I’m a huge fan of Glenlivet, one of the reasons why I visited them only a week ago near Tomintoul, Scotland. The tour of their distillery was a lot of fun, more on that later, but my real treat of Glenlivet wasn’t until I visited the World Duty Free store in Heathrow Airport. I visited the store, which you can’t possibly miss, last year after a trip to England and picked up quite a few bottles of Scotch, many of which still sit on my shelves, and this time I wanted to get some more.
I started talking to one of the salespeople and we got to discussing The Glenlivet. I told him about how I had visited the distillery, something he wanted to do, and I told him I enjoyed the 18 when he asked if I was interested in trying out the XXV. I had been looking at their taster’s try earlier and didn’t really see anything I wanted to try (mostly younger maturities of brands I was already familiar with), so I was surprised when he opened up the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of the XXV.The >Glenlivet XXV was silky smooth and spicy, reminiscent of their 18. You could tell it was finished in sherry casks because it had a definite sweetness. The tasting notes say it has raisins with a floral nose but I was lost in the nutty spiciness. Overall, it was a fantastic dram and what you would expect with a bottle priced at £175.00 retail. This would rank as the second most expensive dram I’ve ever sampled, second only to the Macallan Fine Oak 30 year, priced at £321 at the Macallan Distillery.
I enjoy scotch but the thought of spending £143, or about $236, on a single bottle was a bit much. I’m not against spending money for quality, but I don’t think I have the ability to truly appreciate and enjoy scotch of that caliber. With that being said, I think my money is better spent buying three or four bottles of more affordable scotch.That’s when I took a look at The Glenlivet 21, which was a fraction of the price (£68.99 retail). The salesperson surprised me even more when he said that he has the 21 too, pulling it out from the secret compartment to let me try a bit. I enjoyed the 21 a lot, it lacked the spicy finish of the XXV and the nose had a lot more fruit and cinnamon. I’m glad I tried it because otherwise I would never have bought it! £68.99 (it was much less in duty-free) is a lot to spend on a brand you like when you don’t know what the scotch will be like, £68.99 is not a lot for a 21 year old scotch you know you’ll enjoy.
The real lesson here is that you should try before you buy and try it in duty free for free.