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The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet rather grandly styles itself as “the single malt that started it all” but there’s more than a grain of truth to its claim. In the early 18th and 19th century most Highland malt whisky was distilled illegally. Despite its shady beginnings, Glenlivet had a reputation that reached as far as London. Indeed when George IV visited the region in 1822, he wanted to try the fabled Glenlivet and was given something that was described as “whisky long in wood, long in uncorked bottles, mild as milk, and the true contraband gout in it.”

The man behind that famed dram was George Smith, a tenant farmer on land belonging to Alexander Gordon, Duke of Gordon. The Duke, not surprisingly, was a great advocate for reforming the draconian legislation around distilling so that he could commercialise it. 1823 saw the passing of the Excise Act which liberalised distilling but also provided more resources and power to excise officers. One of the first people to take advantage of the new laws was George Smith who built a new distillery at Glenlivet in the Highlands on what was once a farm distillery called Upper Drummin.

Threats were made on George Smith’s life by smugglers and the story goes that he took to carrying a pair of pistols to protect himself against those who stood to lose their livelihoods but he held firm. In this he was backed by government legislation and a sympathetic landlord. The statistics tell the story: 14000 illicit distilling activities were uncovered in 1823, but by 1834 it was down to 692. Illicit distillation never became a major problem again.

In just two years after the act, the number of licensed distilleries doubled and legal whisky production rose from two million to six million gallons a year. Glenlivet was so prestigious that it gave its name to the whole region, now known as Speyside. To help preserve his brand, George Smith’s son, John Gordon Smith, applied for sole rights to the name, which were granted in 1884 but allowed other producers to hyphenate it with their own names eg. Glenfarclas-Glenlivet, which is still seen today, though very rarely. Which is why the original is known grandly as THE Glenlivet to differentiate itself from all those hyphenated Glenlivets.

Glenlivet made a different style of whisky to that which was current in the region, producing a lighter fruitier new make, something that has continued to this day. The whisky was such a success that he built another distillery in 1850 at Delnabo which never really functioned properly due to problems with the water supply. There were further problems when the original distillery burned down in 1858, something of a perennial problem in the whisky business. In 1859, he opened a new distillery near Ballindalloch where it remains to this day.

As well as being sold as a single malt, Glenlivet was much in demand by blenders. Blended whisky was taking off in the 19th century, most notably by Edinburg merchant Andrew Usher with his OVG (Old Vatted Glenlivet) which was launched in 1852 and had The Glenlivet as a principle component in the blend. By the 20th century the vast majority of the distillery’s production was going for fillings but in the 1970s Glenlivet once again began to market itself as a single malt, especially in the lucrative US market.

The distillery remained in family hands until in 1952, when it merged with Glen Grant and eventually formed a small group with Longmorn and Benriach distilleries, and the firm of blenders Hill, Thompson & Co. Then, in 1978, Canadian multinational Seagram took a £46 million controlling stake in the business and The Glenlivet became part of the Chivas Brothers portfolio. When Seagram collapsed in 2001, Pernod Ricard took over Chivas Brothers. Under this new ownership, as part of a £10 million investment, an extension with an additional mash tun, eight washbacks and six stills was opened by the Prince of Wales on 5 June 2010, with the capacity of the distillery increased by 75%, to 10.5 million litres per year.

Today the set-up consists of two 13.5 ton mash tuns with 16 Oregon pine and 16 stainless steel washbacks. Distillation takes place in 14 lamp-glass copper stills. The distillery uses unpeated malt and according to former master distiller Alan Winchester still carries the DNA of George Smith’s mid 19th century Glenlivet. The range stretches from the sweet honeyed Founder’s Reserve, through classic age statements like the 12 and 18 year olds, takes in cask finishes like the rum barrel Caribbean Reserve, and goes up to stratospherically expensive very old releases. The Glenlivet is the best-selling single malt in America and the second best-selling in the world.

