, Clove, Heather-Honey, Banana and Margarine.    

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only Nosed and Tasted the Major's Reserve neat. The Single Malt is named after James "The Major" Grant who inherited the distillery in 1872. He introduced Purifiers in both Wash - and Spirit Stills to be able to produce the light Whisky that the distillery is known for.

Rating: 74.5

Nose: 19 - Taste: 18.5 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 18.5 

Drinking Experience:

Below Average. The first Nosing impressions were almost unpleasant. 

Conclusion:

When I look at the picture below that was taken during our visit to the distillery in 2014, you will observe the distance between the guide and me. Is it a mere coincidence? I must admit I'm not a big fan of this distillery and The Major's Reserve does nothing to change my opinion. In fact it's one of the worst Glen Grants I have tasted so far. It's unfit as a sipping Whisky. I can imagine it might taste okay over Ice on a warm day but that's about it. It's not for nothing that the Glen Grant Whiskies are very popular in Italy. But personally I fail to see why distilleries would risk their popularity by launching weak Malts like this. It might yield Short Term Profit but there's the real risk that consumers will turn their back on Glen Grant given the poor performance of this entry Malt. I also wouldn't link this specific Single Malt to James "The Major" Grant who was known to be a man looking for quality and innovation. Well, enough said. Let's move on to Glenlivet!



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Image result for glenlivet founder's reserve

Whisky Review # 698

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet Founder's Reserve 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of First-Fill and Refill Bourbon casks  
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: US$ 30-38 (March 2018).
Buying Advice:πŸ˜’ It's not expensive but it lacks character, depth and quality. 

Colour

Golden (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

This is slightly better than the Glen Grant. The First Fill casks provide a bit of freshness that was lacking in the Glen Grant. The Founder's Reserve is mainly Sugary Sweet on the Nose but a few Sour, Mineral and Floral notes are there as well. The Aromas are quite Light and this is obviously a very young Whisky. The Fruity notes remind me of Artificially Flavoured Candies rather than Fresh Fruit.

Main Aromas:

Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Apple, Pear, Grass, Orange, Raisin, Freshly cut Wood, Floral Perfume and Mint.    

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Honey, Mandarin, Almonds, Cocoa Powder, Cinnamon, Malted Barley and Ginger.


Palate:

Young and Thin. The Harsh Alcohol is noticeable. On the Palate, the Glenlivet is Sugary Sweet, slightly Sour and Grassy. Oak and Spices come to the forefront.  

Main Flavours:

Caramel, Toffee, Apple, Pear, Grass, Vanilla, Alcohol, Orange, Freshly Cut Wood, Pepper, Cinnamon, Mint and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Malted Cereals, Milk Chocolate, Aniseed, Honey, Nutmeg, Acetone, Dusty Road and Tin Cans.

Finish:

Light, Short and a little Raw. The Alcohol is quite noticeable. It starts Sugary Sweet but a little Bitter Wood appears towards the Medium-Dry end. I find some Caramel, Toffee, Honey, Apple, Raisins, Vanilla, Coconut, Pepper, Milk Chocolate, Barley Sugar, Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Mandarin), Ginger and Mint.  

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Nose becomes quite Thin with lots of Vanilla, Milk Chocolate, Pear and Barley Sugar. The Palate becomes quite Malty. Lots of Pear as well. With added Water the Sharp Alcohol retreats of course but you're left with a very Thin and Fragile Spirit. Don't add more than 4 drops!

Rating: 78 

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience:

Okay. Utterly forgettable. 

Conclusion:

This entry Glenlivet Malt was named to honour George Smith, the founder of the distillery and was released in 2014. It's part of the core range at the moment. It is one of those Young Whiskies that seem to flood the market these days. It's not totally bad but I don't find any depth or character in this Single Malt. It's all very Bland. I'm not a big fan of the 12 Years either but it's better than Founder's Reserve. Not by a whole lot though. They are both Malts that you will forget as soon as you have swallowed them. Again, if I were the distillery owner, I would never name such a simple young Spirit after the founder of the Distillery. He deserves much better!

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Image result for glenlivet 18 years

Whisky Review # 699

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Glenlivet 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: A mix of First - and Second Fill Bourbon - and European Oak casks
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: US$ 65-85 (March 2018).
Buying Advice: 😐 Good $/Quality Ratio. Pretty standard Sherried Speysider. 

Colour

Old Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

It's not a Sherry-Bomb but the influence of the Sherry casks is quite clear. The 18 Years is quite Sweet with an array of Dried Fruit, Nuts and Spices. It's a bit Thinner than I had expected. Surprisingly the Alcohol is quite strong. Be sure to give this Glenlivet enough time in the glass.  

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Butter-Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Caramel, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins & Plums, Dark Chocolate, Clove, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Orange and Toasted Almonds.     

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Maraschino Cherry, Heather-Honey, Cooked Apple, Tinned Pineapple, Cinnamon, Ginger, Brown Sugar, Coconut, Dusty Road, Marzipan and Banana.


