Tasting: Longmorn-Glenlivet Pure Malt 12 yo (1980s)

Longmorn-Glenlivet Pure Malt 12 yo (1980s)Dram data:
Distillery: Longmorn-Glenlivet
Bottler: Gordon & Macphail, licensed bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 1980s
Age: 12 years
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40
unknown colouring/filtering
Whiskybase link (similar, but older bottling)

There are things you just can’t say no to – like this wee old miniature bottle of whisky I stumbled across in Arkwright’s Wine and Spirit shop earlier this year. Who would pass on the opportunity to experience what whisky bottled decades ago tasted like? This was bottled in the 1980s as a licensed bottling by Gordon & Macphail, distilled in the 1970s – some of the new make might have even been produced when Longmorn was a distillery with only two stills and those were fired directly. Back then what we now call “Single Malt” was called “Pure Malt” and distilleries proclaimed their region by attaching “-Glenlivet” to their name. Those were the times – and they are now bottled history! Anyway, all of that means almost nothing if the whisky is bad, so let’s dive right in!

Tasting notes:
The nose features a surprising amount of alcohol for a 40% whisky. Once the alcohol settles down, a dry, layered, spicy, sherried whisky is revealed. We’ve got orange peel, ginger, nutmeg, a whole truckload of cloves and cinnamon and dusty beeswax on a base of dried apricots and sulphured sultanas with a smidgen of motor oil on top (the good kind, you know…). Nicely layered and balanced, not flabby at all. We’re off to a very good start here.  Let’s check the palate! 

Oh! Interesting. The alcohol is still strong with this one – we’re on pepper, ginger and orange peel territory here initially. Very active wood involved here – loads of spices (cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg). The base behind these brash initial notes does lag a bit behind, it’s where the 40% bottling strength become somewhat noticeable in the end. Yes, the beeswax, the dried apricots and the sultanas are still there and so is the old motor oil. Texture-wise it’s on the dry side, but still oily, coating the entire mouth. Very enjoyable.
The long finish has a touch of soapiness and alcohol upon swallowing which swiftly get taken over by ginger, caramelized oranges, touches of dried apricots and sultanas before the long-lasting, dusty spices and a pinch of oil kick in that carry it till the very end.

Verdict: Oh this took me by surprise! At a mere 40% ABV and given a somewhat low fill level I expected it to be flat but was rewarded with just the opposite. A very nice, layered, heavily sherried whisky with undeniable spicy European oak influences that packs a punch and punches above its weight. In a blind tasting I’d put this at 20+ years of age – and, who knows, as it was bottled in the 80s when the industry was facing tough times and distillery closures, it might contain whiskies far older than 12 years. Anyway, a very rewarding dram that’s worth seeking out!

Score: 88/100
(Nose: 89 Palate: 87 Finish: 86)

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2 Replies to “Tasting: Longmorn-Glenlivet Pure Malt 12 yo (1980s)”

  1. Hallo Maltklaus,

    das ist ja eine spannende Abfüllung. Haben heute zufällig auch gerade beim Whiskyherbst in Berlin alte Malts aus den 1970ern im Glas gehabt. Es ist doch faszinierend zu sehen, wie unterschiedlich beispielsweise Caol Ila damals geschmeckt hat. Damals waren einfach auch noch unbequeme Aromen mit drin – wie in deinem Longmorn z.B. der Geschmack von “Motoröl”…

    Viele Grüße

    1. Hallo Lukas,
      entschuldige bitte die späte Freischaltung und danke für deinen Kommentar! Ich stimme dir absolut zu – es ist unheimlich spannend, Whiskies aus vergangener Zeit zu verkosten und Unterschiede zu entdecken. Erst kürzlich hatte ich zum Beispiel einen Glenmorangie 10, abgefüllt in den 90ern. Da war Leben im Glas, dagegen ist die heutige Version flach und unspannend! Es gibt aber auch gegenteilige Beispiele wo heutige Versionen besser und konsistenter sind. Generell haben mehr “gute” denn “schlechte” Flaschen die Zeit überstanden, was unsere heutige Sicht auf “damals” etwas verzerrt. Nichts desto trotz immer spannend!

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