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Friday, 4 June 2010

Still Life.... Part Deux


Does the sun always shine in Scotland? It seems to every time we visit. Each Islay Festival we've been to, we've been bathed in glorious sunshine and the same was true of our previous visit to Speyside in April. And today is no exception.

The sun is beating down on Glenlivet, the beautiful Glen which used to give it's name to so many different whiskies as a marque of quality (Longmorn-Glenlivet, Macallan-Glenlivet, etc). However, today we are the kind guest of THE Glenlivet for the opening of their brand-new Still Room, housing 6 new stills, complete with an official Royal visit.

Arriving with a thirst on, the first sight we were greeted by was a full operational "Smugglers Still". This little beauty (perfect for your shed at the end of the garden!) was churning out some wonderful new make. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it was the best new make I've ever had: fruity but with some weight, it was pure vanillas an exotic fruits. Lovely stuff. Now, can I fit this in my hand luggage for the journey home?!?

This gem of a still had been set up outside a warehouse and your eagle-eyed reporter noticed the door ajar. As it swung open I noticed a crowd gathered inside all huddled around an open cask.


The guys at The Glenlivet had only gone and opened a cask of whisky... from 1979! Regular readers will remember that '79 is this bloggers birth year. Last year, to celebrate my 30th I gathered together a load of classic bottles with whisky from 1979 in. And so to discover an open cask from that year was a total delight!

The Glenlivet - 1979 Warehouse Cask Sample - First Fill Sherry Butt - 54.9% ABV

Nose: Muesli, orages, very strong and heavy notes of dry sherry.

Palate: Huge hits of malt, this really doesn't taste 30 / 31 Years old, the is big sherry mixed with dusty notes of old books / church pews.

Finish: Very dry. With water it really opens up with the older notes of dusty pews coming through to a greater degree.

Overall: This is a good expression of a well aged, sherried Glenlivet which ultimately was a little too dry and oaky.

After wandering around this exceptionally beautiful distillery, we sat down for some much needed lunch. As an aperitif, we were given a glass of Glenlivet's celebration bottling to mark the opening of their new still room, the Founders Reserve. This is limited to just 1824 bottles, cunninly also the year Glenlivet was founded.

The Glenlivet - Founders Reserve - 21 Years Old - 1824 bottles only - 55.6% VOL

Nose: A big hit of fresh coffee and dark chocolate powder is carried by deep sherry notes, with some hazelnut and red fruit compote.

Palate: Bitter oranges, cloves and dry spices and cinnamon. With water fresh steamed green veg appears. This dram works better without water, note.

Finish: Dry with hot spices, Tomato sauce flavour crisps and some salt. Starts quite strong but finishes lovely and softly.

Overall: A cracking dram but it did tend to fall apart with the addition of water. There are some lovely rich notes here and the mix of coffee and chocolate is wonderful.

As the last drop of whisky fell from the glass into our mouths, the room began to shudder and shake... a helicopter was landing on the green outside, carrying a very special visitor: HRH The Prince of Wales (also known as The Duke Of Rothesay).

As we filed outside to the sundrenched courtyard, Prince Charles unveiled a statue to mark this special occasion. Then, totally unexpectedly he went for a walk, right in the direction of! A very brief conversation later and he was off down the line, chatting happily to some of the folk who had turned out for the day. In summary: Bloody nice chap!

That was our time at Speyside drawing to an end. A massive thank you to The Glenlivet for the invite. It was a truely wonderful experience.