“One is never enough”. A phrase I hear thrown around the pub quite often, but always seems to be in relation to getting a drink. For me personally, on this occasion, it was in regards to this company. I reviewed the Spirit Still Like a Villain earlier in the week, and found is to be head and shoulders above other Lagavulin, distillery bottled, independent or otherwise, that I have had over the years, so I wanted to see what the fellows from Spirit Still could do when given a Glenlivet (I just got the anagram). The answer? Quite bloody well, to be honest. If I had to guess, I would say that they got a hold of this cask because of some perceived imperfections in the spirit, or at least what seem like imperfections because this does not taste like a Glenlivet. And that’s something I have always appreciated; a whisky that is different to the norm, a cut of something new, something that defies expectations and takes the drinker on a journey further than ordering that drink at the local ever could. The spirit itself is 25 years old, distilled in 1992 and whacked into that bottle in 2017 at 51.4%, but that’s not something you can taste as the whisky brings all manner of unique flavours to the table, and that really is where Spirit Still seem to stand out; giving us whiskies we know we with a twist on them that makes you think “I hope someone at the distillery/marketing/research tastes this one”, just so we could see something like this come out more often. Then again, if it did, it wouldn’t be as special. Anyway, onto the whisky itself.
On the nose, this is what I always imagined playing hide and seek on a snow white Christmas to be like; liquorice all sorts streaming over rosy red apples, pure enough to make any Snow White want a bite. There’s touches more of wood sap, freshly ringed tree trunks, and then some moth’s balls on the back of that. Now this is where we step through the back of that old cupboard we were sequestered in to find ourselves in the snow blanketed pine forest of Narnia; Turkish delight, spearmint, rosewater, freshly felled trees, nice and crisp to the point that I thought I had put some ice in my whisky but no, its just that chillingly good.
Once we have that taste we really get into the good stuff, with the fresh pine wood giving a full backing and base, while we see mint, lime (Mojitos in the woods?), more sweet liquorice now being thrown at us by a cheeky snowman wearing a pineapple for a hat, lychees for eyes and coconut lamingtons for hands. The whisky finishes with toasted nuts and orange oil on the back end as we step back through the portal to Narnia and trip over Terry’s chocolate oranges, and fall face first into a bowl of fruit salad (cream, lychees, pineapple, and apples) with sprinklings of mint and thyme.
The best part of the dram is that it was unexpected, a different whisky to what you normally will find in a bottle of Glenlivet, whether young, old, ex bourbon or otherwise (its also cheaper than the distillery 25-year-old…). With that difference comes clarity, and while the whisky is, admittedly, not as polished as others, it’s those amazing notes that makes it a more exciting and interesting dram all around. A stunning whisky, well worth picking up a dram, or a bottle if there are any left.