This past Sunday I was provided a monumental birthday gift. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of scotch that shared my birth year. The Glenlivet limited edition 1983 French Oak Finish was the fourth of an elite Cellar Collection produced by Master Distiller Jim Cryle. It was released in 2003 and has been described as one of the more complex Glenlivet’s to date. In 1983 the journey began for this bourbon and sherry barreled whiskey when some of the most exceptional casks were hand picked and set aside. In 2000 Cryle chose some of these select “intense spirits” and transferred them into new, lightly roasted, French Limousin casks for their final three years of aging. After 20 years, the best of these French oak finished whiskies were bottled for the 1983 French Oak Finish as the final member of an elite Cellar Collection. It should be noted that of the 8,000 bottles that were produced in this limited edition, only 3,000 were sent to the United States in 2003.
When I was given this bottle on Sunday, I was told that only 12 bottles were currently available in the state of Florida. While I am not privy to the cost of this bottle, the 1983 French Oak Finish was originally priced right around $200 in 2003 and has escalated to over $350 in recent years.
My initial inspection of the 1983 was pleasing. I liked the honey oak box with brass hardware. Upon opening the box I observed a white booklet that described the process this scotch had gone through since 1983. The scotch is housed in the classic green glass Glenlivet bottle. While admiring my new gift I noted that the label appeared to be hand written and was beginning to come off. This was not surprising as this bottle had been at some unknown location for the past 10 years. While uncorking the 1983 I removed the foil from the cap and observed a nice aged patina on the inside of the foil. My first wafts from the bottle were very hot and spicy. As I poured my first glass I noted that the scotch was very heavy and admired the distinct “legs” that ran down the inside of my snifter after swirling it.
The tasting notes are as follows:
Color: a deep dark amber
Nose: sweet, sherry, vanilla and light fruit followed by an intense hot spice
Palate: sweet fruit balanced with spicy oak coupled with a velvet mouth texture that’s almost buttery.
Finish: a long, smooth, crisp, balanced finish with a warming heat.
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the 1983. The scotch was very smooth and complex. The initial spiciness observed in the nose was much less pronounced in the palate which was perfectly balanced with a long finish and just the right amount of sweetness coupled with bold oak overtones. The evening was shared with a group of friends and was full of stories and experiences to include someone who had drank 25 year Macallan for $3.50 a glass at a bowling alley in up state New York. While I am still waiting for my bottle of 30 year Glenfiddich I was happy to have shared a dram of The Glenlivet, that dated back to my birth year, with a great group of friends!