The Glenlivet Alpha

by Matti

We take a little break from our regular scheduled programming to bring you this breaking news: I got my grubby paws on a sample of Glenlivet Alpha and will be reviewing it. Right now.  I may use what I have left in a blend and I may not. This is something which is uncertain, and is not uncertainty the mother of all progress of something like that? Probably. Anyway:

Glenlivet Alpha

The Glenlivet Alpha  (50% abv, no further info)  is part of what we see more and more of these days: an elaborate marketing stunt to promote a whisky involving all kinds of gimmicks, websites and events. This particular stunt is of the ‘slow, mysterious reveal’-variety where small bits of info are given out weekly for a while until the big reveal where it turns out to be just another bottle of whisky in pretty packaging. Now, the important bit under all that masquerading of course is: how does it taste? Let’s find out!

The Nose has white and yellow fruit of both the tropical and domestic varieties. Also present are hints of coconut and vanilla as well as other smells I associate with wood. It has a very sweet quality to it (I know, can’t smell ‘sweet’, but I associate the smell with sweet things), almost  cloying (not necessarily in a bad way). Adding some water I get toasted nuts as an added smell. Ah, toasted nuts. Wonderful. With water the taste becomes more drying, which isn’t an improvement.

On to the taste: spicy and drying are probably the main descriptors. (Alcohol-)prickly and peppery as well. Mild fruit, coconut and wood sap also make an appearrance. In the background is a very light touch of cask char. Quite a plain experience really after the complexity of the nose. Going into the finish it stays fairly prickly, but mellows out towards the end with a finish I find very similar to those offered by some bourbons, involving mandarin orange and young woodsap.

Overall this is without a doubt a malt which has seen its fair share of American white oak casks. At times it becomes very ‘bourbony’, but (especially on the nose) it displays a very ‘malty’ complexity. The taste lets it down a little bit after the excellent nose, but as a whole it is a good whisky. Not great, just good.

The Score: 3,5 out of 5 stars or 84 points on my personal scale.