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Allargue - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 59.3%

Another bottling in Glenlivet's Single Cask Edition series - this time it was aged for 18 years in cask #96421 and bottled in January 2016 with an outturn of 660 bottles. This edition has been given…  More info

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Allargue - Single Cask Edition

Glenlivet 9 Year Old 2006 (cask 901043) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 46%

9 year old single malt from the ever-dependable Glenlivet distillery, drawn from a single first fill Sherry butt! Said Sherry butt was filled in October 2006 and cracked open in August 2016 by…  More info

Glenlivet 9 Year Old 2006 (cask 901043) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900254) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 46%

Glenfiddich single malt, drawn from a single first fill Sherry butt which matured the whisky for 10 years! This was distilled in April 2007 and bottled in September 2017 by Signatory for the…  More info

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900254) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

Smith's Glenlivet 1966 (bottled 2014) - Gordon & MacPhail

70cl, 40%

An independent bottling of Glenlivet single malt Scotch whisky, distilled all the way back in 1966 and bottled in 2014 by the esteemed Gordon & MacPhail. This is presented with a gloriously retro…  More info

Smith's Glenlivet 1966 (bottled 2014) - Gordon & MacPhail

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Ladderfoot - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 58.6%

Another official single cask bottling from The Glenlivet named after one of the farms in the Livet valley, Ladderfoot spent its 16 year maturation period in a Sherry butt (cask 120960).  More info

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Ladderfoot - Single Cask Edition

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Batch OL0816

70cl, 61.3%

Glenlivet's popular Nàdurra range features whisky produced in small batches, bottled at cask strength without any chill-filtration or additional colours - consequently, it should be no surprise that…  More info

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Batch OL0816
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Glenlivet 41 Year Old 1974 (cask 1) - Cask Strength Collection Rare Reserve (Signatory)

70cl, 46.8%

41 year old single malt Scotch whisky from the Glenlivet distillery, which was initially aged in a hogshead cask and finished (for 48 months) in Oloroso Sherry oak! This was distilled in March 1974…  More info

Glenlivet 41 Year Old 1974 (cask 1) - Cask Strength Collection Rare Reserve (Signatory)

Glenlivet 8 Year Old 2007 - The Library Collection (Edinburgh Whisky Ltd.)

70cl, 46%

An 8 year old Glenlivet, matured in a first fill Sherry butt from March 2007 to June 2015. This comes presented by new independent bottlers Edinburgh Whisky Ltd. as part of their Library Collection -…  More info

Glenlivet 8 Year Old 2007 - The Library Collection (Edinburgh Whisky Ltd.)
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The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Batch OL0317

70cl, 60.3%

Sherried Glenlivet single malt, released as part of the Nàdurra range. This was aged in first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks before being bottled without any chill-filtration or additional colours, and…  More info

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso Batch OL0317
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Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900250) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 46%

10 year old single malt from the legendary Glenlivet distillery, drawn from a single first-fill sherry butt which was laid down in April 2007 and cracked open in June 2017. Another glorious bottling…  More info

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900250) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

Glenlivet 45 Year Old 1968 (cask 2833) - Tantalus (Duncan Taylor)

70cl, 40.8%

This well-aged whisky is a 45 year old single malt from the renowned Glenlivet distillery, distilled way back in 1968. It was bottled as part of Duncan Taylor's Tantalus range, which features…  More info

Glenlivet 45 Year Old 1968 (cask 2833) - Tantalus (Duncan Taylor)

The Glenlivet Nàdurra First Fill Selection Batch FF0117

70cl, 59.1%

Glenlivet's Nàdurra expressions are all bottled at cask strength and without any chill-filtration - hence the name, which means 'Natural' in Gaelic. This bottling comes from their First Fill…  More info

The Glenlivet Nàdurra First Fill Selection Batch FF0117
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Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 - Artist Collective (La Maison du Whisky)

