Welcome to

Whisk(e)y Reviews

July 2021


Glenlivet 12 Year Illicit Still

There are brands within the scotch world that seem to be the starting point for a large percentage of new scotch drinkers. It seems like nearly everyone started with Glenlivet 12, Glenfiddich 12, or Johnny Walker Black.  Some people stick with those and are content. But, very often, these bottles are later passed over in favor of new and/or exciting releases by an array of distillers. But today, we look back to Glenlivet, because there is a new version of the 12 year that might be worthy of consideration. 

Glenlivet's latest release, 12 Year Illicit Still, is a nod to the founding of Glenlivit, at a time it wasn't quite legal to make whisky. Illicit Still is bottled at 48% ABV, significantly higher than the standard 12 year, which is only 40%.  Illicit Still is Non-chill filtered. 

Nose: 81/100

The nose opens with honey drizzled pears, green apple, and fresh coconut. I get hints of heather and a slight undertone of sourdough bread. The notes in the nose are richer than in the 40% version. I like this nose a lot. 


Palate: 76/100

The arrival is vanilla and honey which quickly evolve into pale fruitiness, somewhere between pear and apricot.  There is a shadow of baking spices, which turn dry at the end. I am enjoying this and can really taste an improvement over the 40% bottle, although I wish some of the coconut had come through in the palate. 


Finish: 73/100

The finish sees the spices turn more oaky.  A buttery vanilla note lingers in a medium length with a hint of white pepper. 


Overall score: 77/100


Recommendation: You should at least try a pour. 


Conclusion: I'm not a big fan of Glenlivet 12. But, this is a big improvement. I bought a bottle of Illicit Still and I might even buy a 2nd one. If all Glenlivet was bottled at 48%, I would probably drink it more often. While you won't be blown away, it would be difficult to really dislike this whisky.