This edition of the Whisky Showdown pits two twelve year old that are most likely staples in many home bars. The Macallan 12 is extremely popular and has been for many years. the same could be said of its challenger the Glenlivet 12. For those with limited space or facing a decision as to which to order at the bar, this tasting should provide some guidance.
Let us start as usual with the visuals. The Macallan is a darker colour than the Glenlivet with a deep amber hue compared to the latter’s light gold appearance. They both produce thin, quick running legs after a good swirl of the glass, however the Macallan appears to run slightly slower.
On the nose, the Macallan whiffs of sherry, oak, hints of honey and fruit. The Glenlivet’s much more sweet in comparison and softer overall with its notes of vanilla and fruit. The sherry and oak mark the Macallan whereas the vanilla and apple mark the Glenlivet. Both have a similar hint of orange and citrus. An interesting introduction to both, but the Macallan seems to have the edge in arousing interest with its bolder and more complex introduction.
On the palate, the Macallan is about sherry, oak, honey, orange peels, and a hint of smoke delivered in a chewy texture that is well balanced and complex. The Glenlivet is an exercise in apple, fruit, and vanilla in a more watery, though slightly chewy texture that results in a very easy drinking experience. The Glenlivet has some hints of wood, not nearly as rich as the Macallan and even hints of milk chocolate to contrast with the Macallan’s approach to sherry and oak.
The finish on the Macallan gives way to more smoke and dark chocolate versus the Glenlivet’s milk chocolatey impression. The Macallan lasts longer and eases into some variations on what the nose and palate had shown while the Glenlivet’s shorter finish is less diverse.
Overall, the Macallan is the winner due to its more interesting overall profile. However, the Glenlivet goes down easy and may appeal to a broader base as a result. I will go ahead and name the Macallan the winner here but stress that the Glenlivet is a good drink as an everyday dram and probably will satisfy more guests at parties and events while the Macallan is more suited to those who already have a more profound appreciation for whisky. Congratulations to the Macallan, you can find my review of the winner here, and my review of the Glenlivet here.