Welcome to our new series – Old Flames.
While we should all be very excited that whisky is trending right now and malt whisky has become distinctly fashionable, there’s a danger in winning the attention of the beautiful people who are dedicated followers of fashion.
They are like moths around a light and while everything’s busy in the world of whisky at the moment, sooner or later a brighter light will attract them away again. What’s worse, the fashion crowd, with their clever tweeting and flashy blogs, tend to be over-focused on the newest and latest, demonstrating all but insatiable thirst for the special releases, the rarest malts and the most expensive whiskies.
Not us. As we’ve proved in recent years, we’re in whisky for the long haul. We’re all about brand building, investing lots of our staff time and energy in helping people understand and cherish whisky. We understand, too, that for 99.9 per cent of the whisky enjoying public, bottles costing hundreds of pounds are nothing more than a pipe dream. And that for most people the scores of whisky retailing for under £50 are more than enough to excite and stimulate the novice whisky drinker.
But more than that, we think it is right to return to basics and highlight the many whiskies that are world class, taste great, but have been forgotten in the rush to taste the latest Glen Sexy 72 Year Old finished in diamond encrusted outer Mongolian 500 year old mountain oak.
So let me introduce Old Flames – a back to basics look at some of the heavyweight heroes which while not actually unsung, but which may have been overlooked a little in the current faddy whisky rush.
If you’re new to whisky, then each week we’ll pick a whisky which is fully recommended by The Whisky Shop team and I. If you’re an old hand, our advice is step back, pour a dram of our whisky choice, find a quiet space or a darkened room, and reacquaint yourself with what may well have been one of your first loves. Rediscover what excited you about an Old Flame. Share a moment. Make friends again. Feels good, doesn’t it?
If you’re new toy whisky, then each week join me as we go a journey through a malt whisky greatest hits package. Every one of these choices comes thoroughly recommended and won’t break the bank.
First up: The Glenlivet 12 Year Old
They say familiarity breeds contempt, and certainly few will be unfamiliar with this whisky. That doesn’t mean it’s not a cracker, though.
The Glenlivet distillery sits in the heart of Speyside, nestling in the hills where smuggling was once rife. It’s always been a pretty and exciting distillery to visit and can boast some of the best visitor facilities in Scotland, but with recent improvements and refurbishments the distillery can boast as good an introduction to Scotch whisky and the Speyside whisky region as any.
The Glenlivet 12 year old
Speyside whiskies are all about sweetness, fresh fruit, honey and clean, crisp whiskies. Fundamentally there are two types: the rich sherried, red berried malts, and the clean, green and yellow fruits dolloped in vanilla ice cream which are a product of bourbon casks. This one falls firmly in to the second category.
The nose here is a delight, sweet apple, vanilla, hints of fresh oak and traces of liquorice. If you want summer in the glass, then taste this. There are hints of fluffy apple, pineapple and tropical fruits, clean sweet oak and vanilla, and a core barley note. All of these traits find their way in to the older and more celebrated versions of The Glenlivet, but here the trick is all about the simplicity. If we ever get any hot summer this year, take a glass of this, perhaps slightly chilled, and sip as you fire up the barbecue, ideally as the sun’s starting to set and your skin’s tingling.
Nice? You betcha….