Palate:

The delivery is slightly Thin and this Glenlivet should have been bottled at 46%. The Palate basically follows the Nose. But more Bitter-Sweet now and with a few Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Caramel, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apples and Apricot, slightly Sour Berries, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Orange and Menthol.  

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Toffee, Nuts, Heather-Honey, Sweet Barley, Charred Oak, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice, Marzipan, Aniseed, Plum Jam, Wet Stone, Tobacco and Tinned Pineapple.  

Finish:

Quite short actually. Mainly Sweet with a slight Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. A few Sour notes as well. I find Sweet Barley, Dried Fruit like Raisins & Plums, Spices like Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove and Ginger, Toasted Almonds, Charred Oak, Orange, Menthol, slightly sharp Alcohol and hints of Tobacco, Dried Herbs, Licorice, Espresso, Grapefruit and Maraschino Cherries.        

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and on the Nose I get extra Floral notes. More Barley and Orange as well. The Alcohol retreats of course. More Barley, Vanilla and Spices on the Palate and a lot more Licorice in the Finish. My advise would be to add a few drops (around 5) to your dram as it helps control the Alcohol despite the fact that it does become a little Thin.

Rating: 84.5 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21 

Drinking Experience:

Good. 

Conclusion:

The Glenlivet 18 Years is part of the core range of the distillery. It's a pretty solid Sherried Speysider. It's also quite straight-forward, uncomplicated and without highs and lows. There is no Wow factor at any given moment during the Nosing and Tasting. If you're a fan of The Balvenie Double Wood for example, you will quite like this Glenlivet. Those of you who look for a bit of character and adventure should look elsewhere though. And, before I forget, this should have been bottled at 46%.

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Image result for aberlour 15 select cask reserve

Whisky Review # 700 (πŸŽ‡)

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour Select Cask Reserve 
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 15 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks   
Chill Filtration: Yes        
Price Range: US$ 50-60 (March 2018).
Buying Advice: πŸ˜’ Barely qualifies as Sipping Malt. Good over Ice!  

Colour

Medium Auburn (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

This is not as good as the 18 years I reviewed a while ago. Some indifferent casks I suppose. My first impressions are a mix of Vegetal notes, Sour Dough, Wood Coating Agents and Fresh Saw Dust. These Aromas diminish over time so be sure to give this Aberlour enough time in the glass. The Sherry casks make their presence known but not at all in an overwhelming way. The Nose is mainly Sweet but I find some Sour and Herbal notes as well. The Alcohol is noticeable.  

Main Aromas:

Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Caramel, Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Sawdust, Grass, Straw, Orange, Banana sprinkled with Cinnamon, Sour Dough, Stewed Apples, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricot, Fresh Herbs and Strawberry Jam. The odd Wood Coating Agent (Wood Stain) Aroma does not quite go away and that's a pity!       

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Heather-Honey, Toffee, Almonds, Marzipan, Charred Oak, Lemon, Peach, Mint, Pepper and Nutmeg.


Palate:

The Delivery is on the Thin side. Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes fight for the lead. A few Dry Earthy tones as well. 

Main Flavours:

Caramel, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Banana, Orange, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Sultanas, Strawberry Jam, Grass, Straw, Cinnamon, Herbal Tea and Menthol. The Alcohol is quite harsh.      

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Refill Oak, Floral Soap, Sweet Barley, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Honey, Almond, Saw Dust, Coconut, Lemon, Aniseed, Licorice, Pepper and Nutmeg.  


Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and little Thin. Quite Dry towards the end. The Harsh Alcohol is really present. It's hard to believe this Spirit matured for 15 long years. Says something about the quality of (at least some of the) casks if you ask me. I find Caramel, Vanilla, Floral Soap, Dried Herbs, Milk Chocolate, Bitter Orange, Dried Fruit (mainly Apricot), Cinnamon, Licorice, Nutmeg, Pepper, Dusty Road, Banana, Refill Wood and Menthol.

Drinking Advice:

I added around 5 drops of Water but I can still smell a wood stained fence made from Fresh Wood. At least the Alcohol has retreated. But there's not too much left of the Aromas. It's more Malty now and I find some Peach and Strawberry. Palate and Finish don't improve and the harsh Alcohol remains. Since I had a full bottle of this Aberlour (bought in Germany) I tried it over Ice as well and that's how I liked it best. It barely qualifies as a sipping Whisky. 

Rating: 81.5 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5 

Drinking Experience:

Okay. Good over Ice.

Conclusion:

The Select Cask Reserve was originally released in France only. In the meantime it is available in other countries as well, mainly in Europe. Aberlour is the best selling Single Malt in France and perhaps the distillery is sure they can sell some of their let's say less interesting casks over there. I'm not saying that this is actually happening but that's the impression I get when tasting this Select Cask Reserve. Select Casks indeed! But based on what! In any case I really don't recommend this Aberlour as a sipping Whisky. It's quite okay over Ice though and that's just what many people might do in sunny France. In the rest of the world we better stay with the A 'Bunadh series.


Jan van den Ende                                                                   March 12, 2018



The Pictures were taken during our visits to these distilleries in May 2014.

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