One thing that always intrigues me is how whisky that’s currently available tasted in previous decades. To that end I sometimes trawl local second hand markets. Unfortunately with the current whisky boom a lot of people want to sell these things at obscene prices because they see some collectable malt from the same era going for insane amounts on auction.
While for the majority of cases it can be said that most whiskies tasted a lot better in previous decades, that margin of improvement does not equal such a huge price increase. They are still by and large basic expressions (the really interesting stuff has long since been snapped up) and there is a reason they’re still lying around.
Sometimes I get lucky though and managed to find this one at a slightly above reasonable price. It had a little sentimental value to me too as Glenlivet 12 is the first single malt I ever tried way back in my early teens. This is from some time before then however. After trying to clarify I managed to get a bunch of different opinions, the closest time frame I could definitely pin down was the late 1970’s to early 1980’s.
One interesting thing on this bottle is that it refers to the whisky as “Unblended Malt” as opposed to “Single Malt”, a term which gained popularity only later.
Aged 12 years. 43%ABV.
Nose: Wood glue. Acacia sap. Rich malt. Dusty sherry. Orange marmalade. Stewed fruits. Slight sulphury notes. Marzipan. Old paper.
Palate: Slightly too watery. Apple sauce. Stewed fruits. Light wood. Marmalade. Toffee.
Finish: Medium. Orange fragrance. Ginger biscuits. Malt. Wet oak.
Would I buy this: Yes
Would I order this in a bar: Yes
Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes
I was really surprised by just how much of a far cry this was from the current Glenlivet 12. Obviously some changes can be due to some oxidation that occurred in the bottle, but still there’s a distinctly greater proportion of sherry influence and a much richer malt profile. It’s still not a better whisky by leaps and bounds, but definitely a richer and more interesting product than the current counterpart.