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Introducing a new single malt Scotch whisky column

Introducing a new single malt Scotch whisky column

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Welcome to what I hope will be the first of many conversations about single malt Scotch whisky. (In Scotland, it’s not Scotch, just ‘whisky,’ no ‘e.’) My first single malt, with my father not long after I turned legal age, was the classic representation of Speyside whisky, The Glenlivet 12. It also happens to be our personal favorite distillery.

For decades, many other Speyside and Highland distilleries hyphenated their names to glean some of the cachet that The Glenlivet had to help sell their whisky – until The Glenlivet sued to stop using its name. (You can purchase old bottles of Macallan-Glenlivet at auction to this day.) That’s why officially, it’s The Glenlivet. ‘Glen’ is Gaelic for valley, so Glenlivet actually refers to the Valley of the River Livet, with flows near the distillery. It’s also why so many Speyside and Highland malts start with Glen (currently 25!)

So what better distillery to dive into than a limited expression, available while it lasts, from The Glenlivet – Glenlivet 12 First Fill. First Fill refers to the whisky being aged in first fill ex-bourbon barrels, which transfers some of the flavors of the bourbon that was once in the cask to the Scotch whisky. By law, Scotch whisky can only be made from barley, water and yeast, must be distilled in Scotland, and must be aged in Scotland for at least three years. Since bourbon barrels can only be used once to age bourbon, a great many of them are broken down, shipped across the pond, rebuilt into barrels and filled with Scotch.

This Glenlivet 12 First Fill, like the classic Glenlivet 12, is aged at least 12 years. Whereas in the classic 12 you get notes of apples and honey, the First Fill adds copious quantities of butter and vanilla. It’s creamy and well-balanced. And on the finish, you can taste a bit of buttered popcorn. It’s bottled at 43.2 percent ABV and does not need any water. But I always say it’s your whisky, drink it how you like.

Remarkably flavorful and well-balanced, Glenlivet 12 First Fill is available in Lincoln at The Still for $56.99. It’s also available by the pour at Cigarz Lounge, Capital Cigar Lounge, Pour Craft Beer & Spirits and Jake’s Cigars. The distributor tells me there is no more currently available at the warehouse, and The Glenlivet has removed it from its website, so get it while you can.

Mark Feit was introduced to single malt Scotch whisky by his father in the late ‘90s. It became something for father and son to do together, and they started collecting single malt Scotch together around 10 years ago. Their collection now counts over 350 bottles, with two trips to Scotland in the last five years to visit the source. Another trip is planned in May, followed by a hosted whisky tour of Scotland through Executive Travel in June 2020. Mark also belongs to a whisky club, the Flatwater Whisky Society, and enjoys sharing single malt Scotch with friends new and old.

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