|The Guardians Chapter drams|
We're giving our most loyal followers, The Guardians of The Glenlivet, the opportunity to choose which whisky – Classic, Revival or Exotic – will become our next Limited Edition single malt.
20th and 21st September - Sir Stamford Hotel, Sydney
22nd and 23rd September - The Woolshed, Melbourne
25th September - Port Office Hotel, Brisbane
26th September - Sosta Argentinian Kitchen, Adelaide
27th September- Grosvenor Hotel, Perth
1st October- Char Restaurant, Darwin
Sounds great doesn't it? I was certainly bouncing with anticipation at such a exclusive opportunity. Now before we carry on I have had to let this post distill for a while to really figure out what should be discussed. Is this about the event, is it about the whisky, or is it about the experience? In the end there are things in my mind that have not abated so I fell some observations need to be explored about the experience even though they are not all that positive. In short the food was excellent but completely wrong, the whisky tasting was impressive but was rushed and served at the wrong time whisk in turn effected my tasting and voting. So let us break this down as things progressed.
|The Glenlivet Ginza – PR photograph|
|The menu and one happy Alchemist|
Taking our allocated setting we had a small presentation by the man himself, Tetsuya. I had always wanted to experience his restaurant so I was even more amazed to know he would be doing the meal himself. Tetsuya certainly seemed humbled to be asked to have a go and matching his cuisine with The Glenlivet. Honestly he looked tired and was constantly having to rest against a table as he spoke. I wonder if the stress of the event was getting to him as this may explain what I have to say later. It was good to see the man himself though. Soon after we were seated and our 8 course degustation meal was served paired with a selection of The Glenlivet expressions; 12yo, 15yo, and 18yo. So it almost hurts my heart to poke at Tetsuya's ribs with a blunt stick and say I think the food pairing was a botched disaster. My palate was confused not only with the whisky but also with the food it was supposed to match. We were jumping from 12yo to 18yo back to 15yo then back and forth over and over again. Meanwhile we were expected to absorb the foods that were sometimes extremely conflicting. Quite honestly (like I have not been already) I just do not think the food worked at all. Overly complicated instead or short and complimentary. If anything 1 whisky for the whole meal is a much more sensible approach. Regrettably, and because I knew better, I had a scaring personal experience. The final main to be served was the Cape Grim Short Rib with Apple Eggplant & Fresh Green Peppercorns. Yes that's right whole peppercorns = Fatal. Compounded this was served right before the actual reason the event was to happen, tasting and voting for the whiskies. Caught up in the moment and busily writing notes I failed to remember a personal advice "Don't eat this dish". Bang! I ate a cluster of whole pepper corns searing my palate with intense spice. I literally freaked out at the table and could not taste anything else after that with any sense of reason. I felt like Gollum"it burns, it bites, it stings". Never before have I gargled whisky but in this case a big mouthful of 12yo served to try and quench the flames. Big time amateur mistake to serve anything spicy or hot when just about to do a whisky tasting. Major fail and believe me I know because other club members and myself have done this before. Do it once and never ever do it again. I partly blame myself because I knew better.
|Tetsuya and Laura|
Following is my initial notes hastily jotted down for each expression. I am not confident in these notes and would like an opportunity to try them all again as my palate suffered a very unfortunate catastrophe of biblical proportions.
Revival - ex-Bourbon and new White Oaks (I do not know the proportions). On the nose it smelt young with some high sweet barley sugar, peaches and sake notes but also a little cardboard dust. In the taste I received a punet of strawberries and toffy while the finish was medium with a mild burn in the throat.
Classic - ex-Sherry Spanish Oak and ex-American white oak with a 50/50 vatting. The nose presented intense caramels, cardboard dust again intensified, nuts and spices. The sherry was clearly present. To taste my palate was much more accepting of the smoothness and it became palate coating and chewy. Finish was warmer that left a tackiness in the mouth that became more dry the longer it was left.
Exotic - ex-Sherry Spanish Oak and ex-American White Oak with a 70/30 vatting. The nose was hit with intense caramels, dried apricots, furniture polish and christmas cake. The palate was delivered lots of nuts and ride fruits, with a very oily and chewy mouth feel. The Sherry was all in the from now. Finish was hot and long and way too over balanced. I lost all sense of The Glenlivet's more traditional expression at this point.
It was said that all bottling were at 48.5% but it is clear by the bottles displayed that the Classic was at 48.7%. I have chosen not to even bother scoring these whiskies as I cannot be certain about any of them.
|The voting system|
I am not a fan of the concept of 'crowdsourcing' and working in the design industry I know for a fact that the client is more often wrong than right. This is why professionals exist, that is to look at a market and make an assessments without bias for what is most appropriate. We all remember the debacle of Vegemite 'iSnack 2.0' do we not? Or did you just scrub that from the memory. I think this is the potential risk that The Glenlivet is taking but at least it is only 2000 bottles.
So in the end granted this was the first of many events to follow for The Glenlivet but it needs to be noted that the flow of the night was all backward. Really we should have arrived and sat straight down to get on with tasting. This way guests could absorb the whisky, talk amongst ourselves, share the experience and cast a vote when ready. It was meant to be a collective event after all but our isolation at the tables while being rushed to responded nullified the opportunity. Unfortunately, we sat, we ate, we ate more, drunk more whisky, ate more and so on until it got to the point people looked tired and bored and quite literarily full to the brim.
|That lonely bottle of The Glenlivet 25yo|
I really appreciate the opportunity no question and thank all involved. I hope what has been mentioned here actually helps to assist in developing the experience for others in the future and it is a sad fact in my books the launch could have gone a lot better and I am sure my experience very different.
The Glenlivet GinzaGlenlivet 15 year old stirred to perfection until ice cold with dry sake, plum wine and orange bitters served straight up in a frozen Cocktail glass.
45ml Glenlivet 15yo
10ml good quality Dry Sake
5ml Choya Plum Wine
2 drops orange bitters
Glass: Frozen martini Coupe
Garnish: Lemon Zest spray oil on drink then discard, Sanshō or Sichuan button or Edible flower
Method: Stir Manhattan Style, Double strain into a ice gold glass, garnish and serve