Wednesday 2 September 2015

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve Launch (Tasted #210)

The Glenlivet, as a single malt brand, has a remarkable global standing, being the second biggest selling single malt globally after Glenfiddich and also being the biggest selling single malt brand in the US and also here in Australia (Martin: Although according to the folks at Glenfiddich when we visited a few weeks ago, they've actually been overtaken, and The Glenlivet now holds the #1 global spot). Locally, the Glenlivet shares similar fanfare with its core range of the 12yo, 15yo and 18yo (as well as the Nadurra, 21yo and the 25yo XXV).

Its long-standing 12yo expression had remained a consistent winner locally with its sweet, pleasant and smooth notes at a price point that would not put much of a dent in the pocket. With the launch of the Glenlivet Founder's Reserve (a new NAS release), it has been confirmed that the 12yo will be phased out in Australia by year end - having been (technically) replaced by the Founder's Reserve. The 12yo will remain available in some markets globally (Hong Kong for one, where two different 12yo variants are readily available).

The new Founder's Reserve expression was described by Ben Davidson, The Glenlivet Brand Ambassador as an expression that was carefully curated by Alan Winchester, Master Distiller of The Glenlivet, to pay tribute to founder George Smith who had founded the distillery in 1824.

To celebrate the release and to preview the Founder's Reserve, Pernod Ricard held a launch event at an exclusive penthouse residence in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney. As with previous Pernod Ricard tastings and launch events, we knew that this event was not going to be an ordinary affair (back in 2013, Pernod Ricard hosted the launch of 'The Guardian's Chapter' at one of Sydney's top restaurants, Tetsuya's). Upon walking into the residence, the first thing I noticed was the sweeping view of Sydney harbour. The second thing I noticed was the Founder's Reserve bottle. Elegantly placed and presented, the single Founder's Reserve bottle was displayed as a feature in the lounge area amongst teal coloured candles - a beautiful sight.

Then there was this large Glenlivet ice sculpture which was placed next to the Bartender's table and attracted quite a bit of attention on the night -- especially from those who prefer their dram on the rocks (kidding). Various canapés, the Founder's Reserve Cocktail and the Founder's Reserve, neat, were served throughout the night and allowed guests a sneak preview of the whisky before the official introduction of the event and the Founder's Reserve expression by Pernod Ricard’s Marketing Manager, Sladjan Maksimovic and The Glenlivet’s aforementioned Brand Ambassador, Ben Davidson.

Sladjan spoke briefly to welcome guests to the event and Ben followed with a short presentation on the Founder's Reserve and its true attribution to George Smith's vision of establishing an exceptional, smooth malt whisky that was then named simply 'The Glenlivet'. Ben continued by providing a few intricate details regarding the Founder's Reserve, including the select use of ex-American oak barrels and ex-American oak first fill barrels to produce the final malt. Interestingly, the use of the American oak first fill barrels adds another level of sweetness to the final malt as all the vanillins from the American oak are absorbed by the malt, to which we shall attest shortly.

Ben pointed to a couple of features on the bottle worth noting; the first being George Smith's signature, emblazoned across the bottom of the bottle, signifying George's seal of approval on the malt; and the second being a signifier detailing the Packhorse Bridge that crosses the Livet River in the Livet Valley, signifying the birth of The Glenlivet in 1824. The intention being that these details may help to market the Founder's Reserve as a more modern whisky and also one that carries a notable backstory.

Shortly after the presentation, Ben suggested that we ought to pick up our share of the Founder's Reserve and take a moment to appreciate this expression.

The Glenlivet Founder's Reserve (40% ABV, NAS, OB, Speyside, Scotland, $49.95AUD)
A simple, delicate single malt whisky. The smooth and sweet profile of the Founder's Reserve makes it quite a nice dram that you can have any day of the week throughout the year.

Colour: Light gold

Nose: The nose is soft and there are hints of 
peach, vanilla, meringue, orange peel with a slight toffee and oaky notes.

Palate: The palate is delicate, smooth and sweet; vanilla ,toffee and caramel sweet. After some time, the sweetness on the palate then gives into hints of cardamon and orange citrus oil.

Finish: The finish is relatively short and simple, though the smoothness and the sweetness of the malt from the palate lingers for a while longer.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 88/100.

The Founder's Reserve is now available locally alongside other The Glenlivet expressions including the 12yo, though the 12yo will be discontinued after the end of the year.

Thanks to the Pernod Ricard Australia and Cav Con for having us as part of, what was undoubtedly, an excellent celebration to welcome the new The Glenlivet expression into the local The Glenlivet family.


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