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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tuesday Review: The Glenlivet 15 French Oak Reserve

By John Barecki

For the Tuesday Review this week I decided to try a whisky from one of the most well-know distillery's in the Speyside region in Scotland, The Glenlivet. I chose their 15-year-old French Oak Reserve, the wood characteristics of which conjure up some interesting new flavors on the palate. In fact, the flavors intrigued me so much I began researching the various effects of wood-aging in the world of whisky. I looked specifically at Limousin oak, the wood used to age The Glenlivet 15.

Limousin (pronounced lee-moo-ZAN) is a European oak and is popularly used in the production of fine Cognac's. It is medium-grained and a bit harder than other European oaks. It's also quite porous, which in turn provides the whisky more ability to leech larger amounts of tannins and characters from the wood itself. That being said, the flavors imparted are mainly a rich vanilla quality similar to that of the American white oak used in bourbons and whiskies, and the distinct hints of wood are strong but balanced. I should note too that the casks made from this oak are some of the most expensive in the world.

The Glenlivet 15-year-old Reserve shares similar notes with the 12, in that it has the smooth mouthfeel and general fruity character found in most of The Glenlivet lineup. The nose is filled with resinous oak, almond, marzipan and candied citrus fruits. A very smooth body compliments tastes of baked apple with a medium nuttiness and toffee, followed with the complexity of the wood adding a nice vanilla finish that lingers just long enough. This is a very good dram and at $52.99 a bottle it once again is an affordable luxury that most can enjoy.

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