70cl, 48%

10 year old sherried single malt from the Glenlivet distillery, independently bottled by La Maison du Whisky for its Artist Collective bottling range. It was distilled in 2007 and matured in a pair…  More info

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 - Artist Collective (La Maison du Whisky)

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish

70cl, 61.5%

Matured in first-fill ex-bourbon casks before a finishing period in casks that previously held heavily peated (Speyside peat, as we understand it) Scotch whisky. This third no age statement Nàdurra…  More info

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish
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Glenlivet 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

50cl, 48.7%

27 year old single malt from the legendary Glenlivet distillery - the first Glenlivet bottling from That Boutique-y Whisky Company! The label of this incredible whisky references the distillery's…  More info

Glenlivet 27 Year Old (That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
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The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Tollafraick - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 57.2%

Another Single Cask Edition whisky from The Glenlivet distillery, boasting a name with a bit of history behind it. This 16 year old single was bestowed the title Tollafraick, which comes from a…  More info

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Tollafraick - Single Cask Edition

Glenlivet 18 Year Old (Old Bottling)

70cl, 43%

An older style bottling of Glenivet's ace 18 year old single malt Scotch whisky, sure to be rather popular with collectors and Glenlivet enthusiasts (Glenliventhusiasts?). This bottle was part of…  More info

Glenlivet 18 Year Old (Old Bottling)

The Glenlivet 14 Year Old Conglass - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 59.8%

Single malt Scotch whisky from The Glenlivet distillery, matured in a single hogshead cask (#41723) for 14 years before being bottled in February 2014 at 59.8% ABV. The name, Conglass, comes from the…  More info

The Glenlivet 14 Year Old Conglass - Single Cask Edition

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900255) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)

70cl, 46%

Who wouldn't want a single malt Scotch whisky that's been aged for ten years in a first-fill sherry butt from Glenlivet - I mean honestly? Signatory clearly appreciate this beautiful liquid, as they…  More info

Glenlivet 10 Year Old 2007 (cask 900255) - Un-Chillfiltered Collection (Signatory)
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The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Gallow - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 51.8%

An official bottling of single cask Glenlivet, matured in a single hogshead (cask 142608), this release is named after the hill above the distillery where the local gallows were located.  More info

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Gallow - Single Cask Edition

Glenlivet 31 Year Old 1972 (cask 1024) - Very Rare (R. N. MacDonald)

70cl, 52.3%

An R. N. MacDonald bottling of well-aged Glenlivet, distilled in 1972 and bottled 31 years later in 2003. Release as part of the Very Rare series, and it is most certainly rare indeed. This bottle…  More info

Glenlivet 31 Year Old 1972 (cask 1024) - Very Rare (R. N. MacDonald)

SMWS 2.64 29 Year Old 1975

70cl, 56%

29 year old single malt from the Glenlivet distillery, released by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This one was distilled all the way back in December 1975, and bottled in October 2005. As is the way…  More info

SMWS 2.64 29 Year Old 1975

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish Batch PW1016

70cl, 62%

Another batch from Glenlivet's fantastic Nàdurra range. Coming from the Peated Whisky Cask Finish series with the Nàdurra range, this cask strength, non-chill-filtered single malt has enjoyed a…  More info

The Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Whisky Cask Finish Batch PW1016
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The Glenlivet 18 Year Old (1L) (Old Bottling)

100cl, 43%

An old bottling of 18 year old single malt from famed Speyside distillery, Glenlivet! This collectible 1 litre bottling features a rather understated label, which looks very different compared to…  More info

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old (1L) (Old Bottling)

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Glencuie - Single Cask Edition

70cl, 59.1%

16 year old single malt from the Glenlivet distillery, drawn from a single cask. This was bottled in December 2016 and given the name Glencuie (after Glencuie Cottage). 234 bottles were produced,…  More info

The Glenlivet 16 Year Old Glencuie - Single Cask Edition

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