“We were trying to allow more of the distillery character to come through.”
Alan Winchester has been in the whisky business for 40 years, so if the current Master Distiller of The Glenlivet simply wants to accentuate what’s already working for the Speyside label, he’s entitled to try.
That distinct character is gonna cost you, however — around $25,000.
The Glenlivet just debuted Winchester Collection Vintage 1967, the third and final installment of a limited-edition series to honor Winchester. Only 150 handcrafted bottles of the expression were created, and only 33 of those will ever hit these shores. And each is priced at $25K at launch.
Fortunately, we got to try a few sips at a small launch event on Thursday night at Ian Schrager’s new Times Square EDITION Hotel in midtown NYC. And we were lucky enough to sit next to Winchester, who likes his Scotch with a fair amount of water, thank you very much.
The 1967 is a blend of rare single malts, the youngest laid down by former The Glenlivet Master Distiller Robert Arthur in 1967. The malts here were sourced from several rare oak casks, and the whisky itself is non-chill-filtered at cask strength (48% ABV).
Encased in a handcrafted bottle and case designed with the help of designer Bethan Gray (a one-time “Best British Designer” awardee at the British Design Awards), every bottle of 1967 is also engraved and hand-painted, so each one is unique. The hand-stained bird’s-eye maple case is made using solid copper overlays (which reflect The Glenlivet’s charred barrels and copper stills) and the mother-of-pearl inlaid into the case was inspired by the local freshwater pearl mussel shells indigenous to the Spey River.
(We got to hold the case for a minute: it’s extremely heavy. As well, it’s not as showy or ornate as other five- and six-figure spirits we’ve witnessed … in a good way.)
The previous expressions of the Winchester Collection, released in 2014 and 2016, “were very sherry influenced,” Winchester told us. “This time, we wanted the European oak and American oak to influence the liquid. And we wanted the whisky to fruity and floral with a hint of toffee, pineapple and banana. I call it ‘banaoffee,’ actually. It’s the Speyside style of The Glenlivet.”
Let’s dig in, shall we?
On the nose, you’ll find rich, fruity, ripe pears, some apricot jam and a hint of roasted almonds. We had tried the 15-, 18- and 21-year expressions just before this, and these were pretty consistent themes throughout the tasting.
It coats the mouth. Very smooth, with a “lovely mouthfeel,” as Winchester rightly noted. Milk chocolate and orange were present, although we had admittedly had a bit of chocolate beforehand (which pairs nicely).
Finally, a long and lingering aftertaste, with absolutely zero burn.
Should you buy it? If you’re a fan of The Glenlivet, the new 50-year expression is simply a smoother, richer and more grand presentation of the characteristics you already love.
Us? We’ll be fine with the much more affordable and delicately spicy 15 Year, aged in French oak that’s better known for maturing cognacs. It’s also .24 percent of the price … while still offering plenty of the distillery’s character.
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